| Bota Bota, spa-sur-l'eau

Gastronomy

A Hot and Spicy Affair

by Robyn Fadden

There’s no doubt that food stimulates our senses, but can food really turn us on? Aphrodisiac foods tread a fine line between scientific fact and sultry anecdote. In the best of circumstances, a dish’s tastes, scents, and textures elicit mmms and oohs, warmth and joy – and sometimes those feelings lead to something even more sensual.

Some scientists and doctors theorize that while aphrodisiac foods don’t necessarily work directly on our sex organs, they do have numerous effects on the mind and body. From chocolate to red wine, carrots to coffee, some foods affect women and men differently due to our different metabolisms or simply because of how the foods look and feel. Of course, an easy way to unravel the mystery is to try the most stimulating foods for ourselves and eagerly await their results.

1. Looking good. Some foods suggest the sexual, mimicking male and female genitalia in one way or another. While certain foodies hypothesize that the zinc and iron in oysters stimulate blood flow down below and even progesterone levels in both men and women, the visual cues in the folds of an oyster definitely stimulate our sexual subconscious, as does any phallic-looking food, even the innocent banana. Similarly, others say that any foods that remind us of reproduction – such as eggs and caviar – do the same. And anything exotic or rare-looking piques not only our curiosity but also our sex drive.

2. Warm and smooth. Hot foods fire up our senses and warm more than our bellies. A curry or soup made with chili peppers, garlic, and ginger can add colour to our cheeks and spark fires in the bedroom. Chocolate, a food most women associate with pleasure, sexual or otherwise, not only reminds us of decadence as it melts slowly in our mouths, but also contains traces of the happy-making chemicals serotonin and phenylethylamine.

3. Eat your vegetables. Make veggies the focus of a meal, and dinner might end up surprising you. While commonplace as staple foods in winter, onions, carrots, turnips, and squash have long been thought of as stimulating. Add asparagus and artichokes to the mix – they’re rumoured to increase sperm count, but, like all vegetables, they’ll also give anyone a vital dose of essential nutrients and energy. Count celery in too, not for its crunch but for its minor amounts of androsterone, a hormone found in males that stimulates women’s sexual arousal.

4. An apple a day. Fruit embodies many of the aforementioned sensual traits. The curves of apples, peaches, and pears have erotic, feminine appeal, while seeded fruits such as pomegranates and figs conjure images of fertility. Already in bite-size proportions, cherries, strawberries, dates, and grapes are naturally perfect for dipping in chocolate and feeding to each other.

5. Wine and dine. Unsurprisingly, alcohol tops many people’s aphrodisiac lists for its relaxing qualities, allowing us to let loose, say the sweet (or silly) things we might hold back otherwise, and make moves much bolder and sexier than we’re used to. Pair it in moderation with any of the foods above and an amenable partner, and the night is bound to go in an exciting direction.