Cilantro Tolerator + Purple Disliker

By Gabrielle. Image by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

I’ve got a question for you today. It’s pretty light-hearted, but I’m genuinely curious. Have you ever deliberately tried to change a harmless dislike into a like?

I’ve mentioned before I’m not a fan of cilantro. Not a big deal, I know. The same is true of a measurable section of the population — cilantro tastes like soap to some people. But I read an article about a foodie who conquered all his food dislikes (I swear I’ve linked to it before, but now I can’t find it!), and it really stuck with me. Then I read a status update from my friend, Laurie Smithwick. She’s also a cilantro hater, but decided she wasn’t going to be anymore.

I was really impressed by that, and thought it would be smart to follow her example. So I’ve been doing my best to not avoid cilantro for the past many months. In France, we rarely if ever encountered cilantro, but here in Oakland, it’s practically impossible to stay away from it — at least if you’re a fan of Mexican food (which I am!).

The results of my non-avoidance? So far, I still can’t say I’m a cilantro lover, but I am a cilantro tolerator, and I hope I’m on the road to being a cilantro embracer.


I’ve tried the same thing with purple, and have had less luck. In 4th and 5th grade, purple was my absolute favorite color — every shade, but particularly pastel. Purple clothes, purple pencil box, purple barrettes! But somewhere between age 10 and now, I lost my love for that regal color and even began to really dislike it. If it’s greyed out and sort of a dove shade, I’m fine. But true purples are not my thing.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how arbitrary my lack of love for purple was, and that I was no doubt missing out on some true beauty in the world by automatically dismissing anything purple, so I’ve been attempting to be more open-minded about it. When a purple option is presented to me, I’ll spend more time with it, and run a little dialogue in my head about how purple is a perfectly good color and that it’s worth liking.

I’ll be honest, I’ve seen a little movement on my purple-loving scale, but nothing impressive.

It’s made me wonder about your own experiences with changing your tastes and preferences. If you’ve tried, were you able to succeed? And was it worth it? Any stories about color preferences? Or flip-flopping on a particular flavor? Chime in!

P.S. — Another harmless dislike: least favorite flowers.

75 thoughts on “Cilantro Tolerator + Purple Disliker”

  1. Lisa Taylor Whitley

    I absolutely LOVE cilantro and I was always surprised to hear people say they detested it until I read a few articles that said aversion to cilantro may be genetic.

  2. Have you heard the rule of 8 for getting over food aversions? I first heard it from my mother-in-law, who swears everyone will love olives by their 8th one (and you don’t have to eat them all at once – just 8 over your lifetime!). I think the same might be loosely true for a lot of other flavors!

  3. I too used to dislike cilantro, but living on the border of Texas and Mexico changed me into a cilantro-lover. Fourteen years later, it’s in my shopping cart every week. I also used to dislike arugula and LOVE it now. But mayonnaise … that will always be the most HORRENDOUS food item ever. I would rather starve than eat anything with mayonnaise.

  4. I have such a passionate dislike for the color purple! I’ve been trying to figure it out for years, and can’t. I’ve never met anyone else who feels the same way, and I’ve always thought it was weird that I disliked it so much.

    Do you have a color (or two) that you really, really love? The color I always die over I call Martha Stewart blue. Ya know—the sea foam, sky, robin’s egg type of blue colors? Those get me every time. Along with a range of salmon-y, dusty pink colors.

    I’m just curious because I wonder if people who have an aversion to similar colors would like similar ones as well.

    1. I also really dislike purple! But my favorite color is red, and others that I’m drawn to are in the jewel tone family, so I guess those are not similar at all to your lighter blues and salmons.

  5. I used to hate onions but I tried the whole may as well like it, it’s in so many foods things. The other day I made something and over the table I told my husband “this would be better with onions in it.” He was shocked and appalled. Even with me using onions in everything that calls for them he still hates them. I think it has to be a willing effort to be able to change your food likes.

  6. I used to HATE goat cheese, specifically chevre. Now, somehow, I LOVE it. I dated someone who loved it, so I tolerated it with a few meals. Eventually, I realized I actually started liking it.

    Most of my family hates chevre, and since I flip-flopped, I somehow believe they can too! However, my pushing does not seem to help, and they have no interest in converting :)

    1. I never liked goat cheese – despite trying to enjoy it because it seemed to be popular with my cheese-loving friends – until after I had kids. Somehow, post-pregnancy, I really like it.

