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Amuse-Bouche: Aphrodisiacs + Valentine’s Day

If you’re planning to cook a romantic meal for your Valentine on Tuesday and still need ideas (or just want to ogle some gorgeous food porn), the New York Times Dining & Wine section has a great slideshow of dishes that feature ingredients commonly believed to have aphrodisiac properties (with links to the recipes). Even better, the slides go into the origin and science behind these associations.

Aphrodisiacs are foods and substances that are believed to heighten sexual desire. Some foods are considered aphrodisiacs because of certain chemical properties and their effects on the body, while other foods gained aphrodisiac status due to their appearance or the manner in which they are eaten. The ingredients featured in the slideshow include:

  • Figs, because they apparently look like lady-bits, and also are a source of iron and potassium, “which can promote physical and sexual well-being” (hmm, citation needed).
  • Oysters, “considered sensual by virtue of how they are eaten.”  They also contain zinc, which is linked to increased sperm production, although you’d have to consume a whole lot of oysters for it to affect a healthy sperm producer’s output.
  • Chocolate, which is considered romantic because of the way it melts in the mouth and “contains some psychoactive chemicals like phenylethylamine, which produce feelings of euphoria,” although again, you’d have to eat quite a lot before it made a noticeable difference in your mood.

However, before you go stuffing yourself and your sweetheart with chocolate–or any other food, for that matter–I would recommend that you heed the advice of renowned sex advice columnist Dan Savage and, um, enjoy any sexy business before you eat. No matter what you’re eating, you’re not going to feel like making love after a big meal.

I’ll add some of my own advice: rather than going for something elaborate, keep it simple. Nothing will ruin the mood like a bout of kitchen stress due to trying to manage too many moving parts, utter disappointment when that fancy new dish doesn’t turn out the way you expected it to, or a kitchen cluttered with dirty dishes. And really, no one says you have to cook… As much as I love cooking for my husband, I will admit that Valentine’s Day is one night when I’m happy to let someone else do the cooking.

If you’re set on staying in for Valentine’s dinner, the NYTimes’ suggestion for grilled figs with goat cheese is a really elegant option. Or even just consider stopping by a  nice cheese shop and asking them to help you pick out a fun selection, some accompaniments, and a wine you’ll both enjoy. Take the cheese out of the refrigerator before you retire to the boudoir (if you’re following Dan Savage’s advice), and it will be the perfect serving temperature by the time you’re ready to eat.

In-post photos by Anne Sauer. Featured image from gourmetsleuth.com

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Anne S

Anne S

Anne Sauer is an atheist with an appetite for science, good food, and making connections between the two. She is currently pursuing her MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. Her favorite foods are salted caramel ice cream and chicken tikka masala. You can find her on twitter @aynsavoy.

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