AUTHOR: Chef Danielle Steckler
ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARI SAPERSTEIN
The relationship between food, love and sex has a long-standing history. For centuries, humans have utilized the power of natural foods to heal, enliven the senses, ignite desire, and even stimulate passion. Whether celebrating self love or cooking for friends and lovers, here are a few delicious (and easy) aphrodisiac-inspired recipes by The Sex Ed’s favorite chef, Danielle Steckler!
Aphrodisiac Lore From Around the Globe
The origin of the word “aphrodisiac” comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexual love, beauty, desire, pleasure, and procreation, whose nectar of choice was said to be sticky, sweet honey. It’s no wonder that we’ve carried these sexy sensibilities to define the treats that spark arousal!
Humans have been experimenting with the effect of edibles on sex as early as 7000 B.C., where in Persia, couples were advised by elders to drink mead, a fermented honey beverage, every day for a month after marriage to stimulate sexual arousal and establish the roots of a successful marriage. This ritual has evolved to become known as the modern day “honeymoon.”
One of the oldest texts (circa 2600 B.C.) that details the use of aphrodisiacs is a book on Chinese medicine called Huang-Ti Nei-Ching, also known by its Western name as, “Handbooks of Sex.” The author, Yellow Emperor Huang-ti, is said to have regularly consumed a mixture of 22 herbs with wine in order to service his 1,200 wives and mistresses. Mathematically speaking, he had sex with at least ten women every night! (Although, it is interesting to note that he may have refrained from ejaculating in order to preserve his life force energy or “qi” which was said to be drained by expending semen.)
Other ancient Chinese aphrodisiac ingredients included ground seahorse, clove, almond, ginseng, pepper and fennel. On the more exotic side, potions for sexual stimulation were documented as including peculiar ingredients like: scorpion, placenta, the menstrual fluid of young girls and the male reproductive organs of moths.
Some Sensual Snacks to Try
Oysters have long been labeled a love drug. Cleopatra loved oysters and legend has it that Venetian lothario, Casanova, ate dozens of oysters per day, seducing a vestal virgin by seductively sliding an oyster from his mouth into hers.
Chemically, oysters also improve human dopamine levels, which tends to boost libido. Oysters are high in zinc, which is a vital trace mineral needed for healthy sperm and testosterone production. Enjoy!
Grilled Oysters with Compound Cannabutter
12 shucked oysters
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons of capers, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of parsley
3.5 grams (1/8) of decarboxylated marijuana*
½ cup of butter
*Can be prepared without cannabis. Learn more about the relationship between cannabis and sex if you want to try the recipe as-is!
To decarboxylate your weed (heating it to release the THC) finely grind it and place on a parchment lined baking sheet in the oven at 230 degrees for 30 minutes or until you can smell it.
On a slow and low burner melt your butter, then add the decarboxylated marijuana. You want to cook this at no higher than 200 degrees for 3 hours. If you have a slow cooker this works great, set it to low or 160 degrees. If not, a stovetop burner works just as well, but you need to keep a closer eye on it. You don’t want the temperature to rise over 200 degrees as the high heat will burn off the THC and CBD.
With finished cannabutter, add the lemon zest, capers, garlic and parsley and let cool.
Set up your grill or broiler to medium high. Shuck your oysters and top with your compound cannabutter. Cook for five minutes or until bubbling. Serve with hot sauce and a lemon wedge.
Pomegranate lore ties this unique and lush fruit to sex, love, flesh and fertility (all those seeds!). The seeds are packed with powerful antioxidants, which increase testosterone and virility, and help us to look and feel youthful and sprightly.
Roasted Delicata Squash with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate
1 delicata squash or something similar
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of chili flakes
Pinch of salt
Freshly cracked pepper
8 ounces of marinated or plain goat cheese
Slice your baguette into ½” pieces horizontally, making 8-10 slices. Brush with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes until crisp and edges are browned.
Slice the squash in half and remove the seeds and stringy stuff. Slice into half moons about 3/4 “ thick. Toss in a bowl with the remaining olive oil, salt and chili flakes. Place on parchment lined sheet tray at 400 in the oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Once the baguette has cooled spread the goat cheese, top with the roasted squash and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
Aphrodisiacs included in this recipe are: vanilla (creates arousal through aroma), cardamom (high concentration of compound 1, 8 cineole which increases cerebral blood flow and releases muscular tension), and ginger (increases blood flow to sexual organs). This recipe is a perfect dessert for the fall and early winter when quince and pears are at their sweetest and in season!
Quince Poached in Pomegranate Juice
2 lbs of quince or hard pear
3 ½ cups pomegranate juice
5 ½ tablespoons sugar
2” piece of ginger peeled and sliced
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, inside seeds scraped out, keep pods
1 orange (zest and juice)
2 crushed cardamom pods
1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
mint leaves for garnish
Peel, core and quarter the quince. Place it in heavy saucepan with the pomegranate juice, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, ginger slices, orange zest, orange juice, and star anise. Once the pot comes to a boil, cover and let it simmer for 20 minutes until the quince is fork tender. If using pears, check at 15 minutes for doneness.
Use a slotted spoon to remove quince and set aside. Keep the lid to the pan off, increase the heat and reduce to liquid until mixture is thick and syrupy. You should have about 5 tablespoons worth. Remove the vanilla pod and star anise.
Just before serving, return quince to the pana and warm it in the reduced liquid. Gently whip heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of sugar until its think. You don’t want to fully whip the cream-- it should be thinner than usual! If it gets too thick, add more heavy cream to loosen the texture. Plate two quarters of quince per person with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. Top with pomegranate seeds and torn mint. Enjoy!
Dark chocolate, as you may have heard, is another popular aphrodisiac. This sensuous treat was used by Inca and Aztec cultures as a sexual aid. Mythology dictates that the great Aztec ruler, Montezuma, consumed copious amounts of hot chocolate everyday to maintain his voracious sexual appetite! (Biologically, dark chocolate happens to contain anadamide, which works in the brain to increase dopamine production, making you feel gooooood all over.)
The recipe below also includes figs, a historical symbol of fertility (and were Cleopatra’s favorite food!), prized as a luscious shapely fruit for its resemblance to the female sex organs.
Figs and Citrus with Shaved Dark Chocolate
4 oranges (mix of navel, blood and cara cara oranges for color)
6 fresh figs
3 tablespoons of finishing olive oil
1 ounce of dark chocolate (70% or higher cacao)
1 teaspoon/to taste of flakey sea salt (Maldon)
Cut figs into six wedges. Cut the tops and bottoms off of the oranges and place on a cutting board on one of the cut ends. Working your way around, slice off, from the top down, the remaining peel of the orange to expose the bare fruit. You want to get all of the white bitter pith off so you are just left with the juicy, sweet fruit inside. Then slice the orange horizontally into ½” slices. Arrange the slices on a platter. If using different varieties, I would plate it darkest to lightest, slightly overlapping. Tuck the fig wedges throughout the oranges. Shave the chocolate over the fruit with a micro plane or rough end of your box grater. Drizzle with olive oil and salt.
Bon appetit and happy cooking!