Some people will do anything to impress a date. Consider:
\o7 He who boils asparagus, and then fries them in fat, and then pours upon them the yolks of eggs with pounded condiments, and eats every day of this dish, will . . . find in it a stimulant for his amorous desires."
\f7 --Sheik Nefzawi, "The Perfumed Garden for the Soul's Delectation"
\o7 Dry, steep and stew in sauce the kidneys of an eagle. Then mix them with drink or meat. The person that consumes them will be drawn into confidence and great love.
\f7 --Cyranus, "Magick of Kirani"
\o7 If you want to get married, stand on your head and chew a piece of gristle out of a beef neck and swallow it--you will get anyone you want.
\f7 American folklore, as reported by Robert Hendrickson, "Lewd Food"
There's been a lot of talk about gnawing on the bark of the West African yohimbe tree--a drug derived from it has been used to treat impotence in humans . . . it can also sexually excite a horse, cow, sheep or dog. And the salt of strychnine has been used as a tonic for sexual impotency. But with death being one of the more irksome side effects, it's best to stick with oysters.
But do oysters work? It depends on who you ask. The late gourmet Roy Andries de Groot reported, "I grew to manhood with the help of oyster." And Casanova himself is supposed to have downed 50 raw oysters first thing every morning.
Of course, M.F.K. Fisher wrote about an insecure young man who ate so many dozens of oysters on the day of a hot date that he made himself sick.
Science is on the side of skeptics like Fisher. But De Groot, like most other oyster lovers, makes much of the "sensual physical aura" of an oyster--in other words, if it were federally funded art, Sen. Jesse Helms would find it offensive. And because oysters--indeed all fish and shellfish--contain a hefty dose of those bodacious minerals, iodine and phosphorus, the oyster's reputation holds strong.
Phosphorous also turns up in wheat germ, sunflower seeds, soybeans, barley and brown rice--health fanatics might not be as crazy as you think. Asparagus and ginseng are prized for their shape; carrots and pomegranate seeds for their estrogen-like chemicals; spinach by those who've watched too many Popeye cartoons. Cleopatra liked figs; Caruso liked marinara sauce. In fact, it's hard to find a food that's not somebody's idea of an aphrodisiac.
The kind of men who think diamonds are a girl's best friend like to believe in the magical powers of lobster and caviar, \o7 foie gras \f7 and truffles, and bottles of chilled Cristal champagne.
Men from other cultures swear by the private parts of sea turtles, the gall bladders of black bears, powdered rhinoceros horn, reptile parts, camel humps, snail heads and the velvet from deer antlers.
But according to the Food and Drug Administration, there's little need to munch on endangered species or spend a bundle on luxury foods. Last month, the FDA began enforcing a ban on all over-the-counter aphrodisiacs. "(Aphrodisiac) claims have been transmitted largely though folklore and exploited by manufacturers who prey on the gullibility of people who most likely are in need of counsel or therapy," said the FDA's house journal.
Even the Kinsey Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality is a spoilsport when it comes to love food. It reached the conclusion that there is only one true aphrodisiac: a combination of good health, plenty of rest and regular exercise.
\o7 Zzzzz\f7 . . .