It's entirely possible we have unleashed the passions and resentments of a new silent majority -- or a we're-mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore minority.

We're talking about Americans who really, really hate cilantro and genuinely feel oppressed by the seemingly pro-cilantro bias in our society.

The anti-cilantro views came in response to Love/Hate. In this latest edition of our occasional, eclectic cultural smackdowns, we asked readers to weigh in on their adoration or disdain of cilantro and other divisive vegetables.

Readers from all over the Bay Area -- and the United States -- had lots to say. While they also expressed views on okra, kale, beets and Brussels sprouts, they really became voluble into their pro- and anti-cilantro commentary. Many were especially appreciative of staff writer Joan Morris quoting Julia Child's call to take cilantro, with its "dead taste," and throw it on the ground and stomp the life out of it.

Check out what readers had to say:

Cilantro haters speak out

Alberta Maged, Oakland: In April 2010, the New York Times ran an article explaining why people such as me physically can't deal with cilantro. It's not a subjective reaction but an actual physical reaction.

Barbara Hill, El Cerrito: To me, it tastes exactly like soap. And, yes, I know what soap tastes like. My mother washed my mouth out with soap on a couple of occasions -- not for swearing but for sassing her. People ask me if I am allergic to it. I have no idea. I've never been able to eat enough of it to find out. There is a website called www.ihatecilantro.com, which estimates that about 8 to 10 percent of people in the U.S. hate cilantro. Please understand that we cannot help it. As Joan Morris said, scientists say it's genetics. If I could love cilantro, I'd be glad, because I am tired of having to make a nuisance of myself every time I try to make a menu choice at a restaurant.

Jane Wallace, Brentwood: I'm so glad to hear it's in my genes, since even my husband doesn't understand my big aversion to it. And I'm not going to keep trying to eat it in hopes it grows on me.

Donald Sturman, San Francisco: I agree with my culinary hero Julia Child. It does taste like death and should be picked out of food and tossed aside. My taste buds get a strong hit of soap flavor, so I reject it every chance I get. My biggest objection is when restaurants and chefs presume everybody is in love with this devil weed. I can suffer through cilantro flavor if it is used sparingly, which it rarely is.

Craig Janke, Lafayette: Count me as a hater. Cilantro is nasty to me.

Judie Hockel, Walnut Creek: Thank you, thank you, thank you, Julia Child and Joan Morris! I no longer wonder if there's something wrong with me. I hate cilantro so much it makes my teeth curl even to say the word.

Jens Müller, Sunnyvale: I came to the Bay Area from Germany to work for Google. Cilantro leaves, which are called coriander in German, are not commonly used in Germany (however, the seeds are). Google is known for the good food they offer in the cafes, and I rejoiced when I saw leaves that looked like parsley on some dishes. However, when I tried them, I was not able to eat them as I found the taste disgusting and soapy. I still can't tell cilantro and parsley apart, so I am carefully tasting a small part of it every time I receive it on a dish to know which herb this is.

Judy McDowell, San Jose: Lots of people don't realize how awful cilantro tastes to some of us. I love spicy food, love to cook, grow my own herbs, but fresh cilantro brings to mind a dog repellent spray I used to use.

Rhonda Futterman, Concord: Why did this scourge have to descend upon us, about 20 years ago as I recall? One tiny leaf dominates the entire flavor of whatever food it's in -- and it seems to be in everything these days. No longer can I enjoy salsa. No longer can I bite unsuspectingly into food or order whatever I want in a restaurant.

But some of you adore cilantro:

Sibyl Darter, Livermore: I love the accent that cilantro provides to food. To me, it is fresh with a pleasant, heady scent.

Carol Phy, Los Altos Hills: I have never understood what people find so offensive about cilantro. It puts that little kick in Asian food, especially Thai, and Mexican food. Chinese chicken salad would fall flat without it.

Charles Waldie Jr., Katy, Texas: Cilantro is a true gift from God. It complements most meals through fall and spring.

Jaya Varshney, San Jose: Cilantro is widely used all over India. It is used mainly to garnish prepared vegetable dishes and other food. It is very much used to make chutney, which you can make by adding fresh mint leaves, fresh ginger, green chilies, salt and lemon juice. All the ingredients are put in the blender and finely ground. It is consumed with Indian snacks, such as samosas, and can be spread on bread to make tomato and cucumber sandwiches. Most of us love cilantro for its fragrance.

On to kale and okra

Laurie Biundo, Walnut Creek: Okra is the most vile thing on the planet. I lived in Florida for several years, and they put it in everything. They cooked it every imaginable way -- steamed, fried, baked, etc.

Marilyn C. Jackson, Martinez: Okra is snotty. It's OK in soup because the snot taste goes away. And kale is a good substitute for collards, but only if cooked long and slowly with ham hocks.

Beets and Brussels sprouts

Kateryna Poradiuk, San Jose: I am Ukrainian, and beets are one of the main ingredients in our cuisine.

Judi Grunstra, Santa Cruz: As a kid, I hated beets. My grandmother used to make borscht, which grossed me out. Now I've come to appreciate roasted beets in salads and even sauteed beet greens. But I'm still not ready for borscht, hot or cold!

Sandy Arbogast, San Francisco: I previously did not care at all for beets. I'm not quite sure if it's all due to my tastes changing, or if the plants themselves have changed in flavor due to hybridization, but I now find myself cooking these quite often. And I've heard many people say they now love Brussels sprouts when they used to hate them. One thing that never changes: I absolutely detest okra and its "slime factor." Wouldn't you know I'd marry someone who loves okra?

Brian Middleton, Boston: If you don't love Brussels sprouts, these little nuggets of ecstasy, you haven't had them cooked competently yet.

Denise Schlaman, eighth-grade language arts teacher at Price Middle School in San Jose: I use Brussels sprouts as a running joke in my classroom for vocabulary and spelling tests. I have a list of commonly misspelled words that kids have to know -- and when the entire class spells "definitely" and "separate" correctly, I will eat Brussels sprouts in front of the class as their reward. Eighth-graders are easy to motivate if they know how much you detest the taste of those stinky, little, wrinkled brain-looking ick bombs.