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A Brief History of Aphrodisiac Cookbooks

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  Lust on the Menu

Try this at home... (Click on image)

Today’s bookstore shelves are filled with dozens of tasty tomes that tantalize readers with the promise of better sex. And while many are filled with great recipe ideas, not every one is guaranteed to “amp up the libido.” (Although some of the sexy food photography alone in these books could give porn a run for its money.)

So what’s the truth? Do any of these “magic” foods have the potential to increase your stamina or your enjoyment of the sexual act? That depends. Foods containing high levels of zinc, such as oysters, can be beneficial for male performance. Chocolate triggers similar reactions in the brain to being in love. But by and large, most of the foods we think of as having aphrodisiac properties are shaped like genitalia. Make a point to eat something that looks like a sexual organ, and your date will surely get the hint.

Our obsession with finding aphrodisiac foods has been driving our appetites for millennia, and chances are the pursuit won’t fade away any time soon. Perhaps part of the allure is that we hope someday to find a culinary “magic bullet,” a food that guarantees certain pleasure in an uncertain world.

Do oysters tickle the ruby pearl? (Photo by Dominic Morel)

The act of eating itself is a ritual that almost always accompanies courtship. Whether you plan a date over coffee or dinner, chances are that food will play some part in any of your upcoming romantic plans. Ultimately, it comes down to this: Good food will always be a turn-on, a sort of pre-foreplay where the brain’s dopamine centers are fully engaged and priming your body for what’s to come.

Whether the meal you share is oysters or cheese steaks, you’ll have an amazing night ahead of you if you are really into the person you are dining with. Food can help set the atmosphere...You need to be the one to seal the deal.

(A VERY special thanks to Jess Nevins for assistance with research)


Great article and associated images! I tend to think that any foods that improve health ultimately improve sexual health. That being said, some things might really improve libido. Celery, for example, has a compound in it that, when consumed by men, has been shown scientifically to act like a pheremone to women. I'll have to pull up my research notes on this one, but a great resource is
And I have that book Inter Courses.


Delicious piece! I'm a live-to-eat (among other things) person, and believe the smells and tastes -- the overall sensuality -- of eating and cooking are undeniable. Depending on what time of month it is, I might find myself borderline-aroused watching hubcap-sized pork chops floating in the deep fryer on "Man Vs. Food."

An aside: How would one spell that noise Homer Simpson makes?


Lust. Hunger. Thirst.  
More than just basic human needs designed to perpetuate the species, these complex motivations can lead us to the edge of obsession or euphoria, fulfillment or torment, despair or ecstasy. Without satisfaction, these desires can consume our lives. SexIs takes a closer look at the intersection between food and sex. What makes us lust for food? What foods increase our hunger for sex? In what ways do we creatively and compulsively feed our appetites? It’s food for thought.

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