Is Hating Coriander Genetic?

There are a small, but vehement, group of people that hate Coriander with a passion. But it turns out that they might not be fussy; instead, they might just be unlucky enough to be beneficiaries of a curious genetic mutation.

A new study conducted at the University of Toronto looked at the preferences of 1400 young adults, and found that Coriander aversion varies dramatically between ethnic groups. Those with East Asian roots, for instance, tend to be coriander (also called cilantro in the Americas) haters, with 21 per cent disliking the herb. On the flip side, those with a Middle Eastern background are big fans, with only three per cent finding the taste repellent. Caucasians, for what it's worth, sit closer to the hating end of spectrum, with 17 per cent disliking the taste. The results are published in Flavour.

While it's easy to suggest that it might be exposure at an early age that gives people a taste for the herb — and to some extent, that certainly will be the case — the researchers suggest that it has a genetic basis, too. Ahmed El-Sohemy, one of the researchers, explains to MSNBC:

"Cilantro is perhaps the most polarising with large numbers either loving it or hating it. People who dislike cilantro extremely describe it very, very differently from those who love it ... These individuals live in very different sensory worlds and are not perceiving the same thing."

In fact, the view that a taste for coriander is genetic is becoming widely accepted throughout the academy. So, does that mean cilantro hating is definitely hard-wired? No, not quite. In truth, though there's a growing body of evidence that the aversion is in some way genetic, scientists are yet to pin-point a single gene that's responsible for the dislike. So, until they do, you can continue to call out your friends as fussy. [Flavour via MSNBC]

Image: Getty/Andreas Rentz


Comments

    To avoid confusion, Americans call coriander "cilantro". For the record, I sit firmly in the hate camp, although I have long thought myself to be the only one. The combination of coriander, lemongrass and coconut products is why I hate Thai food (again, I am the only person I know who hates Thai food).

      MotorMouth I too sit in exactly the same position. Even just the smell of coriander makes me sick.

      I once went to an Asian restaurant and ordered a meal without coriander and whilst it didn't have it in it when I started to eat it, they had obviously cooked the meal with it in there. I then threw up.

      I love Thai food, but hate coriander.

        It's not Thai food without coriander!

    I cant even eat anything that has even a speck of it in it, my partner loves it & has given up trying to sneak it in my food after I involuntarily gagged and spat out a mouthful of food at a family gathering.... turns out she tossed one salad with coriander in it and used same tools to toss a non coriander salad..

    I love the stuff, but I can empathise with the "hate" crowd. My thing is overripe bananas. I involuntarily gag and start dry retching if I eat any.

    Wow,I thought I was the only one. Coriander just tastes disgusting to me. From what I can taste in my mouth,I can't believe anyone would eat it.

    If you don't put coriander in your mi-goreng you're doing it wrong

      No, you're making one that someone who hates coriander will eat :P

        That doesn't change the fact you're doing it wrong!

    I live 4 coriander.

    just 1 word.... "yuck!"

    My father hates coriander and because of this I didn't even try it until i was 17, but since then its been a wild love affair. It's so good! I can't eat curries without a pile of coriander on top. My partner at the time worked at a thai restaurant and when I ate there I was amazed at how good it tasted, I quickly found out it was coriander that made it taste amazing. I really feel for people who can't eat coriander because it, along with mangoes, are the only foods that i genuinely LOVE.

    guess what secret recipe involves coriander?
    http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011/02/coca-colas-secret-recipe-finally-revealed/

    ps. i loathe the stuff too, in my younger days i was force fed coriander soup. yukkk.

    Julia Child says something on one of her shows about cilantro being a base ingredient in a lot of early soaps in the west. A lot of westerners believe it tastes like soap and it takes practice...

    I'm not so sure.

    I used to hate it passionately, now I love it just as passionately. I could eat coriander salads and be happy.

    So, I don't know. I suppose my comment adds nothing to the research.

    I don't like the stuff. But I'm not as full on as some of the others here. I just find it's flavour very strong, and on it's own, not at all tasty. So if there's a tiny bit in a huge batch of curry, that's fine, but when you start sprinkling it into a bowl of pho, that's when I can't handle it.

    Tastes like metallic bananas to me. Sure it can add some unique flavours to dishes, but usually it just overwhelms them (I feel the same way about capsicum, the flavour is too strong and it ends up overpowering everything else in a dish).

    I used hate it, I couldnt stand it! And slowly you can train your tastebuds to like it. You have to have a little every now and then and after a while .... For me a couple of years I started to like it. Now I love it

    Love coriander MMMmMmm feel like it now with breakfast.
    Need to grow it again, last one turned into a flowering bush.

    I hate coriander but love flat leave parsley, I have always found people that love coriander hate flat leafed parsley.....Its either one or the other, anyone else find this?

    Im a Mutant , hate it with a passion and thinks it should not be used in cooking :-)

      OH MY GOSH! I hate coriander as much as you do! When I was an innocent 9 or 10 year old kid, my uncle snuck some into an oyster omlet. Coriander tastes poisonous and I don't even want a skerrick on my food. Haters unite!!

    absolutely loathe coriander, tastes like metal rolled in arsenic to me, vomit material every time. Can taste it when its added to a dish so have to tell people NO Coriander anywhere near my food...same goes for the flat leaf parsley ...horrible taste yet i like ''''''proper'''' parsley (the old english curly looking one.....

    Wow! I thought my mother and I were the only ones - both of us get headaches and vomiting and once it was like I had the Flu with fever, sweats and severe back pain. It took ages to pinpoint it as coriander but now the sight and smell makes me retch!

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