Scientists have had a hunch for some time that hating on coriander might be partly inherited. But now a genetic survey of nearly 30,000 people has given us a definitive answer: hating coriander is hard-wired into your genes.
Lots of people — including the likes of culinary goddess Julia Child — have claimed that it tastes offensive. Kinda like soap, in fact. Also, a recent survey suggested that 21 per cent of east Asians, 17 per cent of Europeans and 14 per cent of people of African descent claim to be repulsed by the stuff, also known as cilantro.
Now, consumer genetics firm 23andMe, based in Mountain View, has carried outa genetic survey of 30,000 people to get to the bottom of the problem. By identifying those who didn’t like coriander, researchers were able to pinpoint genetic variants linked to coriander-hating.
The strongest variant lies within a cluster of olfactory-receptor genes — part of the genome that influences our sense of smell. Buried within that cluster is a gene called OR6A2, which encodes a receptor that makes people sensitive to the aldehyde chemicals contributing to coriander’s characteristic flavour. The findings were confirmed in a second follow-up study which produced the same results, and have now been published on the arXiv server.
Genetics play a part in food preferences, but so do behaviour and exposure — so as conclusive as this evidence is, don’t assume a coriander bias isn’t also influenced by trauma you suffered from eating a terrible taco. [arXiv via Nature]