Ina Garten has served up recipes on the Food Network for 15 years and she’s filled 10 cookbooks with even more meals, but there’s one ingredient you won’t find in any of those dishes.
That’s because the woman best known as the “Barefoot Contessa” just can’t stand cilantro.
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In an interview for the latest episode of Munchies: The Podcast, Garten didn’t mince words about the popular but polarizing herb.
“Hate it!” she said. “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.”
So, while many of us can’t imagine certain meals without it (like the tacos below) she goes to great lengths to avoid cilantro.
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It’s not in her roasted salmon tacos, guacamole salad or even her tequila lime chicken — and it never will be.
“I like something that’s kind of interestingly flavored, but as you eat it you get the layers, you know, the strawberries, a little zest of orange, a little sweetness, a little yogurt,” she explained. “You get all of those of those flavors in a balance. But when cilantro is in something, that’s all I can taste. Everything else goes away.”
Studies have found that there’s a genetic factor behind whether someone tastes a delicious herb or something closer to dish soap when they eat cilantro, so Garten is far from alone in her opinion about the ingredient.
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In fact, she even had good company in the form one late culinary great.
Julia Child, who helped pave the way for Garten and other TV cooking talents, always avoided cilantro — and arugula, too.
“They have kind of a dead taste to me,” Child once told Larry King. And if either leafy green made it onto her plate, “I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.”
This article was originally published on Aug. 21, 2017.