Julia Child And Ina Garten Shared A Hatred Of One Ingredient

It's often true that great minds think alike. When it comes to two cooking legends, Ina Garten and Julia Child, their minds agree on a strong distaste for one ingredient: cilantro. It seems that both chefs have a particularly strong distaste for the herb, also known as coriander. Cilantro packs a punch in terms of both scent and flavor, and has a green, almost citrus taste that is used to brighten up many foods.


But, cilantro is also hated by many people. So many avoid the leafy green altogether that it has become incredibly controversial, akin to the never-ending pineapple on pizza debate. And it's not just regular folk. In fact, many famous foodies count themselves firmly in the anti-cilantro camp, including, as it seems, both Garten and Child. 

The late Julia Child declared her disdain for cilantro pretty vocally during a 2002 interview with Larry King, according to The New York Times, declaring that she "...would pick it out if [she] saw it and throw it on the floor." This may seem a little extreme; however, anyone averse to the herb is sure to share Child's passion. 

In an interview on The Today Show, The Barefoot Contessa proved herself to be in the same camp, though suggesting that her aversion to the herb is physiological rather than psychological. Garten also took to heart knowing that Julia Child, one of her culinary inspirations, also found the herb incredibly distasteful, when justifying her own anti-cilantro stance.


Why the herb is so controversial

Ina Garten might be on to something by labeling her aversion to cilantro as physiological. A person's take on the herb could, in fact, be a matter of genetics. For some people, rather than tasting fresh and delicious flavor profiles when eating cilantro, they taste soap. According to Britannica, this is because of a genetic mutation in their olfactory receptor genes, which impacts their perception of compounds called aldehydes that are found in cilantro. Between 4-14% of Americans report finding cilantro to be soapy in flavor. All things considered, that's a pretty small percentage.


But cilantro aversion doesn't simply come down to soapy flavors. There is another, more creepy crawly reason for some people's dislike of the herb. Apparently, bedbugs (especially large-scale bedbug infestations) can produce a smell very similar to cilantro. And the association goes beyond smell, too. Coriander, an alternative name for the herb, might just be tied to the Greek term for those itchy and cumbersome bed-infesting critters. So perhaps there is a good reason behind someone's cilantro avoidance beyond just what they taste.

Overcoming cilantro aversion

Maybe you're perfectly settled in your cilantro aversion. And that's ok; you're clearly in good company. However, there is a whole world of food out there that is cilantro-rich and may be worth trying. After all, the herb is widely used in cuisines around the world, including in Mexican, Thai, and Indian foods. A pico de gallo isn't complete without a pinch of cilantro, and a Thai chicken curry requires quite a bit of the green stuff as well.


So, how do you overcome a dislike of cilantro? Well, there are a few routes you can take. For one, you could start small with cilantro exposure, consuming very little of the herb along with your meal, and building up your tolerance over time. Through frequent exposure, you might just be able to kick your hatred for the herb.

You can also try using the stems of cilantro, rather than the leaves, in your cooking. Some find the stems to be a little less on the sudsy side. Plus, the stems are also incredibly flavorful. But if all this seems like just too much of a fuss, you can always do as Julia Child did, and toss that soapy green herb on the floor (and enjoy the rest of your meal).