Saturday, 14 April 2012

L Likes and dislikes - our unique individual tastes

We humans are a fascinating species. Just think of the diversity of language and cultures that have evolved in different parts of the world. One thing I find fascinating is the question of tastes – and taste. For example I have a strong aversion to olives, yet I enjoy tasting different olive oils.  I absolutely loathe cilantro, one of the most widely used herbs in South American foods, yet I love anchovies on pizza and in Caesar salad – a choice that causes some of my friends to throw up their hands in disgust.
One of my friends and regular reader of said “enough with the cilantro already- we know you hate the stuff”. But as the sole anti-cilantro diner in our group of about 12 foodies, I feel strangely compelled to justify my aversion.
So here goes with some cilantro factoids.
Some revered chefs hate cilantro too. Julia Child is famous for her remarks in a Larry King interview that she dislikes cilantro so much that she picks it out of a dish and throws it onto the floor.
It seems that there is a biological reason for the anti-cilantro brigade to loathe the stuff as much as we do. Two genetic polymorphisms that occur in about a quarter of different populations, confer the trail of tasting a nasty soapy flavour when the dread herb enters the mouth. Twin studies also suggest strongly that cilantro-hating is a genetic characteristic. 
I bet that if anyone cared to look for it, there would be genetic polymorphisms that  contribute to the anti-olive and anti-anchovy brigade too.

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