Thursday, February 10, 2011
My first memory of spice came with a Bombay sandwich, back home in India. And no, I didn't want to kiss the guy who prepared it for me. It was delectable though, with two slices of soft white bread moistened with butter and a fiery coriander chutney, on which sat evenly cut slices of tomato, potato, beetroot and onions. I barely knew the word aphrodisiac, let alone that foods like chillies could put both the mind and body ‘in the mood’. So I couldn't say if it stirred anything inside of me, but I did enjoy sharing more than one sandwich with my husband all those years ago.
When you think of aphrodisiacs, the first thought is oysters. But coming from the land of spices (and the Kamasutra) we take the fact for granted that we eat these ‘romance inducing’ ingredients every day. Nutmeg, chillies, and cloves – we have them all in our spice cupboard. My mother used ginger, considered good for women's blood flow and temperament, daily. Cinnamon, used to perfume rice dishes and desserts was also a favourite. Once used by the Queen of Sheba to attract King Solomon, the warming spice is known to increase sexual desire – and historical references proves it obviously works.
When I travelled to Thailand, I quickly got addicted to their spicy papaya salad, which comes chock-full of dried chilli flakes, with the perfect balance of sweet and sour dressing. Served on small plates at makeshift carts along the streets, it was refreshing and left a gentle heat on the tongue. Now I'm not complaining because some scientists have theorized that when one consumes chillies it creates the same reactions as when making love, such as, increased heart rate, palpitations and perspiration. And it gets the 'feel good' endorphins going as well. Now who can argue with that?
One of the joys of living in a culturally diverse country like Canada is the ability to find a veritable banquet of cuisines from all over the world. Japanese sushi and sashimi are one of my favourites, and considered an aphrodisiac by some. But it’s not the freshest coral salmon and tuna that ignite the fire within. That distinction goes to the freshly grated horseradish that it’s often paired with it, which has long been considered one of nature’s best stimulants, and known to work particularly well for women.
Right now one of my favourite double-whammy aphrodisiacs is available in most grocery stores - Lindts' dark chocolate with chilli. A square melting on the tongue starts innocently enough with the rich cocoa turning creamy. But then you feel a slow heat emanating and you know that the chilli is starting to work as well. We know chocolate is commonly known as the ‘Food of the Gods’ and releases serotonin, a chemical that scientists say puts the consumer in a state of bliss. Add these amorous properties along with the chillie's heat (pardon the pun) and you should have your honey eating right out of your hands before the night is over.