"Green as old vomit/ coriander sativum/ tastes of anarchy," Y2Ksurvivor opines. Y2Ksurvivor is one of nearly 4,000 registered users on the site IHateCilantro.com, and they are not the only ones who dislike the polarizing spice. A study published in Flavour in May found that a significant portion of various ethnic groups disliked cilantro: 21 percent of East Asians disliked the herb, 17 percent of people of European descent, 14 percent of people of African descent, 7 percent of South Asians, 4 percent of Hispanics, and 3 percent of Middle Easterners disliked the herb.

But why?

The herb looks nice enough. Green and leafy, cilantro (or, as the Brits call it, coriander) is the leaf from the coriander sativum plant. But, while some enjoy it, others describe its taste and smell as foul, like soap or dirt. Cilantro haters even have celebrities in their ranks: the late chef and spy Julia Child would have fit right into the community on IHateCilantro.com. She said to Larry King in a 2002 interview that, if she received a dish with cilantro in it, she would pick it out and throw it on the floor. Now, researchers think that they have found at least one reason for the extreme hatred of cilantro: genes.

In a study published on arXiv, researchers examined 14,604 European participants who said that they hated cilantro, and 11,851 participants who said that they liked it. The researchers were led by Nicholas Erikkson from the genetic testing company 23andMe. They found two genetic variants that indicated whether or not people liked cilantro.

The most strongly linked variant was found in a cluster of olfactory-receptor genes, which influence people's sense of smell. One of these genes, OR6A2, encodes a receptor that is highly sensitive to the aldehyde chemicals that contribute to cilantro's taste and smell. He found that, in Europeans, about half of them were found to have two copies of the soapy gene. In people with two copies, about 15 percent reported a disdain for cilantro. In people with no copies, 11 percent reported disliking cilantro.

Researchers were careful to say that dislike of cilantro did not come exclusively from genes. They estimate that less than 10 percent of cilantro preference comes from genes. Therefore, it is just as likely that cilantro-haters had a bad experience at Chipotle.

This reporter believes the researchers should go on and discover the genetic anomalies that explain why people like cheese.