Hot topic: Study aims to find out who hates cilantroTo a very vocal online contingent, cilantro is the very worst. On “I Hate Cilantro” websites and Facebook pages they gripe that the herb tastes like soap, mold or dirt. Cilantro haters not only despise its flavor, they also detest its smell.
By: MSNBC.com, INFORUM
To a very vocal online contingent, cilantro is the very worst.
On “I Hate Cilantro” websites and Facebook pages they gripe that the herb tastes like soap, mold or dirt. Cilantro haters not only despise its flavor, they also detest its smell.
Stories in publications as serious as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have even covered the sharp divide in taste preferences when it comes to this particular herb. And when a study of identical twins found an aversion to cilantro stems from a genetic glitch, the herb’s bashers finally had a good reason why they found the leaves of the Coriander plant so offensive.
But who are these people in the anti-cilantro community? No one had a clue – until now.
There has been no attempt to quantify which people hate the herb until two nutrition experts from the University of Toronto took a stab at it. They recently published their findings in the journal Flavour. In the study, they surveyed nearly 1,400 young adults ages 20 to 29 in Canada.
Volunteers completed a 63-item preference checklist in which they rated each food on a 9-point scale from 1 (dislike extremely) to 9 (like extremely).
Researchers found an aversion to cilantro ranged from a low of 3 percent to a high of 21 percent among six different ethnic groups.
Young Canadians with East Asian roots, which included those of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese descent, had the highest prevalence of people who disliked the herb at 21 percent. Caucasians were second at 17 percent, and people of African descent were third at 14 percent.
Among the herb’s fans, the group with the fewest number of people who disliked cilantro were those of Middle Eastern background at 3 percent, followed by those of Hispanic and South Asian ancestry at 4 percent and 7 percent respectively.
Exposure to the herb at an earlier age and with greater frequency in Mexican, Asian, and Indian cooking likely helps shape a positive flavor preference. Another possibility is that genetic differences among the cultural groups might influence someone’s taste perception of the herb.