By ZUBIN D’SOUZA
So, Valentine’s Day is around the corner and many of you will be out shopping for cheesy flowers, stuffed teddies, heart shaped chocolates and assorted schmaltz that graces shopping windows. The brave may even venture some diamond ornaments or assorted forms of bling adornments. Well all these may get you a mention in the good books but if you really want brownie points, if you really want to travel the whole nine yards…………you have to throw some aphrodisiacs in the mix.
Now most people perceive aphrodisiacs as some form of magical potion that the minute they are consumed, you can convince your partner to do things to you that may be frowned upon in puritan society. That’s not how aphrodisiacs work!
Some people even claim that aphrodisiacs do not work. Now that is something I do not agree with. Aphrodisiacs are primarily composed of food and with the right food, you can do wonders. To put that in perspective, you could be a hunk with rippling muscles and a carved belly but then you may have tough time even eliciting companionship from a dog in a playground if you chose to bribe it with a soggy tomato sandwich.
The word ‘aphrodisiac’ is derived from the name of the goddess Aphrodite who was the one whose intervention was sought on matters of love, fertility, passion and sensual pleasures. I am going to be the bad guy here and state the obvious – Aphrodisiacs are not always meant to culminate in a romp in bed. Though that happens in a majority of cases; to be blunt, they are to be looked upon as a partnership aid and not as a date rape drug.
Aphrodisiacs are of two types – those that promote passion and virility and those that help in fertility. In the ancient times, the method of divining the foods was based on their resemblance to male or female genetalia or on observing the natural effects that food had on people. So bananas, asparagus for their phallic appearance, oysters and mussels for looking like the lady nether region and avocados because they always hang in clusters of two and when they ripen, they turn blackish and resemble scrotal sacs as is the same thing with cocoa beans and chocolate. Alcohol and drugs are the classic cases of effects that are visible post observation where the results are that inhibitions and clothes are easily discarded. Since neither I nor this column supports that line of thinking, we will not delve further into that road to self destruction.
Now if there was appearance alone and the theory was not supported by science, then I too would join the line of scoffers. But then there is also the science; Nicholas Culpeper, an English herbalist around the 17th century observed that asparagus ‘stirred up lust in men and women’. Newlyweds were served three courses of the vegetable which is a great booster of histamine production which is necessary for both sexes to reach an orgasm. Bananas contain a bromeliad enzyme which enhances the male libido and oysters contain enough zinc to send men and women into a tizzy.
Chocolate which is the epitome of sensuality contains chemicals that release dopamine which is n the pleasure centre of the brain and creates a sense of euphoria.
Although extremely stinky, garlic contains allicin which increases desire and coupled with a good mouth wash could work wonders for you in bed. And if you are in the mood for something hotter, then a good dose of chillies and the wonderful capsaicin compounds inside there would get your blood pumping and other parts pumping as well.
Of course if you go to China and order in some aphrodisiacs, you must be prepared to be plied with tiger and deer penises and maybe a rhino horn or two. Although I do not understand the logic in that, I am guessing that the horn is supposed to go a long way in making you horny!