A beginner's guide to aphrodisiac foods

Sexy foods

What better month than February to focus on aphrodisiac foods?

Being the month of love, I thought I'd get you started with a bit of history and some ideas just in case you need a kick start for your Valentine's Day celebrations, or maybe even stay warm on a cold winter night.

Apples—The historical implication of the fruit from the Garden of Eden makes this an obvious choice. Some say it has the shape of a heart when cut open, which is suggestive. They are also a great energy food, a factor that might come in handy if you need a bit of a boost. And, if you don't find your libido lifting after biting into a juicy red apple, then at least you'll be healthy.

Bacon—Did you think I was going to say banana for B? That was far too obvious. So this entry isn't so much a healthy one, but you can't argue about many people's passion for pork, and especially bacon. I know of folks who call themselves vegetarians, but with the caveat that they refuse to give up bacon. Carnivorous passion could certainly be called primal, right?

Caviar, Champagne, Chocolate—There is a running theme here, isn't there? The romance created by these items is long known to set the mood, and that is half the battle in most situations. If your partner doesn't like these things, then set out what they do like. Maybe it's bacon (wink wink).

You get the idea, don't you? Some foods through history have been linked to sensual aromas, tastes or textures or suggestive shapes. Some raise body temperature (like chiles) while others spark mental or physical reactions that arouse us or make us feel loved (like the zinc in oysters). Any, or all, of these factors can help you to set your own scene for romance.

In today's age, we seem to need all the help we can get in making quality time work. So, why not try a new idea? Here are a few more foods that might strike your fancy:

Marshmallow—Originally, this sticky treat was made from mallow root and it has a long history of being used as a medicinal herb, curing all kinds of ails, including impotence, apparently. Today's recipe doesn't use the root but sweet and sticky creates its own mood, wouldn't you agree?

Shrimp—Many cultures have stories of the alluring qualities of this crustacean (other shellfish also qualify. (Remember actress Jessica Biel eating lobster in the movie Flashdance?) There is scientific background here as well. The iodine in shrimp is essential to our metabolism, and a low iodine level is linked to low sex drive. So, go ahead, have another one (I’m winking again).

Watermelon—The colour red is a good start and juicy foods are sexy to eat. If you practice, spitting the seeds can be sexy too! Again, there is a scientific basis to include the quintessential fruit of summer, it contains a phytonutrient called citrulline that helps to relax blood vessels, much like Viagra. Now don't get too excited, the citrulline is mostly in the rind. Research is of course underway to create a "souped-up" version but no luck yet.

Perhaps the concept of having the quality time is what you need to create a romantic evening, no television, no cell phones and no kids wanting your attention. But, since we are so unused to life without distractions, at least the food will help calm everyone's nerves and break the ice.

Bon appetit! And here’s to love and romance in every month of the year.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Don't let recipes die, pass them on

Sharing favourite recipes

“February made me shiver…”

Does that quote strike a chord with you?

Perhaps it just rings true because of the gloomy weather recently, but for those of us who remember the tune, these words come from Don Maclean’s song, American Pie.

This classic rock ’n roll song speaks of the many changes and shocking events occurring in the rock ’n roll era. The early hopeful years ended with the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper on Feb. 3,1959.

Hubbie and I saw the site of the plane crash and the hall where they performed on that last night of the Winter Dance Party Tour. There is a memorial at the crash site, in a corn field outside Clear Lake, Iowa.

The Surf Ballroom, where the concert was played, is still around and still hosts concerts. (Don Maclean played there in 1980 and hand wrote a message in the green room, as have many other musicians over the years.) It turns out the music lived on after all.

February can be a melancholy month with its weather, but from ancient times there has been a concerted effort to look forward to brighter days.

Imbolc is a Celtic celebration that marks the halfway point to the spring equinox and Candlemas is a Christian celebration of light returning after the darkness of winter.

In modern times many communities have adopted a more lighthearted note in February – how else could you describe using a groundhog and his shadow as a reason for a celebration? Any way we look at it, the idea seems to be to focus on the future and look forward to spring coming (hopefully) soon.

You might be wondering how I’m going to connect my love of food with February and “the day the music died”. Well, I’m hoping you will consider this week’s column as a sign that you ought not let your food traditions die.

I recently read an article (link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/gravestone-recipes ) about gravestones that included family recipes. That tribute might seem a bit morose, but then I thought what a shame it would be if those recipes were never shared at all.

You may well have your mom’s Christmas cookie recipe, but do you know how to make your family’s favourite everyday cookie, or your favourite childhood dinner?

I don’t think there has ever been a song about the day a recipe died, but perhaps there should be. Many times over the years at dinner parties we catered, I heard people lament not having a family recipe they miss.

So, your homework this week, dear reader, is to reach out and make sure those recipes get shared. Send them out if you are the cook and ask for them if you are the recipient.

I’ll start with one of mine. Here’s the recipe for my mom’s homemade mayo. It’s also the secret to the best pimento and cheese spread, which I need to make again soon.

Thanks, Mom, for passing it on.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Making it through the worst winter months

Beating the winter blues

There are lots of memes out there about January feeling like it has so many more days than 31.

It seems everyone feels the year starts slowly, and with the usual dose of winter weather that puts them in a funk. If you aren’t escaping to a beach somewhere, most marketing messages will tell you you’re depressed.

