This month, Dalip and the team are thinking you might want to create a (passionate) storm in the kitchen with Valentine’s Day in mind.
Of course, many of the ingredients we use everyday in our kitchen are in fact, aphrodisiacs.
And, there are, in fact, many foods and drinks that are believed to enhance sexual desire.
They’ve been associated with each other for centuries, be it Marc Anthony feeding grapes to Cleopatra or Shakespeare suggesting that potatoes have aphrodisiac properties in The Merry Wives of Windsor!
All the foods below are believed to have some sort of power as an aphrodisiac even though their effectiveness is more likely down to the power of suggestion – but there’s no harm in trying, is there!
Asparagus has been believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac ever since the seventeenth-century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper prescribed it “to be taken to stir up bodily lust.” Ooer! Nineteenth-century bride-grooms were reportedly force-fed the stuff to ensure they were able to perform on their wedding night and, like many other aphrodisiacs, the vegetable’s phallic shape is believed to be partly responsible for its reputation.
Another appropriately shaped aphrodisiac, bananas contain the enzyme Bromelain, which is believed to improve a man’s performance in the sack. Bananas are connected to the original lovers, Adam and Eve, who, apparently, used banana leaves rather than fig leaves to cover their private parts. Bananas are also rich in potassium and vitamin B, which are thought to help with the manufacture of sex hormones.
Apart from its ability to make people say “yes”, it’s coffee’s stamina-enhancing properties, due to high levels of caffeine and other alkaloids, that give it a reputation for adding longevity to sex sessions. It’ll certainly keep you awake, but be careful, too much caffeine will make you nervous, which will only ruin the mood.
When opened, figs apparently resemble female genitalia, and it is therefore considered erotic by some people for a man to break open a fig and eat it in front of his female partner. Hmm. Originally from Syria, figs were prized by Ancient Greeks as a sacred food associated with fertility, and the arrival of a new fig crop is said to have been followed by ritual lovemaking. That brazen hussy of the ancient world, Cleopatra, is also believed to have a been a fig fanatic, which is good enough for me.
Strawberries were cultivated by the Romans as early as 200 BC, and were being used as an aphrodisiac as long ago as the thirteenth-century. A soup made from strawberries and soured cream was traditionally served-up to newly-weds in medieval times. We prefer to just put them on our sweet treats! The strawberry is also reportedly a symbol for Venus, the goddess of love, presumably because of its heart shape and red colour.
Known as ‘pommes d’amour’ or ‘love apples’ by the French during the Renaissance because of their firm and juicy texture, tomatoes have also long been considered an aphrodisiac and were therefore shunned by puritans. They were also previously thought to be poisonous, but in fact their succulent appearance is down to the presence of the antioxidant lycopene.
The powerful odour may put some people off the idea of using garlic as an aphrodisiac, but if both parties have eaten it then the smell is usually cancelled out. Philosopher Pliny, who mixed garlic and wine, wrote that it was a powerful sexual stimulant, while Romans believed that garlic made “women fall in love and men powerful.” It is thought that garlic improves circulation, while some people claim that garlic promotes the production of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase, which plays a part in the erection mechanism.
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