  7. I used HATE the color pink. I think as a kid I got tired ofv people just picking the pink item out for me just because I was a girl. After high school I had a new years resolution to like it, it took a good three years and now I can finally say I like it.

  8. For my whole life I hated olives and most things with that bitter pickley taste. And I’m from an Italian family so hating olives was quite shocking to my family. No matter how many times people tried to convince me they are great my taste buds wouldn’t budge….until one day when my Mother In-law discovered I didn’t like olives. She said rather bluntly and matter of factly (she’s German!) that the reason I didn’t like olives is because I had an “immature palette.” Well right then and there I had to prove her wrong, right? So little by little I started trying olives when they are served to me, and now low and behold, I LOVE them!! I guess I just needed a bit of motivation and wanted to prove to my MIL that I have a rather mature palette, thank you very much!

  9. I used to hate dill pickles. Now, I tolerate them. When I make my husbands lunch the night before, I’ll even bite each pickle as a little joke for the next day. And yellow. I have no yellow in my home. I just can’t like it!

  10. I’ve always been a purple hater. But recently, I’ve noticed a small shift in how I view it, and have discovered that I (still) really, really dislike red-purples (like beets and Barney the dinosaur) but like blue-purples okay in moderation. My daughter asked me recently what my favorite color is, and we talked about how all the colors are good, but some may be best only in certain situations (no purple siding on a house, please). For instance, I wear red only in lipstick and shoes; I’d never wear a red coat or dress. Just personal preference, based on nothing, as far as I can tell.

    I say embrace what does work for you instead of worrying about what doesn’t.

  11. Broccoli! I am really actually kind of starting to like it, I think.
    I’ve been trying to add it in to the dinner rotation lately…for my kids sake. And the hubs too. I know it’s so good for them and they shouldn’t be deprived of it because of my hang-up. I just hope that it’s not too late for my 7 year old. “Just one bite, please.” : )

  12. I really, really do not like tomatoes, but strangely I LOVE most things made OF tomatoes (salsa, ketchup, bruschetta, tomato soup…). But I will pick a slice of tomato off a sandwich every single time. My husband thinks this is truly weird and I’ve tried as an adult to get over it, but I just cannot.

    1. Absolutely! I love tomato things. I love tomatoes in the raw, cooked up, salted, sugared, peppered, oiled, ext. But. I would never consider allowing a tomato to soggy up my sandwich. It’s just gross.

  13. This is funny because I was just thinking this morning how I don’t like purple. I am a cilantro lover though. And I remember hating dark chocolate growing up, but one day in my 20’s a switch flipped and I all of the sudden loved it. And now I don’t really love milk chocolate.

  14. I used to hate purple and then I married a man whose second favorite color was purple (as an ex-goth his favorite color is and will always be black) What I’ve decided is that I really don’t like bright purple. Dove purple or eggplant are OK, but royal purple = :P

    That feeling isn’t helped by a society that makes royal purple/grape purple a very kid color. It’s still the secondary color with which little girls express their gender identity. I think that might be part of the origin of my dislike for the color. I know partly hated it because I was supposed to like it. Horses definitely fell into that same category.

  15. I love green (but not hunter). It will always stand out to me. My mom used to really dislike it. She thought of the 70s avocado that her mother picked out for her wedding. When I first developed the taste as a child I felt bad for wanting green- it wasn’t a color we had around the house, for sure! Of course, Mom was okay with it and now years later I sometimes catch her wearing it!

    When I was younger, I had a phase where I despised polka dots. Don’t know why. But a few years later I realized I was okay with them- first dots without a pattern, and now I love regular polka kind! For me, it was a lesson in growing and changing, and anytime I changed my mind (or talked with a friend who struggled with some change they always identified with), I’d say, “It’s ok to like polka dots!” What’s most interesting to me is to see someone who knows what they like, even if it’s evolving.

  16. Beets: pickled, roasted, boiled, they still taste like I’m eating a spoonful of dirt. I still give them a try every year, but they will never get a spot in my garden.

    Also pink and purple, any shade. So it’s a really good thing I had four boys. It’s pretty much all red and blue around here, and I couldn’t be happier.

