Gourmet Girl: Food for Love

Gourmet Girl - February 10, 2015

From chocolate and chile to oysters, honey and more, the Ingredients for a very romantic Valentine's Dinner

Food has long played a role in love, dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who coveted honey, grapes, basil, rosemary and saffron for their potent sexual powers. Medieval Europeans prized pinon nuts for their ability to increase potency, and the Aztecs adored the avocado for its rich flavor and its aphrodisiac qualities.

Today, we have Viagra.

No...just kidding, but we do have an array of foods that have been proven to enhance our sensuality in many ways, from the zinc in oysters that improves potencym, to the stimulants in chocolate that can literally put you in a stupor and stimulate six kinds of sex hormones. Who needs Viagra?

So here, in honor of Valentine's Day, is a list of just a few aphrodisiacs to whet your appetite for love. There are many more you can easily find with a little online research. Many of these foods will be perfect ingredients in a Valentine's dinner to make and share with your sweetheart.  But don't just limit yourself to one day a year. Enjoy these foods all year long to bring more love into your life!

A fertility symbol for centuries, the almond has an aroma that is thought to bring on passion in women. A Greek myth tells the story of the lovely princess Phyllis who died of a broken heart after her beloved left her waiting at the altar on their wedding day. Taking pity on her, the gods transformed her into an almond tree and when her love returned to find her, he embraced the tree, which burst into bloom as a demonstration of love's enduring power.

The vitamin E in these creamy fruits helps you produce potent sexual hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Montezuma shared avocados with Cortez and his fellow conquistadors, and told them that the Aztecs called the avocado ahuácatl (testicle) because of the way the fruit hung in pairs from the tree. They forbid young maidens from going outside during the avocado harvest.

Surprise, surprise...one of the world's favorite foods contains the chemical phenylethylamine, the same hormone that's released when you're having sex. Eating chocolate also produces tryptophane, which helps produce serotonin, leading to sexual arousal and elevated mood.  So no wonder it's one of the world's great  aphrodisiacs, second only to champagne. The Aztec ruler Montezuma is said to have consumed 50 cups of a chocolate elixir a day to prepare him for visits to his harem. The 18th-century Italian lover Casanova mentions in his memoirs that he drank chocolate copiously to help fuel his sexual adventures.

Chile Peppers
Chile peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical that increases your heart rate, causes you to sweat, and stimulates nerve endings so you'll feel more turned on. They've been used an aphrodisiac for centuries by many cultures, and Montezuma added chile to his daily chocolate elixir to boost his sexual prowess.

Honey might just be the ultimate aphrodisiac. It's made through pollination and is a symbol of procreation.  It also contains boron, a chemical that provides a natural energy boost.  The ancient Egyptians believed that honey could cure sterility and impotency, and in medieval times, mead was used as a seduction aid. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates prescribed honey for sexual vigor. The word “honeymoon” came from mead, an alcoholic beverage made from honey and  consumed on a honeymoon to sweeten the marriage.

One of the world's best-known aphrodisiacs, oysters contain a rare amino acid that stimulates six kind of sexual hormones. They're also loaded with zinc, offering more per serving than any other food, which can aid with impotency. The simple act of eating them is sensual, fresh out of the shell, releasing  the flavors of the sea, salty and silky. The Romans ate oysters as aphrodisiacs in the second century A.D., described by Juvenal in his satire depicting how wanton the women became after consuming giant oysters and wine. The 18th-century lover Casanova ate 50 oysters a day, and that was just for breakfast. 

The pomegranate contains powerful antioxidants that allow better blood circulation, increasing physical sensitivity. The fruit has long been a associated with fertility and abundance, because of its many seeds.  According to Greek mythology, the first pomegranate was planted by Aphrodite, the goddess of love (whose name is the source of the word “aphrodisiac” ). The fruit appeared as a romantic symbol in sonnets and literature for centuries.

The scent of vanilla can be intoxicating, but it's also thought to increase lust. According to Old Totonac lore,  Xana— daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess—loved a Totonac youth. Because of her divine nature, she could not marry him so she transformed herself into the vanilla plant to provide pleasure and joy. Physicians in the 18th century prescribed vanilla to for potency. Today, it's an ingredient in many perfumes, scented candles and body lotions.