Out of all the most divisive foods out there, cilantro is one of the worst offenders. Some people love it and can’t eat a taco without it, while to others it simply tastes like soap and ruins everything it touches. Is this wide disparity just a matter of taste, or is there something deeper going on?
According to a report issued by the journal Nature in 2012, there are two genetic variants that are linked to the way we perceive the herb. In a genetic survey of nearly 30,000 people, the major variant was traced to a cluster of genes that influence smell, called olfactory-receptor genes. This doesn’t mean that whether someone will like cilantro or not is definitively linked to genes, but it does mean that genes play a part in preference.
Another reason why some like cilantro and others don’t is because of the form it takes. The study advocates turning the cilantro into a pesto (or grinding it up in general before use), because that will do away with a lot of the smell.