There are two types of people in the world, those who love cilantro and those who will burn a Mexican restaurant to the ground if they even think about putting cilantro on their taco. Personally, I don’t think cilantro has much of a taste so I didn’t understand why people had such a strong aversion to it. But as it turns out, those people aren’t just picky, there is actual scientific proof that it tastes like soap to 4-14% of people.
This is probably the most controversial food at the moment. The haters and the die-hard cilantro fans will never see eye to eye because it isn’t something you grow to like; it is in your DNA to hate it. And when you find someone on your team, it’s an instant connection.
Hank Green explains in his Youtube show SciShow that cilantro has a soapy taste to some people because of their genes. People who hate cilantro tend to have the olfactory receptor genes OR6A2. Because of this, they can detect the smell of aldehyde chemicals which are present in cilantro and soap. Basically, these smell receptor genes detect the smell of soap.
Many aldehydes have smells that we all know and love like vanillin, which obviously smells like vanilla and cinnamaldehyde which smells like cinnamon. As Green explains, “there is more than one aldehyde responsible for cilantro’s distinctive smell, and they also happen to be a byproduct of soap making.”
Since the taste of cilantro is genetic, some studies have found that people with shared genes, such as identical twins, are more likely to have a shared opinion of the herb. One experiment Green mentions concluded that 80% of identical twins share a like or dislike for cilantro. Sorry to all the haters out there, but it’s something you’ll have to live with.