Yummy Treats for the Month of Love
By Deb Kemps
Most every culture since ancient times has used some type of edible aphrodisiacs. The range is amazing and interesting: everything from chocolate, fruits and vegetables to oysters and spices. With February being the month of “love,” and Valentine’s Day upon us, we’ll focus on yummy treats like chocolate, throughout history the most favored food item as a symbolic aphrodisiac, and a few of my other favorite snacks.
Food of the Gods
Over the years much research has gone into the benefits of chocolate and the compounds that make up this “Food of the Gods.” Scientists have said there are two key components that provide that “loving feeling:” phenethylamine and tryptophan. Working together, they can elevate mood and they release the same stimulants into the brain as when we fall in love. It is said that darker chocolate is favored because it can cause a spike in dopamine, which induces even more feelings of pleasure.
Strawberries are at the heart of a very creative myth. It is said that the goddess Aphrodite cried heart-shaped tears upon the death of her lover, Adonis. In many works of art, the strawberry is portrayed as a symbol of sensuality, with loving couples diving in and feeding each other the fruit. Strawberries are very high in Vitamin C and juicy to keep you hydrated. The sugar in strawberries provides a natural energy boost.
It’s Always the Oysters
Oysters gained their reputation with the Greeks because Aphrodite was said to be born from the sea; rising out of the ocean on an oyster shell, half naked, eating a strawberry I’m sure. The ever-attractive oyster is gaining popularity and the reputation as a libido food very high in zinc and amino acids. Scientists quickly squashed the theory that the shellfish was an aphrodisiac, but recently they have discovered that by harvesting oysters in the spring when the rare amino acids they contain are at the highest levels, oysters and other shell fish could indeed increase sex hormones. Hmmm…
Ancient Egyptians, sitting right on the crossroads of the ancient spice roads, ate very well, having access to prized aphrodisiacs like coriander and cumin, both reflecting eternal love and faithfulness. I dare not say that aphrodisiacs are a viable thing when it comes to food and romance — it appears there are mixed reviews — but I will say that enjoying Oysters Rockefeller, fresh made Dukkah with some crusty bread and good olive oil never made me sad, and I never would complain about being fed a chocolate covered strawberry.