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The other day I was blissfully forking an innocent looking piece of asparagus when suddenly S asked me how my love life was doing. And since she was looking rather pointedly at the asparagus I figured there had to be a connect between the two. So I inoffensively asked her why. She replied with a dead pan expression that according to a 17th century herbalist, asparagus ‘stirs up lust in man and woman’. Needless to say this grave piece of news got me thinking for this post.  

 

As always, ecstasy dawned on India before anywhere else in the world. Since forever, foods which contain aphrodisiacal properties have aroused great interest and a keen desire to experiment with amongst Indian and westerners alike. Apart from the better known ones like oysters, chocolates, strawberries and mussels there are a wide range of natural foods like rocket, balut (or a fertilized duck or chicken egg), ginseng and even onions.

 

Aphrodisiacs, so named after the Greek Goddess of Love Aphrodite, have been popular throughout history across different civilizations and cultures. Some aphrodisiac foods gain their reputation due to their shape, for example the rhinoceros horn which is used in Chinese medicine. Some for smell, like strawberries, and some for its ingredients like chocolate.

 

The strawberry has been regarded as an aphrodisiac since as early as 200BC due to the large number of tiny seeds symbolizing fertility. Described as fruit nipples in erotic literature, strawberries are rich in Vitamin C, useful in treating impotence. Romantic lore commonly identifies chocolate as an aphrodisiac too. It is said that the chocolate’s sweet and fatty nature stimulates the hypothalamus, inducing pleasurable sensations as well as affecting the levels of serotonin which lead to heightened sensitivity and euphoria. Strangely, some don’t even have any logical reasoning behind them. For example, an oyster, a seafood, is considered an aphrodisiac simply because Aphrodite was born from the sea.

 

Honey is believed to increase testosterone levels while mustard’s spicy flavour increases the circulation of blood around the body making some parts more sensitive. The pineapple is rich in vitamin C and is reportedly used in the homeopathic treatment for impotence. Apart from these there is garlic, caviar, truffles, cherries, pears, milk, eggplant, cinnamon, basil, carrot, pistachio nuts, sage, nutmeg and even radishes and turnips. I once read somewhere that coffee drinkers are reportedly more sexually active than non-coffee drinkers so add coffee to the list as well.

 

The list is endless though none of the above has been scientifically proven. But since time immemorial lovers have tried them and retried them. So what’s stopping you from spicing up your life with a pinch of cardamom, ginger or saffron?

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