The good news is, it’s almost over. The bad news is, February comes next.

If you’re a ski bum, you probably don’t care what month we’re in. You’re busy sinking into whatever powder or backcountry trail you can find. I don’t need to cheer you up. You likely have a pot of stew on the cabin stove and a bottle of good wine at the ready. Carry on. (If you need inspiration for what to cook at the cabin, scroll back a few weeks to my “comfort food” column.)

But what about those of us in that funk? We can’t be eating stew and bread pudding all winter. Even if we’re eating healthy, we need more diversion to break up those dark days. I think that’s why February has Carnival (or Mardi Gras if you’re in New Orleans). January is a bit tougher, so perhaps a wee dose of melancholy is in order?

By the time you read this, (Robbie) Burns Night will have passed. So, I hope you had your wee dram of scotch and sat by the fire with some good poetry if you didn’t enjoy a Burns supper. It’s not a fancy meal, but it pays great tribute to Scotland’s national poet. The Scots are good at melancholy (I would know, I’m half Scottish.)

So, if you feel the need to have a tardy celebration, here’s the gist of it. Burns was apparently fond of haggis – he even wrote a poem about it. (In case you aren’t familiar with it, haggis is basically a Scottish version of meatloaf. It is served with mashed potatoes and mashed turnips, called “tatties” and “neeps” respectively.) That is the menu for a Burns supper, along with the scotch whiskey for toasting, of course.

If you missed the occasion and want to offer your sentiment, “Sláinte Mhath” is the phrase used (pronounced “slant-ja va”), meaning “good health”

Another celebration upon us soon will be the Chinese, or Lunar, New Year, starting with the new moon (Febr. 8 this year). Many people prepare by thoroughly cleaning their houses, as a way of getting rid of any lingering bad luck. If you’re feeling unlucky, perhaps this would help you. I’m thinking it certainly couldn’t hurt. I have started with my closets.

If you are feeling the January blues and have no interest in celebrating at an event, you might want to consider the suggestion from the National Health System in Wales, called “Five Ways of Wellbeing”:

1. Take real notice of the things around you

2. Connect with someone important to you or perhaps someone you don’t know

3. Be physically active

4. Learn something new

5. Give something of value to someone else. That could be in the form of giving your time or something of material value.

Perhaps the thing to do in the dead of winter is just pause and celebrate your own little victories such as trying a new recipe or reading a good book. Maybe take the time to catch up with an old friend or start a new hobby.

Even making the effort to share a smile on a winter day gives value and before we know it, we’ll have made it through to spring. We’ve got this.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Looking back to the the days of Prohibition

To drink or not to drink

How many of you reading this have sworn to take part in “Dry January?”

It is one of the popular measures many people use to start the new year in a healthy fashion.

Choosing not to drink is one thing, but what about being told that no drinking is allowed? Did you know Prohibition started a bit more than a 100 years ago in January?

Prohibition in Canada was not much of a thing—it was repealed in the early 1920s in most provinces. But in America, Prohibition became big business, not just for the alcohol sales but also for the drivers who delivered the product.

Did you know their skillful driving, whether distracting authorities or dashing down country roads to make many deliveries, was the beginning of what became NASCAR?

Stock car racing – done on dirt country tracks with cars that looked like the family car – was attended by local folk, with racers who learned their skills as rumrunners. There was no money in it, drivers raced because they loved it. It was a grass roots effort that created a national association to support a new racing form for the middle class.

Alcohol wasn’t just smuggled around America during Prohibition, it was carried across the border too. Using trucks, the rail system and even the international waters, alcohol was brought in from Canada and the Caribbean.

There was a rampant rumour of a German submarine being sighted off the East Coast in 1922 which was never verified at the time, but Coast Guard files do contain a photo of two underwater vessels that were confirmed as not being American. Nothing has ever been declared or proven either way.

Canadian authorities did discover a “submarine without motors” that developed a leak and sunk. They surmised it was used for towing up to 5,000 bottles of beer across Lake Champlain to New York and Vermont.

Prohibition had some interesting side effects as well. I’m not sure who got the grant to discover these facts but check this out:

• Consumption of ice cream went up 55% during the height of Prohibition (were people looking for another vice?)

• The number of registered U.S. patents decreased by 15% (perhaps all those inspirational ideas developed over a pint were stymied?)

• The habit of prescribing alcohol for all kinds of ailments became a lucrative loophole for pharmacies—doctors, dentists, even veterinarians could write notes for people.

One campaign that gained popularity even towards the end of Prohibition may sound familiar – have you heard of mocktails?

Roxana Doran, a prominent member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union wrote a book titled “Prohibition Punches” in 1930, touting their health benefits along with their fresh flavours and elegant presentation. She encouraged housewives to host parties with these alternatives and embrace a lifestyle without alcohol. Was it a coincidence her husband was the commissioner of Prohibition?

Doran may have endured some criticism for being so zealous about her promotion of fruit juices and other non-alcoholic drinks along with her husband’s campaign views, but the women’s group of which she was part was instrumental in demonstrating how public health could be shaped through encouraging certain lifestyle habits.

So, cheers to the efforts of the innovators who created things like NASCAR and speakeasy’s amidst the conflict that Prohibition caused. Or maybe we should all enjoy a nice glass of a vegetable cocktail instead and consider a healthier approach.

Perhaps we can simply celebrate having a choice.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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