The 1 Food Ina Garten Will Never Use in Her Recipes
Ina Garten has shown us time and time again that she's not as particular as we once believed. (Hey, her insistence on using "good vanilla" and "good fig spread" led us to believe she had a meticulously curated pantry of staples that met her standards.)
But curly-haired, pandemic Ina taught us that you can absolutely clean your knives in the dishwasher, the "hour" in cocktail hour is only a suggestion and ordering take-out pizza (yes, even when entertaining) is totally A-OK.
There is one food, however, that the Food Network star and cookbook author, says is never, ever good.
"Cilantro. I just won't go near it," she told TIME in an interview and also discussed on a later edition of the VICE Munchies podcast.
"Hate it!" she told Munchies. "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."
Cilantro is a must-have for some home cooks, especially in dishes like tacos, guacamole, soups and sauces—but Garten puts forward recipes that often call for the herb, well, without it. See her cilantro-free Guacamole Salad Recipe for proof.
"When cilantro is in something, that's all I can taste. Everything else goes away," Garten admitted.
But before you start wondering if there's something wrong with the Barefoot Contessa's palate, you should know that Cornell University researchers have found that you can be genetically predisposed to despise cilantro—and those with a certain trait think cilantro has a "soapy" taste when consumed. It's become such an issue that 23AndMe, a popular DNA testing service, sells an at-home test that allows you to discover if you have the same aversion.
Many home cooks dislike cilantro because of family history (and where your ancestors came from), and something called "OR6A2," which is a gene that determines how your taste buds perceive the flavor of cilantro. If that gene is dominant rather than recessive, you'll be much more sensitive to cilantro's powerful flavor profile, the Cornell University scientists explained.
While Garten seems to firmly fall in the "no cilantro" camp, there are certain things you can do to try and overcome any knee-jerk reaction to the herb. There's an entire online community thread on Reddit dedicated to people who naturally find the herb repulsive, with tips such as carefully removing the stem, which retains most of the pungent flavor.
While cilantro is the only food on Garten's absolute no-go list, she did reveal to TIME that there are three more things she's not "big on"...
- Anything with eyeballs
- Foams (we imagine she's referring to the molecular gastronomy technique)
- Pre-grated Parmesan (we agree it's totally worth it to buy a whole wedge and shred or grate your own if you have time!)
Those four foods leave a lot left to tinker with, however, as proven by her 12 (!) cookbooks and counting, her endlessly inspiring Instagram feed and these 10 classic Ina Garten recipes to make all the time. And Jeffrey? He can always enjoy the cilantro on the side.