The Great Taste Debate: Cilantro

Published on February 15, 2022

Chocolate vs vanilla, coffee vs tea. These are just a couple examples of debates that have been going on for generations. 

Arguably one of the most controversial of all:  cilantro vs no cilantro. Who would have thought this humble herb could be so polarizing?

Today we’re exploring its origins, and the discourse around its flavour.

Where does cilantro come from?

Cilantro is an annual herb that is native to regions spanning from Southern Europe to Northern Africa and Western Asia. All parts of the plants – leaves, stems and seeds– are edible, but the leaves and the dried seeds (also referred to as coriander in culinary language) are the most traditionally used in cooking. 

While popular in Mexican cuisine, it also appears in Indian, Thai, Chinese, Caribbean, Mediterranean, North African, and Eastern European dishes. It’s also a garnish that can be used in drinks such as lemonade.

It’s not you, it’s me

For many, the delicate leaves provide an aromatic flavour that resembles parsley with bright notes of citrus.

But many people claim it has a soapy or even metallic taste, so what’s the deal behind such different experiences?

It turns out it all comes down to genetics: according to a study conducted in 2012, those who tend towards this flavour profile have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that strongly pick up the aldehydes in the cilantro leaves, which is the culprit for the soapy flavour. While it’s not the most palatable flavour to those with this gene, at least there’s no foam involved.

Choose your own adventure

Whether you love it or you hate it, we can cater to it! Since you’re able to build your burritos, bowls, tacos, quesadillas and nachos exactly to your liking, you’re able to top off your meal with cilantro, or leave it out altogether.