With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, there’s no better time to talk aphrodisiacs. People have been using food as libidinal jumper cables for ages: The Kama Sutra devotes pages to herbs and objects that enhance sensuality. Aphrodisiacs also appear in the ancient empires of the Mediterranean—the word itself derives from the name of the Greek goddess of beauty and love, Aphrodite. Common aphrodisiacs include oysters, champagne, asparagus, chocolate, pomegranate, and saffron, among many, many others. It all depends who you ask.
But do they actually work? Who knows (plus, this is a family site). In actuality, there’s never really been any conclusive scientific backing behind aphrodisiacs. Some foods, like coffee, are stimulants in that they up your heart rate, but that’s about it. Instead, aphrodisiacs are more fun to talk about as historical artifacts. We humans love to imbue things with meaning, whether or not there’s any real justification. If you feel like eating some common aphrodisiacs this Valentine’s Day, be my guest! Here are some recipes to get you started. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!