I’m a hedonist, meaning, I love sensual pleasures. Today, I thought we’d combine two of my favorite things, sex and food, basic elements without which no species thrives or survives, and talk aphrodisiacs. Just because they make the thriving and surviving that much more tantalizing and savory. Fun. I promise you’ll never look at French bread the same…
I submit to you that having sex and eating are closely related. They are! Physical acts that engage the senses, activities you’re meant to enjoy and can lead to a whole lot of sensual pleasure. Whether you’re eating or being eaten, you’re steeped in sensation. You taste and touch, you smell and watch. Sometimes it’s disappointing no matter how hard you try. Sometimes you don’t have much time and end up improvising, hurriedly. Some meals, or partners, you’ll never ever forget. Some you wish you would have had the sense to pass since you knew they’d be no good. And have you heard the saying, “If you want to know the way a person is in bed, watch them eat?” I’ll let you think about that while I rummage the kitchen pantry and history books a bit…
…only to find that all those innocent looking foods and drinks you have in your kitchen and indulge in while eating out are steeped in eroticism. Oh yes. In days of yore, Europeans linked exotic with erotic. If it was brought in from the New World or via the eastern spice routes, if it was rare, expensive and hard to come by, it was an aphrodisiac. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Celts all boasted substances meant to fuel desire. If it resembled the vulva, penis or testicles in shape: aphrodisiac. If it had any mythological or mystical associations: aphrodisiac. If it was associated with sex, if it was part of a fertility cult or ritual: aphrodisiac.
Most of those cults and rituals were wiped out by Christianity and soon forgotten. Many of the erotic associations were not. Take weddings. Rice symbolizes fertility. And throwing it? Male ejaculation, of course. You’re being sprinkled with a substitute for semen. The term honeymoon comes from the Anglo-Saxon tradition of newly-weds drinking something called honey wine for a month after marrying.
And I’m getting thirsty. How about a drink? I recommend an alcoholic beverage, but I also recommend quality over quantity. Small amounts stimulate but large ones only sedate and you don’t want to kill all that brewing passion, you want to stoke it up! “One cup for health, two cups for love, and three for sleep.” Bubblies stimulate the palate (and carbon dioxide makes sure the effects travel fast!), but good champagne doesn’t come cheap. And sometimes you’re just paying for the brand, not quality bubbles.
I recently visited Spain and had some delicious cavas. I highly recommend giving them a try if you don’t object to tipple. The method of production is as traditional as that of champagne, but the drink is less expensive and just as fine. Best of all, bubblies are versatile. They go with just about everything, so you can drink them from starters to dessert. In moderation.
Now wines on the other hand…there’s one for every food, mood, occasion and taste. This much I know: price doesn’t correlate with quality, New World wines have the best quality-price ratio, and if you want to have red wine with your fish and white wine with your meat, knock yourself out (I have some suggestions if you need ’em, as I’m sure do the sommeliers in any decent restaurant). But when the pairing is just right, it is a delight, a feast for your eyes, nose, tongue…and soon enough, all of you. Both of you. Or how many partners you happen to be juggling.
There comes the waiter with the bread. Innocent-looking, everyday bread. Smutty to its doughy core, 69ers! I did some digging and what did I discover? Baguettes are a direct descendant of penis-shaped loaves pre-Christians baked and ate as part of phallus worship. (In ancient Syracuse, they preferred vulva-shaped bakings.)
Ready to order? All those herbs in you entrée salad, (I feel some Simon and Garfunkel coming my way), “…parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…,” to say nothing of basil, tomatoes, and spinach, they’re all meant to rev you up.
Now. Greens, meat or seafood for the main course? Regardless of era or culture, seafood seems to be the aphrodisiac. Many love and fertility goddesses were sea-born. Seafood is nutritious. It is a sensual food. The taste, texture and aroma surpass most meats. Some require manual effort so you get to touch it, really feel it. The shapes and coloring can be suggestive. Some are exotic and expensive, so they certainly fit the bill. Bouillabaisse, anyone? Venus seduced Vulcan with it, so it’s powerful stuff!
Not a fan of seafood? Try game, or heavily spiced veggies. Make sure garlic or at the very least onions feature prominently along with peppers, the sweet and/0r the hot. A steak au poivre (pepper steak), perhaps? Or a vegetarian paella?
And for dessert? Yes, there’s always chocolate, once thought so decadent a delicacy, 17th century French monks couldn’t have any. Chocolate was all the rage in the court of the Sun King. If he offered and a lady accepted, sex was on the menu, as well. You shouldn’t overlook nuts, fruits and vanilla, though. A classic that takes care of all of the above: the Mont Blanc. You can make a fruity one, you can add or leave out the vanilla.
Food is history. Food is culture. And food is fuel. Not every meal can be a culinary carnival. But when no meal is, that is just too bad. And kinda sad. It’s not as if we’re lacking in inspiration. Seventy-five cooking shows on every channel. As many diet and fitness fads in every magazine and gym. A lot of mixed messages flying around. Eat more! Eat better!! Enjoy!!! Eat less! Eat healthy!! Exercise!!!
This holiday season, if there’s one thing I wish, it’s more time and less guilt for all of us. Time to cook, sit down and enjoy, free of guilt. Love comes from leisure but I guess it’s up to us to take that time, make a conscious effort, decide to stop fussing and start enjoying. May Aphrodite be with you! It’s a sensual world if you want it to be.
Sexcellent weekend, everyone, and a fuss-free, fun!, holiday season. If you’re already dreading it, feel free to vent in comments.
(Photos purchased/free stock images from 123RF.com)