Pretty much every chemist worth his or her salt knows the Merck Index. First published in 1889, the Merck Index is an enormous compendium of chemicals, their physical properties and their industrial uses. Its genesis as a collection of medicinal chemicals is still apparent today, and many of the compounds therein are useful in pharmaceutical production or are finished pharmaceuticals themselves. Way back in the mists of time when I was at university and doing a summer internship, my friends and I used to take bets over who could find the deadliest or gnarliest chemicals in the Merck Index, or who could find the chemical with the most carbons or chiral centers -- basically anything to pass the time while I was waiting for the gel electrophoresis to finish doing its thing. The Merck Index saved my sanity that summer and won me some bragging rights (and about $5 total).
Turns out that my friends and I are not the only ones who use the Merck for more than just a reference book. A UK-based organic chemist behind the blog BRSM posted today about a new kind of challenge: Make a three-course meal out of entries found in the Merck Index. Because, yes, there are some crazy entries in the Merck relating to, among other things, food processing and production, and they tend to be nestled in between entries for stuff like "Sudan Black B" and "Sufentanil" (the former is a biological stain for lipids; the latter an opiate analgesic). The entry in between those:
In addition to mutton suet, BRSM has found almonds, asparagus, coriander and dozens of others, enough to make a pretty good three-course meal, plus whiskey to wash it all down.
I have the 13th Edition on my desk at PopSci; I am pretty sure BRSM uses the 14th Edition (per the photo on the blog entry). And the publisher of the Index has just released the 15th Edition, for those who have a $150 burning a hole in their pockets and want to join in the fun. Because I know what I'm going to be doing for the rest of the day.
ETA, 12:15 EDT:
I've already found:
West Indian Cherries
Agar (used in making jellied desserts)
I just want cilantro that doesn't taste like soap to me. I've known others that have the same problem. Got anything for that?
quasi44 -- You might try crushing and chopping it and then letting it sit for awhile. As Harold McGee relates in an article in NYT from 2010, a study out of Japan showed that chopping it up helped convert the aldehydes associated with the soap flavor into aroma-free versions that one can't detect. That might be a start to help redefine your reaction to the herb.
As also mentioned in that McGee article, he spoke with a neuroscientist -- and former cilantro-phobe -- about cilantro flavor perception. Turns out that consistently encountering the herb was key to him learning to like the flavor, diminishing its "soapy" characteristics.
You could try method one (letting enzymes do the work) until you habituate more to cilantro's unique flavor, which will eventually get you to perceive raw cilantro in a non-soapy manner.
I hope this will allow me to add a link. If not, Google "The Curious Cook: Cilantro Haters, It's Not Your Fault" from NYT, 2010.
To avoid the soapy taste of cilantro I remove the stems and use the leaves only. If you are using the herb in fish dishes, I sometimes substitute cilantro ( coriander sativum) for culantro (eryngium foetidum). It has a stronger taste and does not have that "soapy" flavor.
@MusgoVerde40: Culantro is indeed a nice herb with which to cook. I don't use it very often...should remedy that.
(For the record, Team BeerSci loves cilantro, so avoiding its aldehyde characteristics isn't actually a goal when we cook. Indeed, for maximum cilantro-esque effect, I like to use papalo (Porophyllum ruderale subsp. Macrocephalum). Not for the faint of heart or palate, especially if uninitiated, but so tasty.)
Let me just consult me anarchist's cookbook....