A Feast Of Love Love At First Bite? Foods With A Rep For Sex Appeal

Posted: February 14, 2001

Read this list slowly:

Oysters

Chocolate

Honey

Strawberries

Asparagus

Artichokes.

Bananas.

Now what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Sex, right?

Of course. Because all of the above have hot, hot, hot reputations as aphrodisiacs.

These are (so it's said) the foods of love, the taste of romance, a veritable blue plate special of sexual arousal.

"The only one for which there is any scientific evidence is chocolate," says Jim Coleman, executive chef at the Rittenhouse Hotel. "It contains a chemical with a long, unpronounceable name - phenylethylamine - that triggers a high."

Some say the feeling is akin to that of falling in love.

"But as for the rest," says Coleman, "it's all psychological. Why are champagne and caviar considered romantic? My guess is the price tag. The sacrifice of dollars proves you care.

"The artichoke makes the list because there is a romantic legend about how the Greek god Zeus created it. Zeus, so the story goes, fell in love with a mortal and brought her to Olympus to live with him. But she got homesick and returned to Earth. Zeus was determined to make it difficult for anyone else to reach her heart, so he turned her into an artichoke. You have to peel a lot of leaves to get to an artichoke's heart.

"Because it all comes down to psychology, whatever you think is an aphrodisiac will be one for you," he said.

Aphrodisiacs derive their name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty. Many ancient peoples believed in the "Law of Similarity" - that any plant or animal part that resembled human genitalia could impart sexual powers. Ginseng (also known as "man root"), powdered rhinoceros horn and oysters are classic examples.

No less a source than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that, in the days when these products gained their erotic reputations, most diets were lacking calcium, phosphorus and zinc. Thus the supply of the first two contained in rhinoceros horn plus the zinc in oysters probably improved overall vigor, which may well have improved sexual performance.

The ancient Greeks believed onions, carrots, truffles and sturgeon were aids to love. The Romans swore by livers of pike, peacock brains and flamingo tongues (much harder to get at the local supermarket). Every culture in the world has its own favorites.

Should you be thinking on this Valentine's Day of a romantic dinner a deux, check out our run-down - gleaned from various authorities - on some of the foods that many believe can stir the soul, quicken the libido, and encourage two hearts to beat as one.

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