Sexy Food From Around the World: Stoke your Valentine’s Fire with Folklore AphrodisiacsHabeeb Salloum February 1, 2011
Sex and good food go well together – this has been the case throughout history and in most countries in the world. Inextricably combined, they make for never-to-be forgotten sensory experiences; aphrodisiac food can be a special gift a man gives to his wife or a wife gives her husband. Try it on your next date and you won’t regret it.
The word “aphrodisiac” is derived from the name of the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite – goddess of love and sexual joy. Here are some favourite folklore aphrodisiacs that not only set the stage for love but also strengthen reproductive health.
Favourite Folklore Aphrodisiacs
- Honey – still considered a sexy food today, was consumed in ancient Egyptian times as a cure for impotence and sterility. This use of honey as a sex enhancer continued through the ages in numerous countries. Men wishing to seduce the ladies in England during medieval times plied them with mead – a fermented drink made from honey. As well, newlyweds on their honeymoon drank it because it was thought that mead would make their marriage sweet and gentle.
- Cinnamon – has been used in perfume for millennia, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East. Ancient Egyptians anointed themselves with susinum, a heady blend of lilies, cinnamon and myrrh, much as women today spray themselves with Dior’s Poison (cinnamon is a sultry base note). Even the Bible acknowledged its power of attraction: In the Book of Parables, a seductress lured her prey to a bed strewn with cinnamon, and in the Song of Solomon it was one of many spices in a lover’s garden of aromatic plants. (www.globalprovince.com/spicelines)
- Asafoetida – In the ancient cultures of the Indian sub-continent, the asafoetida, a strong garlic-flavoured herb, was used as a sexual stimulant by Ayurvedic medicine doctors.
- Coriander (cilantro) – In Eastern folklore tradition, coriander was used for centuries to increase the sex drive. In Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, there is a story of a trader who had been impotent for 40 years, but was cured by a concoction that included coriander.
- Chickpeas – Many North Africans have for centuries believed that chickpeas increase the energy and sexual desires of both men and women. Shaykh ‘Umar Abu Muhammad, a 16th century North African Arab writer, in his book The Perfumed Garden, suggests chickpeas as a cure for impotence and as a first-rate sexual tonic.
- Nutmeg, a sexual stimulant that was prized by Chinese women as an aphrodisiac centuries ago is still used today. They could have a point, as nutmeg can produce a hallucinogenic feeling. It is said that a sprinkling of the herb on food can help spice up one’s evening of amour.
- Oysters – In North America, oysters are considered one of the top aphrodisiac foods – first mentioned as a libido enhancer by the 2nd century A.D. Roman, Juvenal, in a satire. He described how women became wild after eating giant oysters. Nutritious and high in protein, oysters, especially when eaten raw, have the potential to give one a strong sexual potency. They contain a good amount of zinc, which spurs sperm and testosterone production in men. In addition, oysters also produce the hormone dopamine – believed to increase the libido.
- Bananas – Because bananas contain bromelain enzymes, riboflavin, and potassium, the consumption of one banana a day is excellent to keep one full of energy, and prepared for an evening of love. After dinner, there is nothing more stimulating than dipping bananas into a shared pot of chocolate fondue while looking into each other’s eyes. In the field of sexual literature, the banana has an important place. Due to its erotic appearance, writers have considered it a true love food throughout the ages. This fruit is included in Indian offerings to their fertility gods, and in a dozen languages it is a synonym for the male organ. According to R. Hendrickson in Lewd Food, “I had a banana with Lady Diana” was, from the beginning of the century up until 1930, English slang for intercourse.
- Avocado – The Aztec of Central America believed that the avocado contained sexual stimulating properties. Because it not only reminded them of a testicle, but also aroused one sexually, they called it “ahuacatl,” meaning green testicle. The Spaniards censored the name and phonetically translated the word as abogado (lawyer), from which we get avocado. Creamy and soft, avocados contain a good amount of folic acid, a type of vitamin B that aids in turning protein into energy. They are also filled with potassium, which helps increase the libido of both men and women.
- Chilli Peppers – According to food writer Carl Mathie (ehow.com): “Chilli peppers contain concentrated quantities of the chemical capsaicin which, when consumed, increases heart rate, induces sweating and increases the sensitivity of nerve endings, thus mimicking physical reactions experienced during sexual intercourse. Furthermore, it stimulates the release of endorphins – neurotransmitters that provide a feeling of a natural high, which are also generally released during sexual intercourse. Capsaicin is also a natural irritant to humans. In mild quantities this can actually add to its aphrodisiac qualities as it can produce a tingling, stimulating sensation. The lips and tongue of someone who has recently eaten a chilli pepper will often burn slightly, making their kisses ‘fiery.’
”Besides being rich in potassium and vitamins A and C, chilli peppers contain appreciable amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and a trace of fat and protein. They help in fighting colds, asthma and inflamed sinuses; are helpful for liver disorders and reducing obesity; are useful in the destruction of intestinal worms; and taken in small amounts – aid digestion. The once held belief that everything that burns the mouth is surely bad for ulcers has been scientifically disproved. However, hot peppers should not be eaten in excess when one has inflammation of the stomach or the intestinal tract. Chilli peppers are low in sodium, free of cholesterol and have an anticoagulant effect. Hence, they are helpful in preventing heart attacks and relieving coughs and high blood pressure.
