As a sequel to Seven deadly dishes — global grub to die for, today’s post turns its attention to foodstuffs that might promote…well, not death, but perhaps a smaller version: the one the French call La Petite Mort.
Food and romance go hand in hand — you only have to think of the restaurant scene in the film Tom Jones — so, in case you’re already planning a special meal with ulterior motives for next Tuesday, I’ve been looking for ingredients to go on your shopping list.
I have to say, after doing the internet research, I have serious doubts about the genuine aphrodisiac properties of most of these suggestions.
But see what you think.
1. Coco de Mer – Seychelles
The picture above is of a nut from the Coco de Mer tree, a palm found in the Seychelles, and for which the ancient botanical term is Lodoicea callipyge. (Callipyge comes from the Greek for “beautiful buttocks.”)
Used in Eastern medicine and as a flavor enhancer in Cantonese cuisine, the fruit is also the basis of a liqueur called Coco D’Amour which is sold in the Seychelles.
After their honeymoon in May, Prince William and Kate Middleton were presented with a Coco de Mer fruit by the Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs. (I would love to have been a fly on the wall at that presentation.)
Budget alternative: Since the Coco’s attraction lies in its suggestive shape, try peaches, nectarines, or butternut squash. Frankly, if you’re determined to see innuendo in the vegetable section of the supermarket, anything will do.
2. Oysters – Louisiana, Galway, Prince Edward Island…
Everyone knows that oysters are supposed to be aphrodisiacs. It’s all to do with the high content of zinc, phosphorous, and iodine.
Put like that, they don’t sound romantic at all.
Budget alternative: Fish fingers, table salt, Pepsi, and a couple of cherry Cold-EEZE zinc tablets for dessert.
3. Lobsters – Maine
Presumably considered aphrodisiacs for the same reason as oysters — zinc, phosphorous, iodine — but honestly, lobsters? It is impossible to eat them without looking like the explosion at the end of Jaws. Plus you’re at the table, swathed in a plastic bib while wielding a pair of large nutcrackers — not the best picture to get a new boyfriend in the mood.
Budget alternative: Poor Man’s Lobster. It’s cod, dripping in butter, so you’ll probably still need the bib — but at least you can ditch the nutcrackers.
4. Strawberries – California
They’re red, they’re heart-shaped, they’re the perfect edible valentine.
And, more to the point, you have to buy whipped cream to go with them.
Budget alternative: Just buy the whipped cream.
5. Truffles – Alba
With white truffles costing $2000 a pound, it’s not these overpriced mushrooms per se that’s the aphrodisiac. If your date is buying you these in a restaurant, the turn-on is the size of his wallet.
Budget alternative: Chocolate truffles. Who wants to eat fungus anyway?
6. Champagne – France
Supposedly an aphrodisiac because its bouquet replicates the smell of female pheromones. However, with the expensive stuff, the Truffle Theory of Attraction (see #5) can be applied.
Budget alternative: Since, according to WebMD, there isn’t any solid proof that human pheromones exist at all, save your money. Buy anything with a Sale sticker on it at the liquor store. Anything above 10% proof will work just fine, as long as you adjust the quantity accordingly, otherwise you might defeat the purpose by falling asleep. This is where #7 comes in.
7. Chocolate – the local grocery store
In its more pure forms – I’m talking 70% cacao or more — half a bar of chocolate is more potent than a gallon of espresso. It will keep you awake for hours. For good measure, one brand actually puts espresso beans in its 72% chocolate as well!
Now there’s a company that understands the delicate connection between chocolate, alcohol, and love.
Budget alternative: There is no budget alternative. Chocolate is known as a substitute for love, but as every woman knows, love is merely a substitute for chocolate.
STAY TUNED for Wednesday’s Random Nomad interview.
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Image: Coco-de-mer seed – Mrs eNil/Flickr