About 20% of the world’s population has a variation of the OR6A2 gene that makes them hate the taste and smell of fresh coriander, aka cilantro. I am one of them.
In Germany, cilantro isn’t all that popular – I distinctly remember a small Thai takeout restaurant in the town of Burghausen though, which is where I first encountered it. Or rather, encountered my disdain for it…
Even after 10 years in California, it remains a challenge. I’m not talking about even trying to get used to the taste and smell of cilantro – this NPR article on cilantro hate recommends trying a cilantro pesto in order to get used to the taste and smell. Crushing the leaves supposedly releases an enzyme that helps to “convert the soapy, stinky compounds into more mild aromas”. Why would I ruin perfectly fine, freshly cooked pasta with converted soapy, stinky compounds?! 😜
No, the challenge that remains for me is to remember that this weed of the devil is used often as an ingredient or garnish in both Mexican and Asian cuisine – and to explicitly tell people to NOT use it when ordering food.
One such happy occasion when I did remember (and believe me, the unhappy occasions when I forget are far more) was when we tried a little taco place in our neighborhood that has earned a reputation for its rather authentic taco offerings. It led to this funny order printout:
Vegetarian options are rather limited when ordering tacos, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t order the Nopal tacos again (nopales are slices of Opuntia cactus pads). The guacamole did not save them. It was a slimy mess.
The Adobada tacos were good, but the real winner were the Suadero tacos. As the Wikipedia article mentions, it’s the texture of the particular meat that is used which makes it diffferent. I found it interesting how the Mexican and Asian cuisine both use all kinds of different meats and how the texture seems to play a role in what, how and why those are appreciated. Preferably, without cilantro for me, of course.
And regarding the cilantro again: people who don’t like it commonly describe it as tasting “soapy” – that doesn’t quite fit. But while I’ve never tried to actually take a bite out of one of those deodorizing bricks in men’s urinals, I’m fairly certain: that is the taste and smell of cilantro. REVOLTING.
So it’s not going to happen. I don’t want or need to get used to it. Some people don’t like onions, some people don’t like avocado. 😉 I don’t like cilantro. It’s okay to be different.