Cilantro hating, explained | Rock Candy

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cilantro hating, explained

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Fascinating piece in the New York Times today that looks to explain the vocal minority of eaters who can't stand cilantro. I'm definitely not a hater, though I've encountered my fair share. Cilantro is good in just about everything! A taco, for one, is no taco without cilantro.

But apparently some people taste bugs and soap when they eat the herb. Which has etymological and chemical roots.

The authoritative Oxford Companion to Food notes that the word “coriander” is said to derive from the Greek word for bedbug, that cilantro aroma “has been compared with the smell of bug-infested bedclothes” and that “Europeans often have difficulty in overcoming their initial aversion to this smell.”

...Flavor chemists have found that cilantro aroma is created by a half-dozen or so substances, and most of these are modified fragments of fat molecules called aldehydes. The same or similar aldehydes are also found in soaps and lotions and the bug family of insects.

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