In this radio editorial, I take a look at all the “love foods”!
In this opinion piece, I look at the foods that say ‘love.’
For thousands of years, many plant foods have been eaten for their “aphrodisiac qualities,” inspired by their sensory characteristics or even by their internal effects.
Some of the effects are strictly visual. The color red, for instance, has always been associated with passion and can be found on Valentine’s Day menus in the form of beets, cherries, and cranberries. The sensual pomegranate has long symbolized fertility, and the asparagus has been enjoyed as an aphrodisiac because of its (ahem!) shape.
Some aphrodisiacs are considered such because of their texture. Agave nectar, derived from a cactus-like plant, oozes a thick sweet syrup. The romantic effect of champagne has more to do with the bubbles than with the alcohol. And apricots, mangoes, peaches, and tomatoes – also known as “love-apples” – are on the list of sensual foods primarily for their built-in succulence.
Many foods cause real physical changes in the body, both positive and negative, making them either ideal for a romantic meal or destined to douse the fire. Choosing foods that keep the blood flowing to all of our organs is optimum, and plant foods do this in spades – some more than others, such as hot peppers and garlic. Meat and animal products, on the other hand, constrict the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow and thus potentially decreasing the libido.
Turning up the heat – both in terms of temperature and spiciness – can have a powerful effect. My favorite romantic after-dinner elixir is Mexican Hot Chocolate, which entails adding chili powder to hot cocoa or melting chili-laced chocolate bars in almond milk.
The idea is to excite – not overload or dull – the senses. Overeating and excessive alcohol may leave you lethargic rather than libidinous, and even the most sensuous food or beverage can backfire in excess. To paraphrase Shakespeare: It may provoke and unprovoke; it may provoke the desire, but take away the performance.