Aphrodisiacs at the Table and in your Glass
In gastronomy, the distance between those who believe in aphrodisiacs and those who believe in Cooking for Two is huge, as big as that which separates militant vegetarians from those addicted to pork ribs.
Eating specialists –those present in responsible, academic cooking classes – avow that there is no aphrodisiac product.
After twenty years, Howard Hillman brought to a close an important study on food with this sentence: “There is scarcely any food, including garlic, that has not been considered an aphrodisiac at one point in time, or at one place in the world.”
The list of hypothetical aphrodisiacs is long.
It includes herbs and spices, caviar, saffron, truffle, seafood, nutmeg, ginger, dates, eels, different types of eggs from half a dozen birds, sesame seeds, chili, oysters, everything else not mentioned here, and chocolate.
During the Seventeenth Century, things reached a limit with chocolate, with the prohibition that monks and English ladies could not eat it. It was supposed to “make them more inclined to lose their virtue.”
When Dr. Arnold Bender, world authority in food and nutrition fraud, was asked about the aphrodisiac virtues in Vitamin E, he answered with British irony: “After years of research, the immediate sexual value of Vitamin E in humans has been impossible to prove.”
That’s why those in favor of Cooking for Two, don’t wager on aphrodisiacs. They know that faith works.
This was confirmed in a world Sexology Congress held in Bombay, where in good reason popular books on the matter are published. During the Congress, after three days of lectures and round table discussions, a simple conclusion was reached: “There is no better aphrodisiac than a good dinner with wine and candle light.”
Bottles and options
After reading about the discovery at the Sexology Congress, a wine lover won’t be inclined to go out running and grab a bottle of red, white, rose and sparkling wine; he’ll ponder his choice.
When he does it, he’ll remember some tips: reds with body, and poor quality reds, are all astringent and make your mouth dry. In the world of seduction, that is something to shy away from. On the contrary, young reds, modern and superbly produced ones have elegant, juicy tannins, with a controlled smoothness.
Fine white wine has a balanced, pleasant sharpness that leaves your mouth feeling fresh, juicy, wanting more. The bad ones are too acid, stinging; hence, not advisable.
In the opinion of those knowledgable in the matter, one of the best wines for sharing is Oporto. Since Seduction is not expressed with bitter notes, but rather sweet ones, Modernity adds to it all thewhite wines that comply with that requisite. There the consumer can move among Muscatels and Late Harvest, to the expensive superior category, like those of Sauternes or Tokaji.
And what about bubbly ones? This is the fastest growing wine category worldwide. Nowadays, inconceivable only fifteen years ago, there are many options in price, style and color. When you’re face to face with one of these bottles, remember the aphrodisiac motto: “Faith works.”
Alberto Soria Writer / Journalist specialized in Gastronomy, Wines and Spirits / University Professor