I love having a herb garden, and one of the very first things I did when we moved into our new home was to plant one. I use them every day in salads, sandwiches, stirfrys, curries or just as a garnish.
But nothing polarizes my family like coriander. We have the lovers and the haters. I am a lover, I would add it to everything – I will just eat by itself. But there are those that wont touch a meal that has added – they say it is disgusting and taste like soap.
Why is this so..? I had to find out – so here is a the story of why some people love coriander and some hate it. It turns out that different people perceive the taste of coriander leaves differently. Those who like it describe it as refreshing with a lemony-ginger flavour. while those with an aversion to it talk of soap or bugs!!
And with apologies to Miss19, whom I did not believe when she tried to avoid coriander – studies have shown that there is a strong genetic component linked to your perception of coriander! The aroma and taste of coriander is created by a number of substances, most of which are aldehydes. Those who dislike the taste are sensitive to the offensive aldehydes while at the same time unable to detect the aromatic chemicals that others find pleasant.
” O soap flavour/ why pollute my food? / Thou me makest retch”
You might be surprised to find that these eloquent words were not written by Shakespeare but by one of the many contributors to the website IHateCilantro.com. (Cilantro is the common name of coriander in North America.) Even my beloved Julia Child was a hater!
But I am a lover – so it is happily growing in my herb garden. You can use every part of the plant – the leaves, stems seeds and roots and it is actually a member of the carrot family. It is native to the Mediterranean and to Western Asia and an essential ingredient in Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, North African and Latin American food.
Coriander seeds are mentioned in the Old Testament, they were placed in Tutankhamen’s tomb and in AD812 the Emperor Charlemagne ordered coriander to be grown on Imperial farms. It has been used in Chinese cooking for more than 5000 years and in the Middle Ages coriander was used in Love Potions and it is often included in stomach tonics and to relieve migraines.
Are you a lover or a hater? Let me know in the comments below. The witch (I mean chemist) in me is tempted to make a love potion. There is some evidence that crushing coriander breaks down the aldehyde molecules to which the coriander-haters are most sensitive. Looks like I will have to get out my mortar and pestle.