  17. I hated tomatoes from when I was itty bitty all the way into my early 20s. One time I was staying with a host family in Prague and they fed me a heaping helping of fresh sliced tomatoes, and I had to CHOKE them down. I was practically gagging, but doing it with a smile. I could tolerate cooked tomatoes, but raw was a huge struggle.

    When I was about 21 or so and was yet again picking tomatoes off of something I thought about my experience in Prague. It occurred to me that while mostly harmless, my hate for the common tomato was kind of a pain and an inconvenience. So I decided there that I was going to overcome this hatred, and I made myself have one bite of that tomato I was currently in the process of picking off my food. Then I made a rule for myself that I didn’t have to order tomatoes, but if they were served to me I would have at least 1 bite. After a little bit of time I eventually made myself eat 2 bites and so on. Now I’m 28 and I really enjoy tomatoes and hardly even remember hating them. I’m a firm believer in the power of the mind and that we can do nearly anything if the will is strong enough.

    1. You’re my hero. Tomatoes are the ONLY thing I truly detest – and only when they’re raw. It’s not like I’ll gag, it just ruins the bite for me, so if it’s in an omelet or guac, it’s just not worth eating anymore. I HAVE gotten good at picking of every diced tomato, no matter the size, however, I really don’t like looking like a 6 year old. Furthermore, I don’t like being picky. I’m not even going to mention the looks when you order a sandwich soup combo and have to say, “Grilled cheese, no tomato, with a side of tomato soup.”

      Maybe I’ll try just shoveling them down. If nothing else, maybe i won’t eat so much of my food, and it’ll act as a diet. ;)

  18. Very funny post. I think you’ll get a lot of comments because we all (especially moms!) want to rise above our dislikes and provide a good example for our kids.

    When I was a young child, I had an intense dislike for beans of any kind. I loathed them. And then one day at dinner, I remember deliberately deciding to think of beans as little packages of mashed potatoes. Lo and behold: I actually loved them! And still do to this day!

    I tell my kids that story a lot, whenever they’re being picky about eating something. It was a sharp culinary turning point for me, and we never know when they’ll have one of their own.

  19. Ha! Yes, I used to completely hate beans – until I met my Texas-born husband, who makes phenomenal chili and grew to like everything he put in it.
    He’s slowly warming up to mushrooms (as a Russian, there are a lot of dishes I cook that call for mushrooms).
    I really think it’s the slow introduction and motivation (and yes, an immature palate is a thing, and by slowing introducing different foods to it, one can make it more mature).

    Having said that, I work as a product designer, so right now I hate polka dots, chevrons, stripes, and chalkboard, because they are trendy and we have been oversaturated with these. I hate lime green for the same reason, but I know of the reason for it, so I make an effort to be “fair” to all patterns and colors.

  20. I have been having an internal struggle with pastel’s for years. I think they look fine on other people but I just feel uncomfortable wearing them. I think it stems back from my youth of total black clothing and the image of pastel wearers as uncool. I am way past my youth, but I just can’t bring myself to come around to pastel’s as a fashionable color. Is that immature or just that I know what I like and don’t like?

  21. Cilantro lover here, though I must admit the first experiences with it were not favorable. Perhaps it is such a unique taste that it just takes time to acclimate to. Try growing some in your garden. Many times the experience of rainng something can change your perception of it. (And don’t try dried cilantro! It has no redeeming qualities and may permanently seal the deal on your dislike!)

    I also am not a purple lover, though I can embrace the deep aubergines and purple blacks if necessary. Perhaps you should do a small poll on color preferences. I bet it would reveal many people don’t like purple…..

  22. The color orange was my least liked color until recently. I see it making SUCH a difference at my local Farmer’s market – it adds such life to a scene and seems especially gorgeous next to its evil opposite: purple! Maybe the two of them need each other for validation. Picture it: red/purple cabbage and huge, orange carrots, or a rustic vine of bittersweet wrapped around an array of little pumpkins and purple cabbage. Wow.

    Here in upstate NY, knowing it’s the last color we’ll see until, oh, April, we seem to appreciate those strong colors a lot, nd are grateful for the way they uplift our spirits.

  23. Ah…tomatoes and melon of all types. It almost seemed unAmerican to dislike these summertime staples. So, I consciously set out to change my aversion and lo and behold, I did. It really feels like life changing event. After all, we only have one of these lives to enjoy all the little summertime pleasures!

