Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cilantro haters, it's not your fault.

I fully admit to really liking cilantro. It's probably one of my favorite herbs, and I know quite a few people that enjoy it. However, it's I am well aware that it's also an herb that divides people - most either really enjoy it or absolutely hate it (much like the movie Garden State). If you're a hater, know that you are not alone - even gastronom Julia Child is said to have hated cilantro. Now, thanks to science, there may be an explanation for why some people loathe cilantro with such passion.

Charles Wysocki, a neuroscientist at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia has found evidence of the genetic basis of cilantro hate in his studies of twins. He says that 80% of identical twins share their preference for cilantro, while among fraternal twins the number is only 50%, indicating that there is some genetic basis for cilantro preference. Scientists at the University of Toronto in Canada have linked variants in genes for an olfactory receptor (those are the proteins on the surface of cells in your nose that let you detect scents) and a bitter taste receptor to cilantro preference. Additionally, researchers at the genetics company 23andMe found that dislike of cilantro was linked to a different olfactory receptor. All of these studies suggest that preference for cilantro may be genetic, and that the reason that some people dislike cilantro is because they perceive the taste of the herb differently. Still, differences in cilantro preference between even identical twins does indicate that there are some environmental factors that affect how much you enjoy the herb.

What does this mean for you? Well, it's more evidence that a person's genetic makeup affects the way that they perceive and interact with the world, including the things we eat. Right now, we have no way to affect a person's genes, so, at least for now, cilantro haters gonna hate.

(via BoingBoing)

(Image: cilantro, a Creative Commons 2.0 licensed image from looseends' photostream)

1 comment:

  1. Until a few years ago, I was a cilantro hater. Then, for no reason I'm aware, the hate went away and I now like it. Someone suggested that Cilantro is an "acquired taste." That seems to be true for me...or maybe my genes changed? Thanks for this very interesting post.