Just when you think winter may never end, Valentine’s Day is upon us. Suddenly there’s that love-in-the-air kind of feeling.
For all you lovers out there, it’s easy to share that feeling through food—particularly when the food serves as an aphrodisiac!
Named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, these turn-on foods certainly set the mood. So be strategic about your Valentine’s Day dinner and get the most out of your evening by keeping these foods in mind.
The classic aphrodisiac, oysters are always high on the list of foods that spell L-O-V-E. Perhaps it’s their suggestive shape and briny flavor, or their high zinc content, known to boost testosterone and libido. In any case, the legendary Casanova purportedly consumed 50 oysters daily! And we all know what he was famous for…
Spicy, hot flavors are frequently associated with superior love-making abilities. In fact, 16th-century Spanish explorers were warned of the lustful thoughts they would have when consuming the local chili peppers of Mexico and Peru. Perhaps it’s just the capsaicin in hot peppers that raises the heart rate, mimicking arousal, but you never know.
Likened in appearance to both male and female anatomical parts, the fig has been called nature’s candy. Underneath the tender skin lies an obscenely lush interior of decadent-sweet purple flesh flecked with seeds, just waiting for you to take a bite.
Aphrodite was believed to have planted the first pomegranate tree. Some Biblical scholars believe Eve actually used a pomegranate to tempt Adam, not an apple. Either way, those ruby-red seeds are appealing.
Everyone’s favorite, chocolate has become synonymous with Valentine’s Day…and for good reason. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and can actually be heart-healthy, just like falling in love. Referred to as “nourishment of the Gods” by the Aztecs, we couldn’t agree more.
And of course, don’t forget the wine! Whether sparkling or still, wine relaxes us and curbs our anxieties, while stimulating our senses at the same time. Enjoyed in reasonable amounts, alcohol will put the evening on a blissful path.
There are plenty of aphrodisiacal food options in area restaurants. After all, on the most romantic night of the year, you’d be wise to choose the right food for the mood.
Executive Chef-Owner Michael Paulsen of Abigail’s (Highland Park) cooks seasonally and makes regular use of both figs and pomegranates; keep an eye open for Valentine’s Day offerings. Likewise, Chef Andy Motto of Quince (Evanston) has been known to make a fabulous pomegranate sorbet.
Wines to purchase are always on offer at Vinic (Evanston), The Bottle Shop (Wilmette), andSchaefer’s (Skokie). And wines paired with delicious dinners can be found at The Stained Glass(Evanston) and Cooper’s Hawk Winery Restaurant (Wheeling).