Aphrodisiacs on Valentine’s

We all know the indulgence and deliciousness of chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but isn’t that getting a little cliché?

And what if you’re trying to lose weight and fit back into that slinky black dress again, only to have your honey sabotage your efforts with a box of chocolates?

Why not try what people have been doing for thousands of years, and look to exotic foods to enhance the mood? At the very least, it should be amusing. Aphrodisiacs, named after the Greek goddess of love and sexuality, are substances thought to increase sexual desire. Throughout time, various fruits, vegetables and herbs (and of course, alcohol, but that’s kind of obvious and unoriginal) were thought to increase both men’s and women’s sex drives. Here’s a short list you can try, though with dubious scientific evidence that they may work. At least you and your partner will have fun trying them out—and don’t we all find a sense of humor and adventure sexy?

Oysters are a commonly known aphrodisiac, but if you can’t handle the smell as you’re slurping, and the texture makes you gag, skip this one, or just cover it with a lot of hot sauce. Another popular aphrodisiac food are nuts (Literally, please. Not a euphemism for male parts) including walnuts and pine nuts, both used by the ancient Romans to increase sexual drive. The scent of almonds is also supposed to be erotic and therefore appears in soaps and lotions and other love tonics. Many nuts are also high in zinc (as are oysters) which can help with zinc-deficient male impotency. So think nuts not Viagra. Gingko nuts are used in China as a stimulant, not just for waking up the mind, but waking up other parts as well. Gingko is also a powerful anti-oxidant, cleansing a sluggish bloodstream, which always helps, too. The oh-so-sexy vegetable celery (what?!) contains androsterone, a hormone men produce and apparently causes sexual arousal in women, but science says that the correlation doesn’t exactly transfer as a true aphrodisiac. So much for slathering some celery with almond butter and hopping into bed with your hubby, though it is safe to feed to the children.

A number of fruits and vegetables seem to fit any number of different cultures’ requirements for sexy, mostly due to their resemblance to certain anatomical parts, ahem. Eggs (duh), bananas, (double duh), avocados, carrots, asparagus (if you can stand the smell—not so sexy) figs, fennel and garlic have all been revered throughout time as being the right foods to feed your honey if you want a little action after dinner.

Science doesn’t support much of this mythology and I’ve found it to be proven fact that the most erotic evening is one in which someone has cleaned my house, made my dinner (with or without any of the above food), miraculously made my sexy black pants fit over my baby bump (and baby rump) and made my preschooler fall into a deep sleep, while keeping me strangely energetic at the end of a long day.

But if you want to play the aphrodisiac food game, I suggest the following:
Oysters on the half shell—just a few as an appetizer. It seems to be a guy-thing, anyway.
Heart-healthy salmon with a mustard and fennel sauce and rice or potatoes (lay off the big slathering heaps of butter, though. It’ll just clog your arteries and make you feel sluggish.)

All those bright, delicious and exotic (especially this time of year) fruits—raspberries, strawberries, pineapple and mango—feed to each other by hand. It’ll leave you a little sticky, but aphrodisiacs are really most effective because of their power of suggestion. If you want something more locally grown and seasonal, go for a bright, sexy persimmon or a luscious pomegranate– thought to be the fruit Eve originally used to tempt Adam in the Garden of Eden.

If you’re into Champagne (and not pregnant like yours truly) then pour a glass of bubbly and drop a vanilla bean in it for added oomph and potency. Vanilla is thought to induce lust (and who doesn’t need a little lust in their marriage?) and represents the Mexican goddess of fertility, Xanat. Though be careful with the fertility aspect— early pregnancy can be a buzz-kill for anyone’s sex drive.

Prepare your appetite and sense of adventure and have a little fun with aphrodisiacs. And just for good measure, send the kids off to Grandma and Grandpa’s for the night.

‘Birth of Venus’ by Botticelli
Oysters on Ice by Tina Phillips
Strawberries by digitalart

Comments

Stories