If you are like me, you love to eat. If you are lucky, you have someone to love in your life....a valentine of any sort to share food with. But what to share? There's chocolate and those candy hearts, a plate of spaghetti or a glass of wine....but isn't that almost cliche? Here are some ideas to break away from the expected and spice up any romantic evening. I referred to several writings on sensual foods (there were many), including one on http://www.gourmetsleuth.com, About.com and an article in the Seattle Herald. Here is what I found:
An aphrodisiac is a food or drink that is thought to stimulate desire and cause excitement.
I. Arousing herbs and spices:
Almonds are said to induce passion in a woman and be a symbol of fertility. Try serving Marzipan (almond paste) dipped in chocolate for dessert. Or start the day with a little almond butter on toast.
Vanilla aroma is believed to increase lust. Try vanilla scented glazed carrots or a Vanilla Old Fashioned cocktail.
Basil (sweet basil) is said to stimulate the sex drive and boost fertility while producing a general sense of well being for body and mind. Try adding good pesto to grilled fish, pasta, or sliced tomatoes, or add fresh basil to your salad.
Garlic - truly a couples thing - both parties have to eat it to avoid “garlic breath”. Garlic is said to stir sexual desires. Roasting garlic sweetens it, but a hit of fresh chopped garlic at the end of cooking greens or pasta gives a little heat. Scampi is always a classic.
Ginger in any form is a stimulant to the circulatory system. Try some gingered sea bass for a light meal, or gingersnaps for dessert.
Honey Ancient Egyptian used honey for many things, including cures for sterility and impotence. Mead is a honey based wine, try a bit of honey in your vinaigrette or drizzled over a nice feta cheese for apps - add some almonds too!
Chewing on bits of licorice root is said to enhance love and lust. It is particularly stimulating to woman. Try licorice scented onions for an interesting side dish.
Mustard can stimulate the sexual glands and increase desire. Prepare a mustard chicken or salmon toasts with mustard butter for appetizer.
Nutmeg was highly prized by Chinese women as an aphrodisiac but too much can produce a hallucinogenic effect. A light sprinkling of the spice in pumpkin soup or ravioli can help spice up your evening. Sprinkle lightly on dark leafy greens and mashed cauliflower to bring a warm balance to your sides.
Coriander (Cilantro seed) and Cilantro leaf - The book of The Arabian nights is over 1000 years old and tells a tale of coriander as an aphrodisiac. Thai, Indian and Mexican cuisine rely heavily on this herb.
Ginseng - increases desire for physical contact Make a tea!
Fennel was used by Egyptians years ago as a "libido enhancement". Fennel seed pairs well with roasted pork, an orange and raw fennel salad is wonderfully fresh, served with a side of Fennel Crackers.
Aniseed - The Greeks and the Romans believed sucking on the seeds is said to increases your desire with it’s “special powers”. Try grown up fig newtons or this yummy soup of chickpeas ,olives and anise.
II. Fruits and Vegetables:
Radish is considered a divine aphrodisiac by Egyptian pharoahs, most likely because its spicy taste stimulated the palate.
Asparagus, being rather phallic in length, and Avocado, which the ancient Aztecs thought resembled the male's testicles when hanging in pairs on the tree, are often used as aphrodisiacs. Both are delicious additions to many meals, or in soups and salads.
Bananas - due not only to its phallic shape, but also its enzyme bromelain which enhances male performance. Bananas are also rich in potassium and B vitamins, necessities for sex hormone production.Desserts, breads and pancakes take bananas well, but try this chicken soup.
Pineapple - full of vitamin C and has been used as a homeopathic treatment for impotence. Try a pineapple salsa or grill fresh pineapple and serve with a Maple Walnut ice cream.
Berries, figs, and pomegranates are great too - particularly for there sensual juicy tastes, lushness and their exotic nature. A man breaking open a fig and eating it in front of his lover is a powerful erotic act in ancient lore.
Truffles (the mushroom, not the chocolate kind) The musky scent is said to stimulate and sensitize the skin to touch. A little dab will do you here...shave some into your favorite risotto, or use a little truffle oil on top of grilled vegetables.
III. ZINC for a little ZING!
Zinc is is a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency by stimulating the formation of testosterone. Plus it helps fight colds....
Caviar and Oysters - are high in zinc, as are Pine Nuts! Try this light oyster soup, topped with a small toast and caviar for a beautiful presentation.
Serve pine nut cookies with a dark espresso for a stimulating dessert.
So be creative...from breakfast to dinner, take out to cooking together. Add a little spice to your special evening. Food is love.....happy Valentine's Day.