The One Herb Ina Garten Just Can't Deal With

Most people know Ina Garten for her many bestselling cookbooks like her latest, "Modern Comfort Food", but what folks probably didn't know about Garten is that she got her professional start in a food store. In fact, that's where the name "Barefoot Contessa" — which is now synonymous with Garten — originally came from.

Garten used to work in politics, but had a love of food from her time spent in France. A trip to The Hamptons in New York would then change her life forever. During a visit to the area with her husband they came across The Barefoot Contessa food store, and decided to buy it, and move there together. Under Garten's guidance, the store became an emporium of food goods and knowledge. All of those years of experience would then culminate in her first publication "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook."

Over those years of selling and teaching, Garten came to learn a lot about foods, which ones work together, and which ones she can't stand. One of Garten's most hated foods is a simple herb, but one that is commonly a divisive topic among diners.

The divisive herb cilantro

During an interview on Vice's "Munchies: The Podcast", Garten revealed that cilantro is actually one of her most hated foods. While she hates the flavor of cilantro, she also feels it steals too much of the spotlight.

"I know people love it and you can add it to the recipe. I just hate it. To me it's so strong — and it actually tastes like soap to me — but it's so strong it overpowers every other flavor," said Garten.

Garten is not only in her dislike of this simple green herb though. Lots of folks think that cilantro is overwhelmingly soapy, and there's a good reason for this. Many people's dislike for cilantro actually stems from their genetics. Some people are more prone to detect the smell of a compound called aldehydes that are present in cilantro. This interaction with our olfactory senses will affect our tastes, and for some will make the usually fresh, bright herb taste more like a bite of toothpaste.

How to deal with cilantro haters

Your response to aldehydes can actually change over time, so it might be worth checking in with cilantro periodically to see if anything's changed. If you or a loved one are averse to the taste you can also try crushing the leaves before using them in your food. This may lighten the soapy effects of the herb.

Basil, parsley, and dill are also great alternative herbs that can be used in place of cilantro. They might not provide the exact same citrusy freshness that some of us expect from cilantro, but they will help improve things for the cilantro haters among the crowd.

It should also be noted that the spice coriander is made from the seeds of the same plant as cilantro, and is also reported to have a soapy taste for some. Because the ground spice and the cilantro leaves have a very different taste for the most part, it requires different substitutes as well. Cumin, caraway, and curry powder are just a few that are worth trying out in coriander's place.