Are there any among you who do not like the smell of coriander leaves? Some claim that coriander leaves smell like insects like beetles! Many are actually 'allergic' to the scent of coriander. Why?
Coriander in English is known as cilantro or coriander. Its scientific name is Coriandrum sativum. It is a herbaceous plant of the Apiaceae family.
A chemical compound influences the smell of coriander called linalool. It gives each person a different sense of smell and taste. Some find the smell of fresh cilantro have a citrus flavour. Some find it smells like soap, insects and some even say it looks like rotten vegetables!
Why is this happening? It is because coriander leaves contain high aldehyde compounds which are also found in soaps and some insects. Examples are aroma compounds from the group (E) -2-alkenes and unsaturated aldehydes such as decanal.
Why do some people feel there is no strange smell on coriander?
Our genetics also influences it. There are clusters of genes that affect taste perception in humans. For example, the OR6A2 gene encodes sensitive receptors on aldehyde compounds.
So, if a person has this gene variation, they will be susceptible to the smell of aldehydes. For example, on coriander, other people smell more citrus than linalool, people with genetic variation OR6A2 can smell the aldehyde soap and insects.
According to a study, there are 14-21% of East Asians, Caucasians and Africans who do not like coriander. Meanwhile, only 3-7% of the population such as West Asia, South Asia, Hispanic and the Middle East do not like the smell of cilantro.
What about you?
1) Knaapila, A. et al. Chem. Senses http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjs070
2) Mauer, L. & El-Sohemy, A. Flavour http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2044-7248-1-8(2012).
3) Quynh, C. T. T., Iijima, Y. & Kubota, K. J. Agr. Food Chem. 58, 1093–1099 (2010).