- Asparagus – Some writers claim that can vie with any other food as an extraordinary love stimulator. Containing fibre, potassium, thiamin, and large amounts of vitamin E that promotes a healthy sex life, asparagus also helps prevent impotence. It also contains folic acid, which aids in increasing one’s histamine level, needed for both men and women to reach orgasm. The ancient Egyptians considered asparagus a food fit for the gods, and later the Greeks introduced this delicacy to the Romans, where asparagus became essential to any of their feasts. During the puritan middle ages, its association with aphrodisiac powers might have had something to do with its disappearance from the daily menu. Due to its suggestive phallic shape, asparagus was considered obscene and a dangerous temptation for innocent women. In jokes, poetry, and anecdotes, it was a food synonymous with sexual vigour.
- Figs – In the folklore of the East and Mediterranean, figs have long been associated with sex. Due to their resemblance to the genitalia, they were considered by primitive humans to be a potent love food. To the Hindus, figs are a symbol of both the female and male reproductive organs. The Greeks associated them with phallic worship, serving them at Dionysian orgies, and the Romans employed figs in several love potions. Even today, the Berbers of North Africa think of them as fertility symbols.
D.H. Lawrence, who lingered lasciviously on the metaphorical attributes of ripe figs, wrote that the ripe fig is like a ripe womb, flowering inward. Continuing, he maintained that unlike other blossoms which stand aloft and reach toward heaven, figs are like women, hiding secrets beneath their fig leaves, where everything happens invisibly, including flowering and fertilization.
- Almonds have often been associated with an increase in sexual vigour, and their smell is believed to provoke the desires of women. Some writers suggest that to get a woman in the mood, an almond-scented candle should be lit during dinner.
Other foods with reputed aphrodisiac powers include:
- Celery, stimulates a hormone released through male perspiration that excites women;
- Eggs, creating an aphrodisiac explosion when hard-boiled and spread with a little caviar on crackers;
- Garlic, containing a potent ingredient called allicin, which increases the libido;
- Mangoes, a juicy fruit that is very sensual;
- Strawberries, a fruit that smells divine and is very easy for lovers to feed to one another.
There is no better way to end an evening of seduction than to serve chocolate, an Aztec contribution to humankind. In some cultures chocolate has been called the “elixir of life.” The Incas believed that cocoa was a sexual stimulant and the Aztecs maintained that cocoa made men more virile and attractive to females. Hence, their nobility drank xocolatl from golden goblets before visiting their women.
Madame du Barry (mistress of Louis XV of France) gave chocolate to her lovers, and Casanova is said to have preferred chocolate to champagne. Some writers in the 17th century inveighed against the use of chocolate by monks, claiming that it violently aroused their passions and made them lustful. In the same era, the English physician Henry Stubbs wrote that chocolate arouses passion. During the 19th century, Havelock Ellis, an authority on sex, took the same view, writing that chocolate could increase the carnal appetite.
(Chocolate is able to chemically stimulate the body to produce endorphins – a substance that elates us when we fall in love.)
A chocolatey ending to an evening of sexy food and romance should sweep one’s beloved off his or her feet, as chocolate is an ideal dessert for a prelude to a night of passion. Or try this hot chocolate recipe on a sexy winter afternoon in front of the fireplace.
Chickpea with Pomegranate
(Serves 6 to 8)
- 1 can chickpeas (19 oz), drained
- 1 Tbsp pomegranate concentrate (found in Middle Eastern stores)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
1) Place chickpeas, pomegranate concentrate, garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 2 Tbsp of the oil in a blender, then purée until mixture reaches the consistency of peanut butter, adding a little water if necessary. Spread on a serving platter before decorating with parsley and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle with remaining oil just before serving.
2) Serve this dish to your beloved on wedges of toasted pita bread, or use as a dip with raw vegetables.
Avocado Cocktail Spread
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste found in health stores)
- 1 large or two medium-sized avocados
- 2 Tbsp finely-chopped fresh coriander
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1/2 tsp paprika
1) Place lemon juice and tahini in a blender, then blend for a moment and set aside. Pit and peel the avocados, then cut into pieces. Add with remaining ingredients, except paprika, to lemon juice/tahini mixture before blending into a smooth paste. Place on a flat serving platter, then sprinkle with paprika and serve, or chill and serve.
Fig and Honey Dessert
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 8 fresh figs, peeled
- 2 Tbsp crushed walnuts
- 2 Tbsp honey
- Whipped cream
1) Place 4 Tbsp of cheese on four plates. Slice and arrange two figs around ricotta cheese on each plate. Sprinkle walnuts over cheese and figs, then drizzle with honey and top with whipped cream before serving.
2) Note: Because figs are only in season from late summer to late fall, you can substitute peeled Kiwi fruits in this recipe for a similarly sensual taste sensation.
Aztec Hot Chocolate Recipe
- 1-2/3 cups milk (or almond or rice milk)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split length wise
- 1 red chili pepper, split with seeds removed
- 1 cinnamon stick, around 3-4″
- 1-1/2 oz organic fair trade chocolate, grated
1) Simmer milk in a saucepan with vanilla bean, cinnamon and chilli. Heat through for about a minute. Whisk in grated chocolate, and continue to simmer until melted. Remove from heat and let ‘steep’ for another 10 minutes. Strain out the spices and serve. Serves 2. Recipe from www.chilipeppermadness.com
Habeeb Salloum’s articles have been published in the Toronto Star, Backwoods Home Magazine, Forever Young Information Magazine, and Vegetarian Journal, among others. His most recent book Asian Cooking Made Simple – A Culinary Journey Along the Silk Road and Beyond is available at <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Asian-Cooking-Made-Simple-Culinary/dp/1591521343">amazon</a> at: <a href="https://tinyurl.com/zk3ueyv">https://tinyurl.com/zk3ueyv</a>