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‘Taste’ is a matter of DNA…

‘Taste’ is a matter of DNA…

* Find my original Facebook posts here and there (Different people comment on each post). 
** Collage by Sara El-Yafi 

I am someone who cannot stand the sound of someone chewing. I get a chemical reaction in my body that spurs me to want to grab the nearest object and toss it in the direction of that person’s cranium with an aim at their nasolabial fold. I always thought it was just a personal pet peeve, and that I simply had to do my best to contain myself when surrounded with squashing crunch and chomp chewing people, and tie myself down with the shackles of diplomacy and kindliness in hope that the mandibular gyrations do not cause me to be overcome me with murderous intentions. It’s been tough but so far, so good…

Well, it turns out that my irritated reaction might actually be completely DNA linked… As the neuroscientist Aage R. Moller put it, “It is hard-wired. Like being left-handed or right-handed.”
23andme.com, the genomics and biotechnological company that tests for genealogy and genome sequencing, is a company that conducts tests and surveys on human DNA to figure out the links between inherited traits and genealogy of people… and they’ve been finding out that there’s a lot more attributed to biology than we thought.

The results of the survey “Does the sound of other people chewing fill you with rage?” have so far yielded the following:

YES – 20%
NO – 74%
Not sure – 4%

First of all, this is actually a scientific question and it has been yielding scientific results. Through a series of similar questions, 23andme has gathered enough information from their pool of 50,000 customers and inferred that our tastes in life may simply be ordained by our genetics. Interestingly enough, their biggest finding insofar has been our genetic opinion of cilantro (coriandre or الكزبرة). This is one of the most controversial herbs because while there are people who are not bothered by it, there are people who hate it so much that they have set up a website advocating for the annihilation of cilantro: www.ihatecilantro.com

Indeed for some people, cilantro destroys their meal so badly that they wish to set fields of cilantro on fire. To them it tastes like soap, or like stingbugs and dirt, or like the plague. Funny. Why do some people love cilantro, while others hate it with every fiber of their being?

Well, when they compared the DNA of the cilantro haters to the DNA of cilantro lovers, ’23andme’ found a genetic variation called rs72921001 to be associated with the trait in a subset of about 25,000 people with European ancestry. (About 39 percent of surveyors with European ancestry answered that cilantro tastes awful.) People with the less common version of rs72921001 had lower odds of perceiving a soapy taste and of disliking the herb. And they uncovered that there is a genetic variation associated with olfactory receptors. Indeed, it may be that genetics and taste most likely have a causal relationship. And that same chemical set off by smells can be found in both appealing and unappealing places yet mean different things to different people— it’s like that with the smell of cheese and body odor. That is also probably why Chinese people smell “Chinese” to white people, and white people smell “white” to Chinese people, and in many cases, it’s not “appealing.”

Now, although none of these studies are 100% conclusive, we now actually have proof that there is an actual scientific reason as to why we should simply NOT JUDGE PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT FROM US. Those who have different tastes, or attractions, no matter how repulsive to you, are subjected to a matter of biology…

It all comes full circle doesn’t it? The wisest of humans will tell you that wisdom and compassion are the essence of an enlightened life. Wisdom and compassion are inextricably linked in acceptance and tolerance. And now the study of life in its essence is showing us through its wisdom that there might be no other way to live life but through compassion and tolerance because being intolerant to DNA is being intolerant to life. How can you win?

So what they say in French is true: “les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas” trans. “Tastes and colors are not to be debated”… الأذواق والألوان لا تناقش… Tolerance is the way to an enlightened life…

But for the love of God, please chew properly with your mouth closed with minimal sound. You never know if the person next to you harbors the genetic variation “becomes-murderous-when-exposed-to-mandibular-gyrations”. You’ll be sorry. You’ll be very sorry…

Written by Sara El-Yafi

32 Comments

  1. Sam Wahab · March 5, 2013

    lol

  2. Lina Sergie · March 5, 2013

    I’m part of the 20%.

  3. Marie-Anne Issa · March 5, 2013

    Well, you can read more about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misophonia

    And you may be interested in reading this book too (I started reading it 2 weeks ago): http://www.amazon.com/Suffering-Succotash-Picky-Eaters-Understand/dp/0399537503
    xoxo

  4. Bass B · March 5, 2013

    Ditto!

  5. Hassane 'Sean' Mahfouz · March 5, 2013

    Hahahhahhaha I have a family member that chews loudly! Any time we are around the same table…. I start having visuals in my head of me slapping him with my dish in the face! Bi tam2is!! Lol I get mad just writing about it!

  6. Laura Carolina Rudert · March 5, 2013

    lol! I am the same. so funny. thank god its partially genetic- i was thinking i was just a b@#$

  7. Marwa Younes · March 5, 2013

    I actually saw this post through Marie-Anne’s comment and it made me do a double take 🙂 I was recently researching something quite similar, that actually falls on the opposite spectrum in terms of effect: ASMR (or autonomous sensory meridian response, ..neologism rather than an established phenomenon). Funny that I completely relate to your murderous intentions when it comes to chewing and very specific people (namely direct family), but then this ASMR phenomenon comes into play for me with pretty much anyone else and chewing. I’d be intensely interested to see where this research goes. (Hope you’re doing well btw 🙂 )

  8. Omar Mukhtar Khan · March 5, 2013

    Hilarious and informative:)

  9. Mohammed Zigby · March 5, 2013

    …..(con’t from previous comment) and, multilingual. Just brilliant.

