The human is a complex being. Psychologists and scientists spend their lives dedicated to describing human behavior, personality, anatomy and so on. Their immense struggle to find perfect boxes and categories to fit people in, will forever exists. This is because people, for the most part, are not black and white. However, when it comes to a specific herb, putting people in a category becomes super easy. People either love cilantro or they absolutely cannot stand it. Somewhere between 4-14% percent of people take a bite of cilantro, squint their eyes, spit it out, and proceed to wonder who has planted poison in their meal. The rest of the world simply enjoys it. Cilantro can be found in multiple dishes across the world. Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine is loaded with the stuff.
In fact, cilantro provides multiple health benefits. This leafy green rids the body of heavy metals (no not the music genre), settles an upset stomach, prevents urinary tract infections, protects against food poisoning, lowers anxiety, improves sleep, protects against heart disease, and the list goes on. These health benefits will not change the mind of a cilantro hater. Although these people look like picky eaters and seem stubborn in their ways, they can’t change the way they feel about cilantro- no matter what you tell them.
This small percentage of people might be eating the same foods as everyone else at a table, but are experiencing a completely different taste. Most people can agree that it’s rude to show disgust when eating someone else’s food, but in the case of cilantro, it’s important to know that it’s not their fault for reacting in a disgusted way. It’s also good to note that your cooking is not to blame for their dramatic response to a bite of that soup you spent hours making. The reason for the difference in taste is simple. People who can’t seem to handle the taste of cilantro have a specific gene that makes an olfactory receptor called OR6A2. Olfactory receptors are heavily involved with smell, and smell influences how people taste. These receptors are located in your nose and can be damaged by smoke, (that’s why people who smoke cigarettes lose their sense of taste overtime).
Olfactory receptor OR6A2 is sensitive to the smell of aldehyde. Aldehyde is a chemical that can be found in soaps, and it exists in cilantro as well. If you wanted to know what it feels like for those who hate cilantro to eat it, go take a bit of soap in pop it in your mouth. Your reaction might make it easier for you to accept the cilantro haters that live among you.
For those of you who fall into the “hate-cilantro” category; try to remember a few things. One: no one has poisoned your food. Two: It’s not your fault! Three: good alternative is parsley.