Cilantro, or Coriandrum sativum, is a member of the parsley family and widely used in many cuisines around the world. It is often used as a garnish, in Mexican and Indian dishes, or as a seasoning in many dishes. Unfortunately, not everyone is a fan of this flavorful herb, as some people report that it tastes like soap or has a metallic taste. So why is it that some people are so averse to cilantro?
The Soap-like Flavor
The reason cilantro can taste like soap for some people is due to a gene that codes for an odor receptor known as OR6A2. This gene helps us detect aldehyde chemicals, which are found in cilantro. Studies have also found that individuals with a higher sensitivity to the aldehyde chemicals found in cilantro can taste the soap-like flavor more intensely. This gene is more common in people of European descent, which could explain why more Europeans tend to dislike cilantro than individuals from other regions.
While the soap-like flavor is usually the primary complaint, some people have reported a metallic taste when consuming cilantro. This can be attributed to the presence of a compound called mercaptan. Mercaptan is an organic compound that is formed naturally in some foods and can give off an unpleasant metallic taste. This compound is found in higher concentrations in cilantro than in other foods, which could explain why some people can taste the metallic flavor more intensely.
Reactions to Cilantro
It is important to note that the reactions to cilantro can vary from person to person. Some people may have a mild dislike of the flavor, while others may find the flavor repulsive. For those who find cilantro unappealing, there are still ways to enjoy the herb. For example, if the soap-like flavor is the main issue, try using less cilantro in your dishes. Additionally, you can opt for other herbs that have similar flavors, such as parsley or dill.
The science behind why some people hate cilantro is complex and still not fully understood. Studies have found that a gene associated with odor receptors, as well as a compound called mercaptan, can influence how individuals perceive the flavor of cilantro. While some people may find the flavor repulsive, there are still ways to enjoy the herb, such as using less cilantro in your dishes or opting for other herbs with similar flavors.