Q: With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’m plotting to prepare a meal for my foodie man-friend filled with libido-raising foods. I’m well aware of the standard, clichéd edible aphrodisiacs like oysters — and those are put of the question since my man gags even when seeing them at a restaurant. Aside from shellfish, do you have any suggestions for lusty munchies that I could incorporate into a meal? Should I even bother?
— Corrine, Hilo, Hawaii
Honestly, my suggestion is this: Don’t bother unless you think he’d be into it. Just have yourself a normal, quiet meal at home — heck, save yourself all the effort and make a reservation at White Castle — and afterwards, grab a can of whipped cream (or make it yourself using natural ingredients) and head to the boudoir. And unless your favorite movie is "9 1/2 Weeks," there’s no reason to break out the skim milk and Jell-O mold.
The reason I suggest getting straight to the point with a bit of food-centric friskiness is that ingesting things considered natural aphrodisiacs are a crapshoot — it’s mostly about the placebo effect — and I can’t imagine anything more tedious than impatiently waiting around for the amorous aftereffects to kick in after a meal of chocolate fondue and garlic bread. In this case, I’m guessing indigestion will strike before any kind of urge to get it on does. So save yourself a bit of time, money and don’t go out of your way to prepare an entire meal revolving around ingredients that are believed to make lovebirds extra randy.
Dead set on going through with this even though there’s no real evidence — at least from a Western medical science standpoint — that certain foods lead to passionate lovemaking? Okay, well keep these pointers in mind: Certain foods are thought to have libido-boosting qualities for a couple of reasons. Some foods resemble genitals, and that makes some folks frisky. (Foods eaten in some cultures even are genitals.) And then there are foods that contain vitamins and minerals — zinc, B-vitamins, and the amino acid L-arginine being three biggies — long associated with an enhanced sex drive. Sure, these foods can increase energy and testosterone levels, put you in a better mood, and get blood flowing to all the right places. But will they make you want to instantly jump in the sack? Not quite.
Take for example the humble and healthy avocado. The word itself is derived from the Aztec word ahuacati, which translates to “testicle.” Aztecs dubbed this testicle-shaped delight as the “fertility fruit,” so it had quite the sexy reputation long before we started putting it on sandwiches and making guacamole. (And yes, guacamole could loosely be translated to “testicle sauce.”) In addition to its shape, the avocado earned its reputation as an aphrodisiac because it happens to be rich in vitamin E (aka the “sex vitamin”), testosterone-regulating vitamin B6 and it contains more potassium than another suggestively shaped fruit, the banana.
So, Corrine, you could serve up “testicle sauce” with a side of chips to your man this Valentine’s Day. But what else? As mentioned earlier, chocolate, oysters and garlic are three other supposed aphrodisiacs along with asparagus, almonds, fennel, carrots, eggs and figs. For a complete list, check out Eat Something Sexy, a site dedicated to grope- and groan-inducing gastronomy and where the Food and Drug Administration takes a backseat to “ancient wisdom.”
In the end, I wouldn’t put yourself in the role of Ina Garten meets Cleopatra. It’s fun, sure, but as I said before, why rely on foodie folklore to get your pulse racing? For that “normal” dinner recommended earlier, just head to your local farmers market and pick up a bunch of fresh, local produce that will help keep your whole body, heart and mind (and local economy) healthy. There’s nothing sexier than that. Happy Valentine’s Day!