Baja Tempeh from Veganomicon, romaine, mango & avocado tossed with fresh lime juice, refried black beans with jalapeño, vegan queso & handmade flour tortillas from La Palapa. Propped up by mini avocados and paired with a guava & fresh mango mimosa.

This requires a deep breath to mutter, but sometimes I wish I was a fan of cilantro. I wish I didn’t have to dramatically avoid it. Why wouldn’t I want to a) stop the name-calling and pitying eye rolling from its devotees and b) live as a fan of this vibrant green herb that’s essential to Mexican, Indian, Korean, Thai cuisine and more? Alas, I’m a hater. Yeah, yeah, I can handle it meddled into jarred salsas and curries, I guess, but sprinkle on the fresh stuff and I can’t eat my food. My mouth will not open and I will start gagging if it unknowingly comes remotely close to my nose or mouth.

To clarify: it doesn’t taste like soap, it tastes like shit. I’ll pick it off my food if I must, but I would prefer to pass, or run, in the opposite direction. I can quickly think of two recent  “no cilantro, please” examples where, sure enough, my order came with cilantro and I was physically unable to continue with my meal. There’s a certain food cart I’ve taken a leave of absence from. Very recently, I picked sporadic crisps of cilantro off a slice of pizza and it was a tough go.  Generous doses of sriracha and hunger helped.  My cilantro-loving dinner companions luck out. I clearly didn’t eat much Mexican food (with the non-exception of boring bean, cheese and lettuce tacos from the bell) growing up, because I wasn’t fully aware of this hatred until my move to Portland in 2004 and introduction to West Coast burritos. What’s this new herb I’m trying? – Oh wait, I DESPISE IT.

In my own cooking, I substitute a whole lot of fresh basil – especially Thai basil in Southeast Asian dishes, shiso, mint and oregano leaves. And if I must (more freely in recent years of culinary sanity), dried coriander. I’m not going to put some crazy hope into the growth of my taste buds or building up a tolerance when I’m Thailand later this year or going to make up stories about my evolution as a so-called super-taster – who knows! What I do know is that it is possible to enjoy fresh tacos without the dreaded c herb – you simply need fresh ingredients and a little something special, like mango. Which yeah, would probably be even ‘better’ with cilantro, but that’s (perhaps) you, and not me. Even when, ironically, there is a leftover bundle of said herb in my fridge, courtesy of my dear house guests. Little did my friend know that this plant was my enemy and by bringing it forth into my house, a look of fear would take over my normally smiling face. The things we learned at our reunion!

What I’m saying is, it’s such an ON/OFF switch ingredient, and I wish it was labelled more often. I’m looking at you, cilantro pesto.

Just sayin’


  1. I feel the same way about pineapple! I can sense the horrificness of it from a mile away. Lucky me, oregon isn’t such a pineapple state…

  2. i used to loathe cilantro, now i love it, go figure. must be a changing taste bud thing. those tacos look awesome – the mango is a genius addition.

  3. Haha.. I feel for you because I spent the first 18 years of my life HATING cilantro with a passion. I remember going CRAZY as a 10 year old if I even entered into a restaurant where it was being prepared. It was sooo offensive. It felt like I was being attacked with cilantro…

    but then when I was pregnant with my first son, all of a sudden I developed this made CRAVING for it.. and have LOVED it ever since… soooo odd.. I remember when I passed by a bowl of it at a take out thai place… and I was drawn to it and NEEDED it… I was SHOCKED…

    As a side note, both my kids LOVE cilantro with gusto. and even though I do too, I remember how violently I hated it for half of my life.

  4. Your tacos look great! Although I will admit that I am a cilantro-lover, but I am a celery hater and a Thai basil hater!! Yucko!! I will pick that off every time! 🙂

  5. I agree wholeheartedly – cilantro is the worst! My dad is on our side as well – he says it reminds him of the smell of some southern French insect from when he was little…ew!

  6. Reading the word cilantro this many times has left me a bit nauseous. This is one plant species I nominate for extinction.

  7. Your post cracked me up because I can tell that you have had soooo many arguments with cilantro devotees. It does make everything better….if you like it! When mine is out I sub chives and green onions even though they have nothing in common, it still adds a lot of freshness which I think is an important aspect to cilantro.

    Hopefully some day there will be some sort of treatment for people like you.

  8. Ha, hey Jess. I have another cilantro-hating friend I think of whenever I add the stuff to recipes. It’s like her voice is in my head going “ewww” when it’s cilantro time, so sometimes I say just add some parsley for the color effect, but in the case of you guys it’s definitely not for the taste.

    But happy you went ahead and made the tacos with out it! She wouldn’t touch guacamole until she started making her own at home, sans the cilantro.

  9. You’re going to hate me, but I think of you every time I make onion/cilantro relish for my tacos…

    Anyway, are you going to Thailand? I’ll be there for the next 5 months! Or maybe that was a super rhetorical thing you wrote and I’ve just exposed how out of the loop I really am.

    x’s and o’s!

    1. I am trying! It’s a wee bit up in the air right now, but it *should* be happening in December as long as I don’t change my mind to elsewhere. That being said, I would love to see you if you are there x WHOA.

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