“Tastes like dish soap”: why do some people hate coriander?

Tastes like dish soap why do some people hate coriander

Women are more likely to hate this aromatic herb, according to researchers.

There coriander is a divisive aromatic herb. Some love to sprinkle it on their dishes while others hate it, comparing it to a taste of “soap”, “dishwashing detergent”, or even “crushed bug”. Moreover, it is no coincidence that the word “coriander”, which comes from the Greek “koris”, means “bug”. But why is coriander so divisive? Several researchers have looked into the question and according to them, the explanation is genetic.

Seed and fresh coriander © oilslo – 123RF

To explain this strange link, scientists from the University of Mountain View in California (United States) analyzed more than 70,000 people from a European cohort. Participants had to specify whether they liked fresh coriander or not and whether it tasted like soap to them. Genotyping was then carried out, an analysis which aims to identify the genetic makeup of an individual from their DNA, that is to say their genotype.

At the end of their follow-up, the researchers discovered that people who had a particular type of genes (those of the OR6A2 group) on their olfactory receptors associated the taste of coriander with that of soap, which led to an aversion and disgust for this aromatic herb. “The main aromatic components of coriander consist of various aldehydes [qui] activate these olfactory receptors in charge of detecting soapy or pungent aromas on the taste buds“, explain the researchers in their study. These same aldehydes are also present in soap molecules. Worldwide, 10 to 15% of the population carry these genes.

Furthermore, the researchers found significant differences in the detection of soapy taste depending on the gender and ethnic origin of the people. For example, women are more likely to detect a soapy taste (and therefore dislike cilantro) than men. African Americans, Latinos, East Asians, and South Asians are all significantly less likely to detect a soap taste compared to Europeans, which could explain why cilantro, native to the Mediterranean rim, is more used in African, South American and Asian cuisines. However, don’t panic: for loyal opponents of coriander, know that the fresh leaves can easily be replaced by flat-leaf parsley (with a more subtle taste) and the seeds by a “5 berry mix” which is slightly sweet and less floral.