First off, thanks for an excellent and reliably engaging podcast. In your recent episode on allergy Cindy mentioned an avoidance to cilantro and postulated that it might be related to a subclinical allergy. I recently found myself in a rabbit hole about how polarising cilantro was and your mention prompted me to share it. Can’t promise all the details are correct (I have a pretty superficial understanding), but mainly sharing as a point of curiousity.
The flavour of cilantro comes mainly from aldehyde moieties binding to olfactory receptors. One of these aldehydes (Trans-2 decenal) binds to OR6A2 olfactory receptor, and this receptor has genetic polymorphisms which correspond to an individual’s like or dislike of cilantro. There was a population study from 2012 in the journal ‘flavor’ (excellent journal name) which put the dislike prevalence at around 10-15%.
Couple others random factoids which might help explain a dislike of cilantro:
1. Aldehydes (including trans 2 decenal) are byproducts of saponification reactions and a lot of people who dislike cilantro specifically report a soap-y taste.
2. Trans 2 decenal is also the compound that give stinkbugs their characteristic pungent odor. I personally like cilantro, and have since wondered if I should start substituting stinkbugs into some salads for an additional protein boost.
3. If you don’t like cilantro but want to make it more tolerable for some reason, you can try mashing or grinding it up to a pulp. This releases an aldehyde reductase enzyme naturally present in the leaf and might blunt the flavour (I would personally just elect to avoid cilantro in this instance).
That’s all I’ve got, hope it helps explain why Cindy might dislike cilantro. Though I guess it’s also possible that she does have an allergy and a subconscious avoidance after all.
I think it was Cindy who said that she didn’t like the taste of cilantro? Maybe you already know, but there is a genetic variation that makes cilantro taste like soap to some people. Perhaps this is the cause.