Valentine’s Day originated in the Roman pagan fertility celebration of Lupercalia. But while other ancient cultures may have been ignorant of the festival, they all knew a little something about igniting romance.
Throughout the millennia different civilizations employed special food traditions with an eye toward stirring passion, invigorating performance, and ensuring the succession of future generations. Even the word ‘aphrodisiac’ is old, harkening back to Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love.
From the shape and appearance of certain foods (think oysters and bananas), to the sensual pleasure of eating (think the taste and texture of mango and honey), to foods that literally make you hot (think chili peppers and cinnamon), to the scientific underpinnings of food properties (think a boost in pheromones and physical vigor), lists are published every February urging you to find new ways to spark romance with your Sweetheart.
Here are a few of the aphrodisiac foods we use in our Valentine’s Menu at Brasserie Provence:
DARK CHOCOLATE: How could we not? Chocolate boosts serotonin levels to make us FEEL GOOD!
ALMONDS: A traditional symbol of fertility, chock full of vitamins B & E and calcium; the fragrance is said to make women swoon.
AVOCADO: The Aztecs called them “testicles” based on the way they appear hanging from the tree; they’re rich in non-essential fatty acids that help to produce hormones.
ASPARAGUS: Rich in Vitamins A & E, considered an amorous booster.
FIGS: The cross-section of a fig says it all.
WATERMELON: Contains citrulline, an organic compound shown to relax blood vessels, similar to Viagra.
CHILI PEPPER: Makes you sweat, your heart pound, and your endorphins release, just like passion does.
But as in all matters of the heart, your own taste and experience are important guides in choosing the ingredients for igniting your evening of Love. And when it comes to a recipe for romance, don’t just count on food to do all of the work. We recommend other important ingredients such as holding hands, murmuring words of love, soft music to set the mood, toasting one another with a sip of champagne, and staring deeply into one another’s eyes. So whether or not there’s any truth to foods being aphrodisiac, or it’s actually the planning and implementation that create the anticipation and desire, we’ll leave that up to you and your Valentine to discover together!
The French considered artichokes to be a strong aphrodisiac for hundreds of years. Our recipe combines artichokes with several other natural aphrodisiac ingredients – onion, garlic, olive oil, and carrots – for that special sense of Ooh La La!
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large artichokes or 1 jar of artichoke hearts in water
1 medium onion diced small
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 small carrot, small dice
Pinch of thyme, minced
¼ cup of tomatoes, diced
½ cup of white wine
Cut artichoke hearts into wedges (if using fresh artichokes, trim hearts with a few leaves attached.) Clean and store in lemon water.
Combine and cook the artichokes, carrots, onions and garlic in the olive oil until lightly caramelized.
Add the wine, then the tomatoes and thyme.
Cook slowly for 30 minutes for fresh artichokes hearts, and 5 minutes for jarred artichokes hearts.
Makes 6 servings