  10. Carmen Ruf · March 5, 2013

    So agreed on!!

  11. Jacob Kureh · March 5, 2013

    OMG. I hate it. I was thinking about this yesterday when I was sitting next to someone chewing with his mouth open. It makes me so uncomfortable and angry.

  12. Wassef Ezzedine · March 5, 2013

    Genome or not one thing is sure, you should keep writing and even write more… 🙂

  13. Farah Shoucair · March 5, 2013

    Sara, you’re absolutely crazy! Miss you xx

  14. Hana Samouri · March 5, 2013

    😀 i just love your conclusion! indeed it comes full circle, BUT..

  15. Sara El-Yafi · March 5, 2013

    Thank you my friends for all your support. It is beautiful to know that one may not be alone in their worldly traumas. ihatecilantro.com have a very noble cause that they fight for every day, let us extend our sympathy and support to them. As for the loud chewers, one day… ONE DAY… we will outdo you genetically. Just wait and see.

  16. Patrick Kearns · March 5, 2013

    Imaginary Throat punch for loud chewers, cilantro works with scrambled eggs,( for moi), Piquet.

  17. John Kyriakos · March 5, 2013

    Sara you’ve never ceased to amaze me. Glad to know I dont chew out loud, otherwise dinner with you would have been lethal 🙂

  18. Bob Farah · March 5, 2013

    am exactly the same 🙂

  19. Fouad Elias Nassif · March 5, 2013

    Surtout au telephone 🙂

  20. Mark Abi Nader · March 5, 2013

    Hum… Misophonia! Chomp, chomp! 🙂

  21. Ermina Sokou · March 6, 2013

    Great, Sara, I have to share 🙂

  22. Niki Papadaki · March 6, 2013

    Seriously Ermina! I believe it 100%.. I remember we were discussing about it in Bangkok. Mai sai patsiiiii! It’s the only phrase that I know in multiple languages/dialects…

  23. Niki Papadaki · March 6, 2013

    Btw ελπίζω όλα καλά! Ο μικρός είναι κούκλος! Φιλία από Λονδινο

  24. Leila Zahabi Hamade · March 7, 2013

    I hate it

  25. Abdallah Shuman · March 7, 2013

    I hit ppl for a lot less :p I get the same reaction but toward other irritating things like a dry tissue rubbed against dry hands #^\£<# gotta go!!!!

  26. Carine Khoury Torres · March 7, 2013

    Lol @ the ‘I hate cilantro’ part, that’s so me! And being married to a Colombian (Latinos love that shit) makes for very careful eating at family gatherings ;).

  27. Brandy Williams · March 7, 2013

    …i really can’t believe i am not the only one with such an intense dislike for the sound of eating…chewing, even with the mouth closed the echoing of crunchy food will drive me insane…..

  28. Mohammad Farhat · March 7, 2013

    seriously it is pretty nice to hear of such scientific studies! but it is also noteworthy to consider psychological aspects about this. Not sure what “trauma” might have caused a nuisance of the chewing sound (not to mention that i am heavily disturbed by such sounds, but i do try to accept this politely – sometimes i just cannot bear it though), and i think that if the person has his mouth closed properly while eating, and still makes a sound, i try not to nag, he is doing his best!
    On another aspect, several other items related (at least i think are related), such as murmuring sound, or sound of speaking at low voice while moving some “saliva” .. yukkk! .. that is another nuisance. It’s very interesting to see if all such aspects have genetic basis, psychological ones, i mean being upset is not the loveliest thing ever .. and until a solution, i guess we are bound to be patient.. and ain’t that a virtue 🙂

  29. Antoine Yazbek · March 7, 2013

    The sound of it?!?! Wait until you really focus on the looks of it!!! The combination is baaaaddd!!

  30. Diana Antaki · March 9, 2013

    I too hate the sound of someone chewing next to me. I become the Incredible Hulk and feel I’m going to KILL

  31. Karim T. Balhawan · March 10, 2013

    I thought I was psychologically disturbed! Turns out I’m not the only one, what a relief!

  32. Judith T. Krauthamer · July 28, 2013

    I am writing to let you know about a new review of “misophonia.”.

    The book provides compelling evidence that it is a developmental, neurological disorder, with similarities to Tourette. In fact, a small number of people with Tourette have the symptoms of “misophonia,” and the insular cortex and anterior cingulate cortex are implicated in both disorders.

    The book offers the theory that a fundamental change in the brain results in an auditory stimulus being assessed as “danger!” and more importantly, as affective “pain!” The primer explores the neurobiology of pain assessment in the brain and demonstrates how the brain can experience the affect or unpleasantness of pain without any actual physical sensation.

    Sound-Rage. A Primer of the Neurobiology and Psychology of a Little Known Anger Disorder (Chalcedony Press, 210 pgs). Available from amazon.com and amazon.com.uk.

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