A story of love, loss and second chances by Nikita Singh, releasing this Valentine’s Day.
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A sure-fire Chocolate Mousse recipe plus a ready reckoner on aphrodisiacs or ‘love foods’ – in time for Valentine’s Day.
By Lavanya Donthamshetty
It’s February, Valentine’s Day is around the corner, bringing with it a glut of balloons, cards and any other stuff that can be red or pink. What better topic for this month’s edition of Eatopia than aphrodisiacs? Some say that aphrodisiacs are nothing but myth and others that it isn’t anything more than biochemistry and endorphin release but what’s the fun in that? So let us ignore the naysayers and crack on!
Aphrodisiacs are meant to appeal to all of your senses but for the purpose of this article, we’ll talk about those that are ingested. That cornerstone-of-love tome, the Kamasutra, has whole chunks dedicated to aphrodisiacs but these vary from the weird to the downright toxic. So let us stick to the safe and yummy, shall we?
Ask any random group of women and their number one will be chocolate. In fact, mention the word ‘aphrodisiac’ and chocolate is the first one that will pop into most people’s minds. What is not to like about this gooey, creamy concoction? A good quality dark chocolate is one of life’s ultimate pleasures, one meant to be savoured in small doses. So why does chocolate hold so many people in its thrall? If you go by the science, then chocolate releases endorphins that give you a heady rush like none other. But personally, I bet it has something to do with its melting point – our body temperature.
What goes best with chocolates? Strawberries! Dip these luscious berries in melted chocolate and that is a double whammy! Just look at a berry – its colour, shape, texture – if a strawberry doesn’t embody a Valentine, I don’t know what does! Statistics show that a chocolate fountain, with baskets of luscious strawberries surrounding it, is one of the most used kits in bachelorette parties. No surprises there!
If strawberry is not your fruit of choice, then a pomegranate comes a very close second in the fruity aphrodisiac stakes. In fact, according to the Ancient Greeks, this gorgeous fruit was the symbol of the Goddess Aphrodite. There are even some scholars that say that pomegranate was the fruit of temptation in the Garden of Eden, not the apple. Whether or not that is true, the tiny red pearls of the pomegranate with their glistening skin and sharp juice definitely float my boat!
Why do you think the period after the wedding is called a ‘honeymoon’? Apparently, long, long ago in Persia, newlyweds drank mead, a fermented drink made from honey, for a month after they were married.
Continuing with the sweet theme brings us nicely to honey. Why do you think the period after the wedding is called a ‘honeymoon’? Apparently, long, long ago in Persia, newlyweds drank mead, a fermented drink made from honey, for a month after they were married. Honey has got vitamins that help both in producing testosterone and using estrogen. But more interestingly, mead is supposed to help people ‘get in the mood’.
If sweet isn’t your thing, then what about chillies? Believe it or not, the zing in the chillies is perfect for increasing your body temperature and making you feel tingly all over. And the rush you get after biting into a chilli? It all adds up, it does!
Even some of the spices we use are pumped full of the good stuff that help them make excellent aphrodisiacs. Cardamom, nutmeg and saffron are some excellent examples. A little of them goes a long way – makes you wonder why we always use them in our sweet dishes, eh?
Walnuts, those ugly looking things, are superfoods that, besides being rich in proteins, good fats and omega-3, are also excellent aphrodisiacs. In fact, ancient Romans used to throw walnuts over newlyweds’ heads instead of rice for just this reason – let’s hope they peeled them first!
Being a vegetarian, I never thought much about oysters in any context but I changed my mind in a hurry after reading Anthony Capella’s The Wedding Officer. After reading about the female protagonist Livia Pertini’s attempts to teach Captain James Gould about the sensuality of food, I am sure no one will ever view food – or oysters – the same way again. Casanova is rumoured to have downed these by the dozens and that is the biggest endorsement an aphrodisiac can get, I think.
After reading about the female protagonist Livia Pertini’s attempts to teach Captain James Gould about the sensuality of food, I am sure no one will ever view food – or oysters – the same way again.
So what do you think? Do you think aphrodisiacs are just hogwash? Or do you have a tried and tested one? Share your feelings in the comments area. And just so we don’t send you empty-handed, here’s a tried and tested recipe for a sublime Chocolate mousse. Invest in the best quality chocolate you can and then tell us if it is as good as you’ve eaten elsewhere.
225 gms plain chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp water
30 gm butter, cut into chunks
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (or 3/4 tsp white vinegar) 55 gm sugar
125 ml double cream (make sure it is cold)
Place the chocolate and water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir it slowly till it is melted and smooth. Take the pan off the heat and beat in the butter. Drop in the egg yolks one by one, beating constantly. Blend well and then put them aside to cool.
Take a clean bowl and beat the egg whites until they become soft peaks. Sprinkle the cream of tartar, add sugar slowly and continue till stiff peaks form. Fold some of it gently into the chocolate mixture, taking care not to overmix, so as to loosen the chocolate.
In another bowl, whip the cold double cream to soft peaks. Spoon some of it into the chocolate-egg mixture and fold gently. Fold the rest of the egg whites and cream slowly.
Spoon the mixture into 6 small pots. Cover them with cling film and chill for three hours before serving.
Mother, writer, foodie, margarita lover, Lavanya is the exception to the rule that women are
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