by Lorette C. Luzajic
I’m a woman of frankly ribald appetites. If you take a pinch of my lust for life, add a dash of my fearless desire for adventure, stir in my keen eye for beauty, and blend with my thorough appreciation for all things pleasurable, you’ll see why my oven is so hot.
Ahem. That said, Valentine’s Day might be the only time of year where I don’t feel especially frisky. Between the holidays and early March, there’s a winter malaise in my moods. These are the weeks in which I dust off old Smiths albums, or lay in the dark listening to Don Giovanni and popping leftover Christmas ginger snaps. When the radiator is working, it’s so hot in my humble flat that my hair practically catches fire and the cats pant by the door. But when it’s working intermittently, I’m like an assembly of icicles. At these times, I am, well, frigid.
February is when I want to crawl under my silk zebra sheets in something a little cosier than my pink baby doll, and I prefer the cats act as hot water bottles while you keep your icy feet to yourself at your house. Initially, I was going to help us both get in the mood with some edible aphrodisiacs. But I’ll be plenty busy when the lambs start to leap, and every girl knows that chocolate is better than sex, so it’s off to the cocoa land I go.
Forget trays of assorted chocolates. What you want is a massive slice of Guinness Chocolate Cake from Allen’s on the Danforth. Rest assured, plural men in suits will ask the ol’ “Do you come here often?” If they do not resemble Madonna’s boyfriend Jesus Luz, or President Obama, simply tilt head back, ease chocolate Guinness glory between lips, and close eyes and moan until he’s gone. Repeat as necessary. However, if he does resemble Detective Goren you may want to wave at the waiter for another fork.
Chocolate contains phenylethylamines that give you a happiness rush and a nice flush. Aztec kings used cocoa drinks in harems to relax women and rev men up. Some scientists think the trace amounts of the phytochemical can’t possibly make a difference in the body’s pleasure zones, but popular wisdom shows chocolate as the sexiest, most addictive food we know.
Cuckoo for coco puffs? Stay with the real deal and skip the grains. Back in the 1800s, when the Natural Hygiene Movement- vegetarianism- began entering the public consciousness, cereal gurus Kellogg and Graham began warning us to eat cereal to avoid meat’s horrible danger.
What was the danger? Lust. A slab of perfectly grilled steak is loaded with zinc, protein, and B-vitamins, all things that rev the body’s natural desires. Meat raises testosterone levels, which for both men and women means burning more fat and building more muscle and feeling heightened sexual desire. Whether flying solo or dancing the pink satin-sheeted rumba, a rare steak is king.
It’s also easy to spice up your single life or your love story with exotic flavours. The same anti-nature ‘natural’ hygiene movement decried spices, as do ascetic eastern religious practices, including some yoga, because spices ‘inflame lust.’ Indeed, spices can rev up metabolism, circulation, and hormone production.
Preena Chauhan of Arvinda’s Artisan Spice Blends, Canada’s leading Indian food expert, says, “Indian cuisine is known to be aphrodisiacal in nature, namely because of the vast array of spices we use, which themselves have euphoric-inducing qualities.” She says, “Any food that awakens the senses and excites the mind, body and spirit are considered to be aphrodisiacs having immense power upon our senses. Physiological effects can include raising body temperature and increasing the heart rate.”
Ginger, fennel, chilli powder, cardamom and cloves are a few of Preena’s favourite flavours. Chilli’s brash bite triggers endorphin release; ginger’s zesty bite increases circulation; cloves and cardamom stimulate and relax at the same time, and fennel contains estrogen-like compounds traditionally used to get you into the mood.
Dolfin of Belgium makes the most exquisite line of chocolate delights, incorporating these spices into its sweet treats. Two thrills in one! Choose masala chocolate or chilli or white pepper, even. When you find them, stock up.
What else? Well, a few of my girlfriends swear by cherry cheesecake or Pringles. But for me, there is one food that stands above the beckon of booze, the sweet siren of sugar, and the thrill of the grill. The oyster is the most delicious, decadent food of all. Forget all that horseradish tomfoolery- these exquisite secret caches of the sea should be naked and so should you.
Eating oysters may be better than sex, but then, they are even better in the arms of Aphrodite. It is oysters that have the top reputation as the manna of the goddess, and indeed, rising from a half-shell is Boticelli’s famous Birth of Venus. The slippery, briny squiggles of flesh bear an uncanny resemblance to, well, the birthplace of Venus- they are downright pornographic.
And just one of these little nibbles packs a whole days RDA of zinc. Zinc is associated with masculine virility, for the fluids of that virility deplete zinc easily. Zinc is also a dear friend of testosterone. But zinc is needed to keep a woman’s plumbing in prime as well. No vegetable matter comes close- you can try eating thirty oranges – or 120 oranges, as seafood zinc is four times as bioavailable- to one little oyster.
Oysters are an acquired taste, to be sure, but once you’ve acquired that taste, nothing else will do. Eating oysters may be even better than the real thing, but don’t be surprised if you’ll want the real thing after all.