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LGLWSM Newsletter, Issue #009 - Aphrodisiacs For Valentines Day
February 14, 2008

For Valentines Day, I thought the subject of aphrodisiac foods sounded simply delicious! Who can resist? Even if you’re single like me, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the seductive tastes of savory dishes!

Trying different foods is not something I do very often, but when it comes to vegetables or fruits, bring them on! As a general rule of thumb, try to experience healthy new foods or dishes when you can with just a sprinkle of fat and junk food on the side.

Valentines Day is well known for flowers, jewelry, and candy seduction however, how about trying an aphrodisiac? (Of course, you don’t need a holiday to try them!)

When you eat different foods, you should be able to recognize the taste by your taste buds, not by your eyes. When was the last time you really tasted the food that you ate? How often do we eat just because we’re hungry and not really pay attention to the quality or the actual taste of what we’re eating?

One food I love to eat that I don’t eat often enough is simply artichoke leaves. Have you ever tried them? If you haven’t, you’re really missing out. You have to take your time when you eat them as there is not a lot of fleshy meat on the leaves. However, the experience of eating them dipped in lemon and butter is not only fun to do, but is also very exotic and errotic.

OK, enough about that. Lets get down to the nitty gritty. An aphrodisiac is defined as: any form of stimulation thought to arouse sexual excitement. Aphrodisiacs may be classified in two principal groups: (1) psycho-physiological (visual, tactile, olfactory, aural) and (2) internal (stemming from food, alcoholic drinks, drugs, love potions, medical preparations).

Despite long-standing literary and popular interest in internal aphrodisiacs, little scientific studies of them have been made. Most literary works on the subject are little more than unscientific compilations of traditional or folkloric material. Of the various foods to which aphrodisiac powers are traditionally attributed, fish, vegetables, and spices have been the most popular throughout history.

Aphrodisiacs were first sought out as a remedy for various sexual anxieties including fears of inadequate performance and as a need to increase fertility. Procreation was an important moral and religious issue in those times and aphrodisiacs were sought to insure both male and female fertility.

Why Certain Foods?

In ancient times a distinction was made between a substance that increased fertility and one that simply increased someone’s sex drive. Nutrition was an important aspect. Fast foods were not available. It was believed that undernourishment created a loss of libido as well as reduced fertility rates. Substances that represented seeds or semen (such as bulbs, eggs, and snails), were thought to have sexual powers. Other types of foods were considered stimulating by their mere resemblance to genitalia.

The ancient list of aphrodisiacs included Anise, basil, carrot, salvia, gladiolus root, orchid bulbs, pistachio nuts, rocket (arugula), sage, sea fennel, turnips, skink flesh (a type of lizard - yummy!) and river snails. (don't gross me out~)

Since this list is somewhat limited and river snails are hard to come by, artichokes seemed to be something that also has aphrodisiac qualities, is readily available, and can be very seductive especially when eaten with a mate. If it’s been a while since you last tried them, now might be a good time to try them again!

And although artichokes did not make the list, here are some interesting facts about them that make them seem rather sexy indeed!

According to an Aegean legend and praised in song by the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the first artichoke was a lovely young girl who lived on the island of Zinari. The god, Zeus was visiting his brother Poseidon one day when, as he emerged from the sea, he spied a beautiful young mortal woman. She did not seem frightened by the presence of a god, and Zeus seized the opportunity to seduce her. He was so pleased with the girl, who's name was Cynara, that he decided to make her a goddess, so that she could be nearer to his home on Olympia. Cynara agreed to the promotion, and Zeus anticipated the trysts to come, whenever his wife Hera was away. However, Cynara soon missed her mother and grew homesick. She snuck back to the world of mortals for a brief visit. After she returned, Zeus discovered this un-goddess-like behavior. Enraged, he hurled her back to earth and transformed her into the plant we know as the artichoke.

More interesting facts about the artichoke...

In the 1920s, Ciro Terranova "Whitey" (1889-1938), a member of the mafia and known as the "Artichoke King," began his monopoly of the artichoke market by purchasing all the produce shipped to New York from California at $6 a crate. He created a produce company and resold the artichokes at 30 to 40 percent profit. Not only did he terrorize distributors and produce merchants, he even launched an attack on the artichoke fields from Montara to Pescadero, hacking down the plants with machetes in the dead of night. These "artichoke wars" led the Mayor or New York, Fiorello La Guardia, to declare "the sale, display, and possession" of artichokes in New York illegal. Mayor La Guardia publicly admitted that he himself loved the vegetable and after only one week he lifted the ban.

From the "Book of Nature," by Dr. Bartolomeo Boldo in 1576: "it has the virtue of . . . provoking Venus for both men and women; for women making them more desirable, and helping the men who are in these matters rather tardy."

Cooked Artichoke leaves - How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

1. If the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves, take a kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the leaves. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke.

2. Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.

3. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.

4. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, but some people like to eat them. Alternatively you can cut off the stems and peel the outside layers which is more fibrous and bitter and cook the stems along with the artichokes.

5. Rinse the artichokes in running cold water.

6. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, and a bay leaf (this adds wonderful flavor to the artichokes). Insert a steaming basket. Add the artichokes. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 35 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. Note: artichokes can also be cooked in a pressure cooker (about 20 minutes cooking time). How to Eat an Artichoke

Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot, but I think they are much better hot. They are served with a dip, either melted butter or mayonaise. My favorite dip is butter and lemon. Another idea is to soften butter (but don't melt it) and mix in some garlic salt to taste. A hot artichoke leaf will melt the butter just a little when you scoop the butter onto it, and it's just perfect. You can mash roasted garlic into the butter with the same results!

1. Pull off outer petals, one at a time.

2. Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce. Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.

3. Continue until all of the petals are removed.

4. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the "choke") covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.

To give credit where credit is due, the recipe for how to cook artichokes was taken from here:

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

To make the meal complete, add a splash of red meat to the menu by serving a small tenderloin or flank steak or London Broil. (If you serve the latter two, remember to cook them to medium rare only and cut against the grain when serving.)

Then add chocolate for dessert. Dip fresh strawberries into melted chocolate or just eat chocolates right out of the box!

The Aztecs referred to chocolate as 'nourishment of the Gods'. Chocolate contains chemicals thought to effect neurotransmitters in the brain and a related substance to caffeine called theobromine. Chocolate contains more antioxidants than does red wine. The secret for passion is to combine the two. Try a glass of Cabernet with a bit of dark chocolate for a sensuous treat and awaken your seductive nature!

Happy Valentines Day!

Stay Sweet and Be Beautiful!


P.S. I meant to have this newsletter out yesterday but my son has had a medical emergency. Please forgive me and remember, you can be seductive anytime of the year. If you didn't have time to get together with your mate today, try this idea for the weekends. Weekends were made for love!

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