There’s A Scientific Reason Why Some People Hate Coriander
Today, February 24, is officially the day all of us coriander haters can rise up against the devil’s herb. Why? Because it’s International ‘I Hate Coriander’ Day, of course.
For those of you who love coriander, or even those who are indifferent to the herb, you’re probably wondering why the bloody hell such a day would even exist.
For those of you who – like me – categorically do not like it though, and whose lives have been cursed by the soapy, evil taste of coriander whenever restaurants sneak it into their dishes, you’ll know exactly why it’s needed.
Yes, it’s true. I don’t like coriander. Actually, no. I don’t just dislike it. I despise it. I hate it with every bone in my body, in fact.
Don’t ask me where this hatred comes from, because I don’t know. All I know is that, for years, I’d be eating a meal when all of a sudden an inexplicable taste of soap would fill my mouth and I’d be left wondering what the hell just happened.
As I’m not very culinary-minded, I’m ashamed to say it took me way longer than necessary to realise what the soapy taste was. Was the dishwasher faulty and throwing out parts of the capsules onto the plates? Was someone secretly spiking my food with soap?
Nope, turns out the only thing I was being spiked with was coriander, and let me tell you I was not impressed.
Once I asked around and realised what exactly was infesting my food though, you’d better believe I put a stop to it. And I’m happy to report that since going coriander free, I’ve only been outsmarted by the herb on a few occasions.
If you’re sat there judging me for my seemingly unjustified hatred, you should know I’m not the only one. Which, when you think about the fact an entire day has been dedicated to peoples’ hatred of the herb, shouldn’t really come as that much of a surprise.
Not only have more than 240,000 people gathered in a Facebook community aptly called ‘I Hate Coriander,’ but there’s even an #Ihatecoriander hashtag on Twitter, which none other than Steven Fry has used – albeit three years ago.
Don’t believe me? Take a look:
There’s also a website with the URL ‘ihatecoriander.org,’ from which you can buy a tote bag for as little as $4.95 and a hoodie for as much as $44.95. You can also buy sunglasses for $9.95, t-shirts for $29.95, and ‘coriander free zone’ artwork for $35.
Despite this, it pains me to say I’m in the minority. A study conducted by 23andMe, the largest genetic testing company, found only 26 percent of people with European ancestry disliked the herb, while only 12 per cent of people with Asian ancestry did. According to a study published by BMC, only 3 per cent of people from the Middle East dislike the herb.
Basically, the majority of people actually like (well, love) coriander. And to those people I say: why?! Apparently, it all comes down to science. When comparing the DNA of coriander haters to coriander lovers, the researchers found a genetic variation thought to be associated with those who found it soapy-tasting.
Their report said:
Cilantro’s aromatic qualities primarily depend on a group of compounds known as aldehydes. One type of aldehyde has been described as being ‘fruity’ and ‘green’ and another type as being ‘soapy’ and ‘pungent’.
One of the eight genes near the SNP we identified codes for a receptor called OR6A2, which is known to detect aldehydes such as those found in cilantro.
As per The Telegraph, it’s estimated approximately 10 percent of the population are affected by the gene which causes coriander to have an unpleasant flavour.
This receptor gene causes the olfactory substances in the plant to bind in a stronger manner to the receptors, and is more common in women and people of European descent. So, check and check.
Professor Russell Keast, who specialises in sensory food science at Deakin University’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, backs this claim up, putting our love/hate relationship with the herb down to our genetics.
Writing on the university’s website, the professor explained we have ‘smell receptors in our nose that are responsible for identifying volatile compounds in the atmosphere, including volatile compounds released from potential foods’.
It’s these smell receptors which determine what we taste when we eat coriander. However, they are ‘highly variable’ between people, so individual perceptions of the herb can differ greatly.
Depending on the variant of smell receptors a person has, they might experience a soap-like flavour when they consume coriander, instead of the herb-like flavour the majority of people experience.
So if, like me, you perceive coriander to be the devil’s herb and are judged heavily for it on a daily basis, don’t stress. Next time someone tries to bring you down and question all of your life choices because of a measly herb, just point out the simple fact of science.
All you need to do whenever Mike or Susan or Rob calls you a disgrace for actively hating the stuff – because that day will come, I promise you – is look them in the eye and say just one thing.
Which is this:
Oi, Susan, just because I have receptor gene OR6A2, which causes the olfactory substances in coriander to bind in a stronger manner and taste like actual soap, it doesn’t make me any less of a human being!
Or, to keep things simple, just tell Susan to back off because you’ve been cursed with a gene which makes coriander taste God awful.
After all, you can’t argue with science, right?
Happy ‘I Hate Coriander Day’, guys!
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CreditsI Hate Coriander/Facebook and 5 others
I Hate Coriander/Facebook