  24. Hah! That is so funny. I have never been able to embrace purple, either, and I always wonder why? It’s really not a terrible color. Poor purple. But, when given the choice I NEVER choose purple anything.
    I am a cilantro lover, though.
    And someone earlier commented about dark chocolate. HATED it as a kid. Thought it was just the worst, why, oh WHY would anyone want anything but milk chocolate?! Now I really enjoy dark chocolate, and while I still also enjoy milk chocolate, I sometimes find myself wishing, while eating something milk chocolatey, that it was dark chocolate instead!

  25. Green beans! I have actively been trying to like green beans for a few years now. If they are thin and fresh and have balsamic vinegar and feta on them I won’t gag. So it’s getting better.

    I kind of love that you don’t like purple. I figured you had to love every color since you were a designer. Obviously I was wrong!

  26. The Other Robin

    While I never got the soapy taste, I mildly disliked cilantro. Who knows why, now I love it! We grow it in the herb garden.
    And orange. Oh, how I hated it! As a 70’s kid, I saw that burnt orange until the color was completely ruined for me. I have recently had the beginnings of a change of heart about bright, cheeky, crayola orange. It is okay in moderation, but that burnt stuff? Still vile! But hope springs eternal, right?

  27. I think there are just some things that are an acquired taste and cilantro is one of them. A good beer is another. The switch from milk chocolate to dark was tough a few years ago when all of the benefits of dark chocolate were being touted but now I prefer it. Maybe you will acquire a taste for purple?

  28. As an adult, I have learned to like foods that I thought I never would. I like beans and mayonnaise, both that were never served at home in my childhood, but I’ve come to appreciate. One food I’ve tried to learn to like but I still dislike is watermellon. Watermelon is often served at summer parties, or family get togethers. It looks so festive, pretty and refreshing and I feel a bit left out of the celebration. Maybe I should try again to learn to appreciate it.

  29. I love cilantro & am too a hater of purple!
    I grew up forced into all things pastels & as an adult have shunned all that is purple.
    However, I’m just fine with it in nature!

  30. I hate milk. Always have. When I was younger I would try to drink milk thinking that I might have grown out of my dislike…but no. Disgusting!! The only way I can tolerate it is pour just enough in my cereal to get it wet. However, I love cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, etc. Go figure.

  31. Watermelon is a food I just can’t do- why do I need to chew water?! It really has no flavor for me.
    My mom always hated purple and pointsettas. Being the loving daughter that I am I would always wrap her birthday or Christmas presents with paper highlighting those two things:)

  32. I’ve tried REALLY hard to like black olives. It’s the only food I do not like. Everyone in my family loves them and don’t understand why I don’t. For about 3-4 years, I would try a black olive whenever they were in front of me, just to test if I still didn’t like them. But, every time, I felt like I had to spit it out it tasted so bad to me. Even trips to Greece and Italy where it seemed so natural to eat them and enjoy them couldn’t cure me.

    I admire your will power to try to tolerate your dislikes. Maybe I’ll try liking hot pink!

  33. i should get my husband to do this. he hates cilantro and celery.
    also, i read somewhere that yellow does not look good on asian skin color so i stay away from the yellow/mustard palette for clothes. also, in my head i made the decision that purple makes you look fat since i associate purple with barney so i also stay away from wearing purple.

  34. I did not like cilantro until I started growing it myself. Before growing it, to me it tasted like what perfume would taste like. I started using it in more recipe’s and started loving it. I really like it on indian food.

  35. My aversion to the color pink is also rooted in my obsession with it as a little girl. I think I swore off it forever when I was 15-ish and haven’t owned a pink article of clothing since. My favorite line in “White Oleander” (the book) was, “Pink being the ultimate cliche.” Ha! That said, I now have an adorable two-year-old who is obsessed with pink. And I’m not about to deprive her of a possible future aversion. ;)

  36. It’s funny you specifically mention cilantro! I was always a hater. Growing up in the Bay Area, this was tough, but I’d pick any visible pieces out of my burritos. In college, my boyfriend swore I was crazy because he couldn’t taste it and thought it was just for color. With the power of the internet, I’ve learned it’s actually a really polarizing flavor! Since college, I’ve tried putting on my big girl panties and withheld from asking “Please hold the cilantro.” It’s taken several years, but has finally grown on me. Now I can’t imagine eating burritos or pho without it!

