Cilantro: Flavorful Herb or Vile Weed? Your DNA May Have the Answer
I have a fairly tolerable palate when it comes to food choices. I'm known in my family for liking food that is burning hot and flavors like onion garlic and blue cheese that are bold. I'm actually quite fond of saying, "I like food that stinks."
So to my taste buds, the flavor of cilantro is a somewhat mild accent. I was a bit taken aback when my mother a few years ago told me she did not care for the flavor. She made that typical squinched nose gesture with her face to underline her disapproval, as well as shaking her head in the "no" fashion just in case there was any doubt on my part. Trust me, mom, I got it, loud and clear.
Still, I was curious as to why such a slight flavor – well, when compared to garlic anyway – would elicit such a definitively negative response. Many times I had had the cilantro lime salad with identically-named and flavored dressing at Rotolo's Pizzeria (closest location being Tyler, check it out it's very good) with no adverse effects at all. Oh well, I just surmise that her tastes were becoming more like my father's, which are far more restrictive, with a wide swath of culinary dislike across many types of food ( anything with cumin for example).
Then a friend of mine told me of a genetic quirk where some folks' taste buds will render the flavor of cilantro as soap. I was reminded of this again when reading this article online. There have even been tests with sets of identical twins, where data showed that if one twin disliked cilantro because it tasted like soap, there's a greater than 8/10 chance the other twin also tasted cilantro in the same way. Among fraternal twins, it's about half.
I find this absolutely fascinating. Why is it some restaurants are jumping up-and-down about this flavor to the point that anyone who dislikes it will stay out of so-called "Fresh Mex" places like, say, Chipotle, where their preparing of some dishes without the herb is a special request? (You know what else is funny: my mom can't say "chipotle." She says "chipotay" which makes me giggle.)
Now if only they'd put garlic in everything. Something tells me a restaurant called Garlic and Onions wouldn't do as well as Chipotle.