The esteemed food science writer Harold McGhee reminds readers that some humans are genetically predisposed to hate cilantro. We know this already and feel bad for those people.
The untold story is the segment of the population that finds olives repellent. Olive oil poses no problem, but olives themselves – any kind – make us gag.
My personal theory is that this is a genetic remnant from a time when olives were poisonous to some ancestor of Homo sapiens. I’m only half joking.
When friends are planning to cook for me and ask if there’s anything I don’t eat, my stock answer is: “I will eat anything except an olive.” There are foods I don’t like (licorice, for example) but I’ll still eat them to be polite. Olives? No way.
This sometimes causes awkwardness with others. People think at first I am a picky eater. “Just the opposite,” I protest. And then when I go into detail, they are so surprised by what I tell them that I think they don’t believe me.
In my lifetime I’ve only met two others who possess the olive repulsion. Interestingly, they are both from Scotland.
No doubt olivaphobia is a rare trait, and that’s why we haven’t read about it in the Times. Maybe if we took a head count we’d learn there are more of us than anyone realized. Olive haters of the world: leave a comment.