Aphrodisiacs, defined as any substance that increases sexual desire, are named after the Greek goddess of love and sexuality, Aphrodite. Scientists insist that most natural aphrodisiacs have a placebo effect, working only because users believe that they will. But, as anyone who’s ever enjoyed a sumptuous meal followed by an extended makeout session will tell you, the human mind (and desire) can be a remarkably powerful thing.
For some ingredients used in the sexy recipes below, the aphrodisiacs passion-inducing properties may be psychosomatic. Oysters have been regarded as a libido-booster since ancient Roman times, in part because they look like a certain aspect of the female anatomy, and in part because we slurp and suck them seductively. But, like Pine Nuts, they also have lots of zinc, which is believed to increase testosterone. Avocado was known by the Aztecs as ahuacuatl (or “testicle tree”), and young maidens were kept inside while the fruit was being harvested. And I don’t think we even need to tell you why Cucumbers fit into this category.
But while some of the ingredients in these sexy recipes are labelled as aphrodisiacs primarily for the suggestiveness of their physical properties, many others may create physiological responses that lead directly to sultry evenings requiring a Barry White soundtrack.
Basil, with which women used to dust their breasts because its scent drove men wild, is said to improve circulation. Carrots, which were used as aphrodisiacs in ancient Greece and Arabia, are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which improves mucous membranes and can help increase natural lubrication. Chocolate, whose potency was legendary among the Aztecs, contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that causes elevated heart and energy rates and a euphoria not unlike being madly in love. Cinnamon produces heat within the body, increasing both physical and sexual appetite; and a drop of its oil on the genitals is said to produce incredible sexual stimulation akin to Spanish fly.
From Cayenne and Coriander to Ginger and Garlic, each of these sexy recipes is chock full of aphrodisiacs believed to get your motor running so you can head out on a highway of prolonged passion. We’ve set the menu for you, so now all you need to do is get your partner in the kitchen and start… erm, “cooking.” –Bret Love
If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to taste some of the best coffee in the world, there’s something about it that seems somehow mystical, even magical. The process of grinding the fresh beans, brewing the pot and sharing an aromatic cup brings with it an air of the ancient– a communal ritual that dates back more than 500 years and spans our entire planet.
Coffee’s roots can be traced to northeastern Ethiopia, and there’s archaeological evidence in the Sufi shrines of Yemen suggesting that it was consumed regularly as early as the 15th century. From its original cultivation in southern Arabia, the sacred bean began to spread across the Muslim world into Europe, India, Indonesia and, eventually, the Americas.
Now, over 2.25 billion cups are consumed every day, with beans harvested from the cherries of trees cultivated in more than 70 different countries.
As technological innovation and globalization has led to a world that feels increasingly small, coffee connoisseurs seem willing to go much further afield in search of exotic varieties to give them their daily java fix. Here, we present a gourmet java aficionado’s guide to the best coffee in the world: Continue reading
The coconut is an incredible fruit, used by cultures all around the world. Pacific Islanders call the palm tree “The Tree of Life,” and believe that coconuts can cure just about any imaginable illness. Scientific studies seem to back them up: Raw coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut butter have all proven to have antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties. In addition to being a delicious source of fiber, vitamins and minerals (including calcium, potassium and electrolytes), coconut has antioxidant properties for healthy skin, can help prevent osteoporosis, lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease. There are a million different ways you can use coconut in your cooking, but here are a few of our favorite coconut recipes.
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from The All New All Purpose Joy Of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker
INGREDIENTS: If they are available, simmer kaffir lime leaves or lemon grass in the coconut milk first for a delicate citrus flavor • 3 cups Chicken Stock • 2 2/3 cups unsweetened coconut milk • 2 small Thai peppers or 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced • 3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla) or soy sauce • 1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger • 1/8 tsp salt • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced, • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
DIRECTIONS: Bring Chicken Stock and coconut milk to a boil in a soup pot. • Reduce heat and stir in peppers, fish sauce, ginger, salt. • Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in chicken breasts and lime juice. • Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. • Ladle into warmed bowls, and garnish with cilantro.
from A Taste of Africa by Dorina Hafner
This curry (pronounced ‘sah-ma-ki wah nahzi’) is popular among the coastal dwellers of Tanzania and on Zanzibar (a.k.a. “the Island of the Spices”).
