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This year’s Almanac dished up ten spices historically considered to be aphrodisiacs, prizes of fabled voyages. But since the time of the ancient Greeks a variety of other foods were considered sexually useful. Aphrodite, the love goddess herself, considered sparrows sacred because of their “amorous nature” and included them in erotic brews. Through the ages, many edibles were considered aphrodisiac at one time or another, some for their seeds or significant forms.
Asparagus—Considered aphrodisiac for phallic shape. Ancients believed one had to eat it for three days to enjoy the most powerful effect.
Almonds—The aroma was thought to arouse passion in women. Marzipan candies were a favorite evening sweet
Avocado—Aztecs called the avocado tree ahuacuatl, “testicle tree,” and believed in its sexual potency
Carrots—Considered a male stimulant since ancient times, used by Middle Eastern royalty to aid seduction.
Coffee—Caffeine has long been known as a stimulant. After-dinner coffee, especially strong dark demitasse cups of the brew, was believed to help stir up romance.
Figs—A halved fig with its many seeds was thought to symbolize female sex organs.
Garlic—The “heat” in garlic was said to stir sexual desires.
Honey—Medieval seducers plied their lovers with mead, honey wine.
Licorice—The essence of the licorice plant, glycrrhizin, is fifty times sweeter than sugar. Chewing on fragments of licorice root was said to be stimulating to women.
Oysters—Especially beloved by the Romans as aphrodisiacs. Juvenal described “the wanton ways of women after drinking wine and eating giant oysters.”
Truffles—Greeks and Romans prized the rare food for its musty aroma, said to stimulate and sensitize the sense of touch.