Why do some people hate cilantro?
Ever wonder why some people despise the taste of cilantro? Blame it on biology.
Some people love it. Some people hate it.
Some believe this is the best way to cook it. Here is the science behind why you might hate cilantro.
The science behind it
“Each and every person has a slightly different composition of smell receptors in their nose. In other words, each and every person responds slightly differently to the same odor that will be presented to everybody,” Jay Gottfried, a neurobiologist from the University of Pennsylvania, explains to Brut.
That different smell experience is influenced by chemicals, including aldehydes; They are present in cilantro but also soap and bugs.
Gottfried continues, “There's some very interesting chemical molecules in the plant or a leaf. Many of them are aldehydes that are often associated with kind of soapy notes or hand lotion, smells, stuff like that. These are the sorts of things that we wouldn't normally eat. Aldehydes are a very common kind of molecule and depending on how the human nose is reacting to those outside molecules, there may be a large minority of people who perceive that as being more soap like and therefore less food like.”
A common ingredient
Cilantro dislike hovers between 3 and 21% of the world’s population. Julia Child was a famous cilantro-phobe who once stated, “Cilantro and arugula I don't like at all. They have kind of a dead taste to me. I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.” Cilantro is a common ingredient in many different types of food. For example, cilantro is an essential part of Mexican, Vietnamese, Moroccan, and Thai cuisines.
Behavior and exposure also play a part in food preferences
Dr. Jay Gottfried used to hate the herb, but managed to overcome his dislike. His advice is to “try a little at a time, kind of start with small doses. I remember when I was a kid growing up in California where there's lots of yummy Mexican food. Whenever cilantro was on the dish, I would at least remove it if not express pretty active disgust. It seems so soapy to me. But over the years. Growing up, I would be exposed to the cilantro again and again, and I would be surrounded by friends and family, some of whom enjoyed it very much. And so over time, I began to kind of be more accepting of it. I would say at this point. I don't kind of crave cilantro, but I'm very happy to eat it with my food.” He concludes by stating, “Yes, it may, it may taste sort of soapy, but this is a molecule and it's a molecule that's in this really impressive herb that complements a lot of nice foods.”