Updated: Sep 24, 2021
If you find coriander disgusting, there’s a perfectly scientific explanation - although you can't pin it entirely on genetics.
Whether you call it coriander or cilantro, there’s no denying it, this herb splits people into two camps - love or hate. But why does such a humble herb create such havoc on your dinner plate? Enter genetics as a likely culprit. A few years ago the largest genetic testing company 23andMe surveyed 50,000 of their customers asking whether they liked the taste of coriander or found it to be soapy. The results when comparing the DNA of the coriander haters to that of coriander lovers found "a SNP (or genetic variation) called rs72921001 to be associated with the trait in a subset of about 25,000 people with European ancestry. (About 13 percent of 23andMe customers with European ancestry answered that cilantro tastes soapy, and 26 percent dislike it.)" "Cilantro’s aromatic qualities primarily depend on a group of compounds known as aldehydes," states the report. "One type of aldehyde has been described as being 'fruity' and 'green' and another type as being 'soapy' and 'pungent'. One of the eight genes near the SNP we identified codes for a receptor called OR6A2, which is known to detect aldehydes such as those found in cilantro." So - if you have those pesky OR6A2 receptors you're likely to taste soap and thus not enjoy this leafy herb. Case closed, right?
As with most genetic research of this type, there's a necessary caveat: “although this finding provides evidence that genetic variation in olfactory receptors is involved in cilantro (coriander) taste perception, common genetic variants explain only a very small part of the difference — a half percent.” So you might also struggle getting it down because of other factors, such as your ethnographics. Another study has found that if your family aren’t big coriander lovers or users then you're less likely to be into it as well.
Know what that means? There’s hope for you with a little coriander persistence!
While those on board the Coriander Love Train can enjoy their phos and tacos every single time, spare a thought for those who have a negative predisposition - maybe genetic, or maybe just because of their cultural background.
And for the haters, there’s a community of people just like you who want to let you know you’re not alone. Head over to ihatecilantro.com , they are your people and they even do haikus aimed at denouncing the herb:
"Dark herb cilantro
Slithers through my burrito
If only I knew."