  37. I used to not like raw broccoli. I liked it steamed and in chinese food, stir frys, covered with cheese, etc. I started adding small pieces to my salads with dinner and when I would eat it with a bite of tomato or cucumber, it wasn’t so bad. It’s gotten to the point now where I actually like bites of broccoli by themselves. I don’t think it’d be my first choice from a veggie tray, though.

  38. I used to hate bananas, but I mess myself eat them and now I eat them all the time. But, (and I feel the same way about milk) I have to eat them with something. Cereal, peanut butter, etc.

  39. I have hated orange for years! I am an introvert and it’s just such a loud color… I wouldn’t call it offensive exactly, but almost…

    The older I get, the more I like purple. A darker purple looks good when decorating my house next to browns and greens, and I like to wear purple things if they’re not too bright also.

  40. I was a tomato hater for years – and after reading that SAME article, I decided that I was going to do my best to try to like them. They’re in so many wonderful dishes and are really beautiful. So after years of gagging on them, I’m neutral toward them now. I can do any tomatoes pureed or mixed into things but I still pull slices off a sandwich or wedges out of a salad. We’ll see what happens after some more time with them :)

  41. Eggs – aside from an omelet or quiche, I will not eat them. It seems like every food blog in the past year has fallen in love with fried or poached eggs and when I see I runny yoke, I want to gag. For me a big part of it is the smell (especially for hard boiled eggs) is really strong.

    Also as a kid, I really disliked melon. Now I like watermelon and will tolerate cantaloupe or other melons in a salad, but I don’t buy them at the grocery store.

    1. I feel the same way about eggs! As a child I wouldn’t eat them in any form (except baked goods – ie invisible), but around college I began eating omelets, and I can also eat scrambled eggs as long as I eat them with toast or with veggies/cheese added. I completely agree about the boiled egg smell. And the runny yolks. And don’t get me started on egg salad or deviled eggs… So I guess I’m a partially reformed egg hater, but some categories of egg hating are very firmly entrenched! I’m not sure I can picture forcing myself to dig into a soft boiled egg anytime soon…

  42. you’re brave. I like silantro and put in everything. I like almost everything except papaya. It’s smells and tastes like throw up to me.
    The color thing is interesting. I’m a designer, color is important to me. Usually if I hate a color and admit I hate it, some weird thing happens and I end up liking it. Gray seemed to boring to me, now I love it. But I still hate yellow. I only own two yellow items, 2 matching vintage little vases. Not a fan of yellow at all!

  43. I did this at New Years with sparkling mineral water. I used to dislike it, and now I love it! In fact, I kind of crave it now!

  44. I’ve been working on this for a couple years! Intentionally widening my likes–especially culinary. I just love food so much, it seemed silly to be fully adult and not at least try to like things I’ve dismissed in the past.

    I started with Greek olives, because not only are they in a lot of foods I enjoy, but they seem so COOL for parties and picnics, and I wanted to get in on that fun! So over the last year or so I’ve tried, tasted, sampled, and stocked up on different varieties. And now I genuinely like them (especially the little bowl given as an antipasto at our favorite pizza place in DC:)

    My next hurdle is going to be fennel + black licorice. I’ve never ever been a fan, but have a few recipes that look amazing calling for fennel seed which I just omit! It’s kind of nice to be able to relate to my toddlers not liking everything, and being able to teach them that trying it–more than once– might help you change your mind:)

  45. when I was younger I hated grapefruit, but my best friend loved it. So I pushed ahead, ate it because I had to like the same things she liked (6th grade–oy), and before too long, was downing that citrus with the best of them.

  46. I hope you’ll forgive, but I love purple. Its my absolute favorite color. I like deep plums and muted shades of it. I have purple linens in my kitchen. I always have more purple in my wardrobe than anything else. I remember meeting a lady in church who had a wonderfully confident sense of style. She always wore purple. Without exception, every Sunday she wore a purple hat, plum shoes, and any number of accessories in the same hue. I want that confidence someday, perhaps purple is the key!

    1. It’s funny, I was never a purple liker when I was younger, but as a brunette with dark tones, I loooove it now. My dining room is even a shade of purple!

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