Valentine’s is the time of year when thoughts of a more amorous nature come to mind, and food is a valuable tool in any Valentine’s story. Which brings me to the subject of aphrodisiacs. So what are these things which are said to stimulate the sexual appetite? Moreover, do they work?
Alcohol is said to remove inhibitions, though not necessarily to improve performance. Then there are various potions and concoctions found in South America and in North Africa which, when powdered, do all sorts of naughty things to private parts. The less said about that the better. Then there is the question of volumes. I have just returned from a wedding in Jaipur and can’t imagine that any of that delicious, heavy food did anything to arouse the bride and groom…or anybody else for that matter. I certainly don’t feel sexy after Chinese or Thai either—fish sauce, garlic and soya can’t by any stretch of the imagination stimulate anything.
I think the French have got it down to a fine art; long dinners with interesting small courses, interspersed with enough wine and charm. I can’t speak for the opposite sex but it works for most women, I think. Then there is the psychological effect of certain foods. If you eat oysters or figs (reported to do the trick) or luxury foods which by virtue of the fact that they are expensive and a symbol of the good life (caviar is a case in point), they might work. If any of this is true, then what happens to vegetarians? Are they left to endure a life without romance and love? Surely not. If there were particular foods proven, when ingested, to produce a flood of desire, they would surely have been marketed to the hilt by now!
Food for love: Do figs work like a charm? There’s only one way to find out.
This may sound like mush, but my conclusion is that whatever you choose for Valentine’s Day has to be caring and thoughtful. Romance is so much more lasting and memorable. Then take whatever follows as the cherry.
This is a dessert recipe which works for me. It’s light and delicious, and takes a little time and attention. And you can let me know if figs actually do work.
Figs Poached With Red Wine and Tea
300g dried figs or 500g fresh figs
¾ cup brandy
¾ cup dry red wine
½ cup honey
2 tbsp chunky orange marmalade
1 cup of strong tea, unsweetened, without milk
Juice and zest of two limes
½ tsp grated ginger
2-inch piece cinnamon
A few drops of vanilla extract/essence
Wash the figs in warm water, drain and place them in a bowl. Pour in the brandy, cover and leave overnight (if the figs are dry). Next morning, pour the brandy and figs into a saucepan. Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, until the fruit is soft. The syrup should be like a thickish sauce. Serve the figs with a little syrup and some whipped cream on the side.
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