Aphrodisiacs, named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sex and beauty, are a part of a 5,000-year folklore tradition of using an array of herbs, foods and other “agents” that are said to awaken and heighten sexual desire. Here’s a selection of some favorite items that will stir up a few other parts of your anatomy and where you can find the world’s best aphrodisiacs.
One of the most notorious aphrodisiac, oysters are high in zinc and have a reputation for being great for love and fertility. They are probably the food most associated with being an aphrodisiac, and most people are aware of their reputation for increasing sexual desire and in addition to the powerful persuasion of its mere being, oysters have some scientifically proven potency. Researchers recently found that oysters contain amino acids that trigger production of sex hormones. Fulfill your oyster obsession by heading to Prince Edward Island off the east coast of Canada during the summer months of July and August. There, you and your beloved can make things official by taking an “oyster oath” and being inaugurated into the Prince Edward Island Oyster Society (www.peioystersociety.ca). Afterward, feast on the island’s famed Malpeque Bay oysters, which were crowned the world’s most delectable at the 1900 Paris Exhibition and have kept their reign since.
Used by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the fig paradoxically symbolizes both sexuality (the ripe fruit with seeds representing fertility) and modesty (the fig leaf). They are full of potassium and are an antioxidant powerhouse. This sexy fruit has long been thought of as an arousing stimulant, and are steeped in history as one of the oldest-recorded fruits. They are mentioned in the Bible (Adam and Eve wore fig leaves to cover their private parts) and the ancient Greeks held them as sacred and associated them with love and fertility. This soft, plump fruit is a fine source of iron and potassium-minerals much needed in the horizontal pas de deux. Staten Island’s Fig Fest attracts a collection of groupies, those of the gardening kind. The fete, an annual ode to the ancient fruit, is a casual affair set each year in September, rain or shine. California figs are available from June through September; some European varieties are available through autumn.
For over 50 years, devotees of the green fruit have met up in April at the Fallbrook Avocado Festival in San Diego. While you’re there, you can eat guacamole to your heart’s content, sample the avocado fudge and buy avocado-shaped souvenirs. It could be the sensuous pear shape, or the rich flavor of the fruit that gave avocado its aphrodisiac reputation as far back as the Aztecs. And while the jury is still out on just how lust-full avocados are, it is believed that the fruit’s high levels of vitamin E could help keep the spark alive because of its role in maintaining “youthful vigor and energy level” all year long.
For the very adventurous type… it’s sometimes referred to as a ‘sea rat’ or ‘sea slug’ but don’t let the sea cucumber’s unflattering nicknames stand in the way of you tasting one of China’s top aphrodisiacs. This slimy, spineless creature is often used in stews and soups, where chunks of its rather flavorless flesh are brightened up with herbs and spices. For the 19th century’s most renowned sea-cucumber dish go to DeXing Guan Restaurant in Shanghai during the month of May for their sea cucumber with shrimp roe sauce.
Basil not only makes a meal smell and taste better, it also has a lot of beneficial effects on human body. Basil has a fantastic aroma that is said to have an aphrodisiac effect; it is also very stimulating. In Roman times, basil was a symbol of love and the leaves contain a variety of libido-lifting nutrients. Sweet basil, the Genovese basil is a unique variety of the Italian basil herb and has earned a special place in the heart of all Italian cuisine lovers. Ask any Italian where the best basil is grown and they will tell you that it comes from the area of Pra, grown across a few acres on the hills to the west of Genoa. As with many culinary icons in Italy, the Genovese Basil has also its own festival – Sagra del Pesto – a yearly affair held in Pra featuring a religious procession, pasta feast, and sauce-making contest.
Besides relaxing you faster than a neck rub can, red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation to enhance intimacy. If you are an oenophile or connoisseur of wine, then you need to visit Médoc in southwest France to sample the snifters on offer at the stunning Château Mouton Rothschild wine estate. The best time of the year to go is during the month of May. Make sure to book one of the cellar tours at this highly prized Bordeaux wine-maker. If you have time, check out the Rothschild’s art collection in the adjoining museum. Also, the beautiful wine country of La Rioja, Spain is a fascination and historic region for delightful red wine. The real improvements to Rioja’s viticulture began around 1780 when the need to prolong wine during transport brought about experimentation with different woods and preservatives. Today, Rioja is divided into three regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja. Rioja Alta is composed primarily of alluvial soil, calcareous clay and ferruginous clay. A wine tour of La Rioja will certainly spark the flame.
Whether served with a dollop of cream, a sprinkling of sugar, or left as nature intended, a British strawberry in high summer is a must for any foodie. Start your odyssey in Surrey, England in June to early August amassing mountainous punnets at the Crockford Bridge Farm (www.crockfordbridgefarm.co.uk). Haven’t had your fill? Make a stop at the farm’s ice cream parlor for a homemade strawberry sundae. You can top off your trip with that most quintessential of strawberry-eating outings at Wimbledon to munch the moreish fruits while watching the action unfold on the hallowed grass courts of SW17. Make sure to feed them to each other for a healthy, vitamin C-packed dessert that helps keep blood flowing to ALL regions of the body.
TRAVEL THE GLOBE TANTALIZING YOUR TASTE BUDS