I Hate Cilantro

For years I believed that every Mexican restaurant my family took me to had some kind of problem with their dishwashing machine. Why else would the food always taste like soap? No one around me seemed to notice, so I just assumed that everyone else liked the taste of dirty dishwater in their food.

Fast-forward several years to college: I’m at dinner with some friends, and a girl named Alice asks the waiter “Could you not put cilantro on that? It tastes like soap to me.”

I was so excited. Not only had I found someone who had experienced the soapy food phenomenon, I now had an answer for what was causing it: Cilantro.

It turns out that Alice and I aren’t so special. There are lots of people who hate cilantro. Some, like us, think it tastes like soap. Others think it tastes like doll hair, stinkbugs, or burnt rubber. (See ihatecilantro.com for a long and colorful list of descriptors, as well as stories from fellow cilantro-haters).

There’s some evidence that hating cilantro (or as I like to think of it, realizing how gross cilantro truly is) is genetic. One study found that identical twins (who share 100% of their genes) are more likely to have the same opinion of cilantro compared to fraternal twins.

Could there be a SNP that explains why I hate cilantro but my husband loves it, just as there are SNPs behind my wet earwax and ability to drink milk with no lactose intolerance problems? This is the kind of question we hope 23andWe can answer.

By taking 23andWe surveys, customers can help us advance scientific research. We’ve already asked about which hand and eye they use more, whether they’ve ever had any cavities, and of course, whether they can smell anything in their pee after they eat asparagus. In the coming months, there’ll be plenty more surveys. And as we move forward, we’ll also be asking about more serious traits related to health and disease risk.

23andWe is consumer-enabled research (CER™). So we want to ask you, our customers and potential customers: What do you want to know about? Do you have a particular preference that you suspect is determined by your genes? Have you always wondered if some distinctive family characteristic is due to nature or nurture? Leave us a comment!