16 April 2010

Hope for the cilantro-ickies

I can only handle cilantro in small doses. I've heard of some people having a genetic disposition to the plant, but this NY Times piece clears things up a little bit.

The senses of smell and taste evolved to evoke strong emotions, he explained, because they were critical to finding food and mates and avoiding poisons and predators. When we taste a food, the brain searches its memory to find a pattern from past experience that the flavor belongs to. Then it uses that pattern to create a perception of flavor, including an evaluation of its desirability.

If the flavor doesn’t fit a familiar food experience, and instead fits into a pattern that involves chemical cleaning agents and dirt, or crawly insects, then the brain highlights the mismatch and the potential threat to our safety. We react strongly and throw the offending ingredient on the floor where it belongs.
But there is hope! Apparently, people (like me!) who get the cilantro-ickies can re-train their brains to have positive responses to it.

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