INGREDIENTS: 2 lb firm fish (e.g. tuna, snapper, salmon or trevally) • salt to taste • 3 Tb vegetable oil • 1 medium onion, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, crushed • I Tbsp curry powder • 2 Tbsp tomato paste • 1-2 chilies (hot peppers, optional) • juice of ½ lemon • ¾ pt coconut milk
DIRECTIONS: Clean and rinse the fish, then season with salt. • Heat the oil in a pan and brown the fish. • Set aside and keep warm. • In the same oil, fry onion until brown. • Add the garlic and stir; cook for 1 minute then add the curry powder, tomato paste, chilies (hot peppers optional) and lemon juice. • Mix well and keep stirring so the mixture does not burn. • Cook for 2-3 minutes. • Add the coconut milk and stir until it boils. • Turn the heat down and add the fried fish. • Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to concentrate and sauce to thicken to a creamy consistency. • Serve hot with boiled or fried rice.
from The Healthy Voyager’s Global Kitchen by Carolyn Scott-Hamilton
INGREDIENTS: 3 cups coconut flakes • ½ cup all-purpose flour • 4 eggs yolks • 1 cup packed brown sugar • ¼ tsp salt • ½ cup butter • 2 Tb vanilla extract • ½ cup chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 13 x 9 in cookie sheets. • In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the coconut, flour, egg yolks, brown sugar, salt, butter and vanilla together into a dough. • Divide the dough into 24 uniform balls, place on greased cookie sheets, and bake for about 35 minutes until golden. • Remove from the oven and let cool. • Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler and drizzle on top of the cookies. • For extra crunchiness, add finely chopped walnuts or pecans to the cookie batter. • For extra sweetness, drizzle some caramel on top as well.
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Want to know a way to instantly endear yourself to anyone you happen to meet in Jordan? Just mention Mansaf, the country’s official National Dish.
Our guide, Ali Abudayeh, had been tantalizing our taste buds for the better part of a week with tales of this traditional Jordanian food. Mary and I love lamb, so the combination of lamb, rice, almonds and fermented yogurt sounded incredibly appetizing.
We finally got a chance to try it the day after our visit to Petra, when Ali and our driver, Rami Remawi, took us for a special lunch at Al Qantarah Restaurant. The look of anticipatory delight in their eyes indicated we were in for a serious treat, and the dish did not disappoint. Rami seemed to take great pleasure in pouring the fermented yogurt over the platter (we even drank some from wine glasses afterwards!), and showed us the method of eating it by rolling pieces of lamb and rice into a gooey ball, then gobbling it down.
Ali was gracious enough to share this traditional recipe, which has been passed down for generations:
(The following Turkish recipe is a guest post by Dalene Heck of Hecktic Travels. You can follow her and her photographer husband Pete on Twitter at @HeckticTravels. If you’re a travel writer interested in submitting an idea for a future guest post, please email Editor In Chief Bret Love at [email protected])
Mantı (pronounced Man-tuh) came to Turkey via residents who migrated across Central Asia. The dumpling-like pasta can be dried and then quickly added to boiling water to be prepared, and is typically stuffed with minced meat, onions and spices. The most popular variety is called Kayseri Mantı, which are very tiny. The mantı is typically served in a garlic yogurt sauce, with a red pepper oil or butter sauce poured on top of that and dried mint and other spices for garnish. Making mantı from scratch takes a bit of effort, but, if you’re pressed for time, you can buy the dried stuff from the local market.
Dough- 3 cups flour • 1 egg yolk • 1 whole egg • 1/2 tsp. salt • 1 cup water
Cooking- 2 Tbsp. melted margarine • 6 cups beef or chicken stock
Filling- 200 gr. minced meat (ground beef) • 2 medium sized onions, grated • Salt and pepper
Topping- 2 1/2 cups Greek-style yogurt • 3 cloves roasted garlic • 1 Tbsp. crushed red or chili pepper • 1 tbsp dried mint • 1 tbsp dried dill (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Sift 2 1/2 cups of flour and make a hollow well in the middle. • Put 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 tbsp salt and water into the well. • Mix well and knead the mixture to make a smooth dough. • Cover it with a wet cloth and leave for 1 hour. • In a bowl, combine the meat, onions, salt and pepper and mix well, then set aside. • Sprinkle table top with remaining flour and place the dough in the middle. • Sprinkle a little flour on top and roll out with a rolling pin, trying to make the dough as thin as possible. • Cut out 6 cm squares and put 1 tsp. of filling into each one. • Bring the four corners of the dough together by squeezing them with your fingers. • Arrange them in an oven-pan and brush with melted margarine, then bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until they’re lightly browned. • Pour meat stock over them and cover, continuing to cook until the moisture is completely absorbed by the mantı. • While this is cooking, combine yogurt and garlic. • Melt margarine in a separate saucepan and stir in the crushed red or chili pepper, then let it simmer for 5 minutes. • Remove the mantı from the oven and divide into 6 portions. • Spoon over the yogurt mixture, drizzle the margarine pepper sauce on top, and garnish with dried mint and dill. • Serve immediately and enjoy! –by Dalene Heck; photos by Pete Heck