Following last week’s column “Better Sex = Better Health,” I received a few emails showing interest in the aphrodisiac portion.
Instead of regurgitating researched information, I decided to be a guinea pig and test these so-called “love foods” myself.
Plus, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and maybe it’ll be useful to some of you looking for a forkful of foreplay.
First, a little background.
According to Morton Walker, author of “Foods for Better Sex,” an aphrodisiac is a food naturally inclined to trigger passion, heighten response, improve performance or overcome dysfunction.
Certain foods, like oysters, nuts, dates and animal testicles (Kudos to whoever figured that one out) have been historically valued as aphrodisiacs.
The list is now in the hundreds, but I tried to narrow it down to a few that you’re likely to find at the grocery store, or that you’d feel normal ingesting.
My apologies to all those fans of gourmet animal genitalia.
In order to test both sides of the spectrum, I made dinner with my boyfriend (who’s also a much better cook than I am, so it gave me a chance to dump some of the slicing and the dicing responsibility onto him).
We organized a meal plan with aphrodisiac foods from all of the major food groups in the main dishes as well as ingredients in the recipes.
The menu included steamed clams in a garlic sauce, steamed asparagus, baked yams, spinach salad, a glass of wine and mango fruit and Hershey kisses for dessert.
We strapped on our aprons and got to work.
If you’re lacking in kitchen confidence, think aromatics instead of main courses.
A study done by Chicago neurologist Alan Hirsch tested which food smells act as aphrodisiacs.
He measured changes in penile blood flow levels of men as they were introduced to different odors.
The fragrances of cinnamon buns, roast meat and cheese pizza topped the list.
A trip to Cinnabon might get your man just as worked up as a half-pound of steamed oysters on his plate.
As for my boyfriend and me, we successfully prepared the dishes and set the table for two with one candle and some background music. Mood is a definite factor.
No matter how potent your passion fruit, the effects of it won’t be as obvious if you’ve got Metallica cranking in the next room.
When all was ready, we sat down to dinner.
It was a fabulous dinner, and I don’t think we’d have had better if we’d gone out to eat.
Plus, that would have eliminated the feeling of satisfaction from knowing we’d done it ourselves.
Dessert was equally as eventful.
Mango isn’t called the passion fruit for nothing.
It’s a sumptuous fruit, and offers the opportunity to be creative when eating it or feeding it to someone.
The Hershey Kisses were a cute, romantic way to top off the meal.
In all honesty, I don’t know if the aphrodisiacs lived up to their reputation for me.
The wine definitely helped, but I wouldn’t give the rest too much credit.
My boyfriend’s opinion was similar.
Still, I don’t want to discredit hundreds and thousands of years of nutritional research and legend.
Aphrodisiacs probably do affect sex drive in some people, but I think in our case there were several factors at play.
We spent the evening focused on each other, with a goal of doing something meaningful together.
We accomplished a fantastic meal and paid close attention to mood and libido.
It was a healthy, stress-free relationship atmosphere.
Complexity of meal selection and incorporation of aphrodisiacs probably aren’t what will fuel your sex drive.
Spending time with someone you care about is key.
For example, we found that cooking can be a very sensual activity.
It prompted discussion, cooperation and gave us the opportunity to be interactive and productive.
If you’re in the early stages of a relationship (or looking for a Valentine’s Day date idea), cooking dinner with your significant other instead of for him or her could be a very comfortable way to get to know your partner and a fun way to spend the evening.
Nadia Stadnycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.