For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share an excerpt from my forthcoming book Vegetable Love: 105 Erotic Recipes from Artichoke to Zucchini.
We’ve come to think of aphrodisiacs as Viagra — either that or something kind of naughty. I think they’re just fun. The most powerful aphrodisiacs are available without a prescription — they’re fruits and vegetables, spices and herbs, nuts and seeds. Maybe you’re into vegan, maybe you’re not, doesn’t matter. We all need a little sparkle, and that’s what these recipes offer. They emit a vibe without a vibrator.
Maybe it starts when you see the ingredients in their ripe and raw state — have you ever seen a banana blossom? Stallions should be so well endowed. Or maybe it starts when you taste them. The flavor starts in your mouth, flows all the way into you and doesn’t stop at your stomach, it chimes all the way through you, you feel it in your throat, heart, gut and the fun places further south.
What do I mean by sensuality? Let’s look at four examples:
Her breath is like honey spiced with cloves
Her mouth delicious as a ripened mango
To press kisses on her skin is to taste the lotus
The deep cave of her navel hides a store of spices
What pleasure lies beyond, the tongue knows, but cannot speak of it.
The proper way to eat a fig, in society,
Is to split it in four, holding it by the stump,
And open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied, heavy-petalled four-petalled flower.
Then you throw away the skin
Which is just like a four-sepalled calyx,
After you have taken off the blossom, with your lips.
But the vulgar way
Is just to put your mouth to the crack, and take out the flesh in one bite.
Every fruit has its secret.
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
Sustain me with raisins;
refresh me with apples,
for I am sick with love.
She turned her head and her eyes met Pedro’s. It was then she understood how dough feels when it is plunged into hot oil. The heat that invaded her body was so real she was afraid she would start to bubble — her face, her stomach, her heart, her breasts.
Okay, maybe now you’re getting a sense of what sensuality is. You read the words with your eyes but you feel their power in your body.
The first quote was written in 12th century India. The fig poem was written by British author D.H. Lawrence in 1924. The third is from Song of Solomon in the Old Testament and the last is from Laura Esquivel’s 1989 novel, Like Water for Chocolate. All these texts from all over the world and from all across time compare the human body and human love with something
delicious. They conjure a sensual world, slow, sweet and golden as honey, a world that seems centuries away from where we are now, when you can get porn off the internet.
Sensuality is not porn. Porn is by its nature fake and exploitative, it’s a bait and switch. Sensuality is real, it is earthy, and it is eternal. Sensuality has nothing to do with age. It’s life force, energy, what the Chinese call chi. It is everything you and apples and figs and mangos are. These fruits and many more foods besides all earn a place on my curated list of the best plant-based foods for desire and sensuality.
Some of my favorites, like broccoli and blueberries, aren’t even on it, antioxidant-rich and madly edible though they are. To make the cut, the food needs to boost body and libido by meeting at least one of these criteria:
- light up the brain’s pleasure centers, by triggering dopamine or serotonin release
- balance or produce hormones
- promote physical well being by increasing circulation or otherwise supports the body
- provide instant pleasure by its fragrance, taste or texture
5) be recognized and touted as pleasure stimulant in literature, botany or folklore
6) suggest the human body by its provocative shape
Many of the foods on my list offer a fantastic combo pack of some or even all of the above. They grow all over the world and throughout the year. They put us in touch with our own rhythms and because they’re local and seasonal, put us back in touch with the rhythms of the earth. Changing what you eat seasonally is like working your way through the Kama Sutra of food — it keeps things interesting. So be promiscuous with what you eat — it sparks our senses and stokes our desire.
This is proof to me Mother Nature wants to feed you well, show you a good time and help you be your best, most glowing self.