People give careful thought to the food they choose for a romantic Valentine’s evening. They consider food that evokes the spirit of the holiday, food that inspires or enhances the romantic mood. The aphrodisiac, which takes its name from the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, is a food or other consumable which increases amorous ardor. In many cases, the history of most aphrodisiacs is tied to folk legends and ancient traditions. The science surrounding aphrodisiacs is murky, but the idea remains appealing. And when those aphrodisiacs are also fresh fruit, they will also be providing health, energy and nutrition.
Apples have a very strong tie to love and temptation in the western world. When the Greek goddess of strife decided to sow discord among the other goddesses, she did so with a golden apple. The forbidden fruit containing the knowledge of good and evil is often depicted as an apple. The fruit poisoned to make a certain young royal fall into deep sleep, awoken only by true love’s kiss? You know the answer. Apples recur in storylines throughout human civilization as a symbol of beauty, knowledge, and especially temptation. Red apples in shape and color even resemble hearts. Which is all without mentioning the many health benefits of apples, rich in Vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Papaya’s vibrant color and luscious texture make it an exciting fruit for any occasion but it also has medicinal history as a romance aid. Unripe papaya has long been considered an effective aphrodisiac for women, and the seeds are consumed in the belief that they have contraceptive properties. Papaya is also full of provitamin A carotenoids, which combat aging cells.
The story goes that Aztec families would keep their daughters shut inside throughout the avocado harvesting season due to the power of avocado as an aphrodisiac. Avocados are helpful in male hormone production and full of beneficial potassium and monounsaturated fats, which help reduce cholesterol and pack important antioxidants.
Indian culture pays great respect to the mango and its romantic prowess—mango leaves are hung above the door to the bride’s new home as a fertility charm. Mangoes are also believed to increase male virility. The romantic benefits of the mango have even been addressed in an episode of Seinfeld, where mangoes are shown to raise the libido of several characters. Mangoes also happen to be rich in several essential vitamins and minerals.
Philippine legend tells of a beautiful girl meeting a strange man in the wild and falling deeply in love with him. He admits to her that he is a spirit not of her world and must soon leave her forever, but their attachment is so strong that a part of him is left behind, in some versions his heart and in others his hands. The forlorn girl buries the remains in the ground and from this remnant sprouts the first banana tree, a token of their enduring love. With their suggestive shape, sweet flavor and creamy texture, bananas make a great Valentine’s dish on their own or paired with chocolate, caramel or other delectables. They also happen to be a great source of potassium and contain bromeliad enzyme, which may increase male libido.
Pineapple’s spectacular and bold appearance made it a luxury throughout the world. King Louis XIV of France was so excited to try one that he bit into the outer shell of the pineapple, much to his misfortune. Historically, pineapple was consumed as a treatment for impotence, with its content of vitamin C, manganese and thiamine. Pineapple is a versatile fruit, easy to incorporate into drinks, salads, or used as a juice marinade in cooking.
The pomegranate shares with the apple an historical tie to temptation. The Greek story of Persephone famously depicts Persephone becoming forever tied to Hades through her consumption of just a few pomegranate seeds. Powerful food indeed. Pomegranate is another fruit whose notable color lends itself to the holiday celebrating love. The bright flavor of pomegranate seeds, combined with their distinctive red hues and high antioxidant content make pomegranate a great choice for a Valentine’s Day meal.
Almonds are renowned for their arousing odor—the smell of almonds is said to increase libido in women. According to the Almond Board of California, almonds were popularly used in Roman weddings, and like rice were rained on new couples as a fertility charm. The health benefits of almonds and other nuts are well documented, as they lower cholesterol and strengthen the heart.
There are a number explanations for the term ‘honeymoon’ that tie it to the use of honey by newlyweds as an aphrodisiac. Though these stories seem to be a modern creation, there is a history of honey’s ties to sex in antiquity. Honey was a common offering to ancient Egyptian fertility god Min and was recommended by Greek physician Hippocrates to boost libido. Honey’s decadent texture and rich flavor pair it well with Valentine’s Day and with desserts generally. Honey bears the distinction of being decadently sweet and with a syrupy texture but also full of nutrients, containing boron, which promotes efficient estrogen use, and vitamin B, which boosts testosterone output.
Re-examine these foods as libido-enhancers, and if the effects of their consumption are purely psychic, well, they still taste great! If you’d like to put together an aphrodisiac-themed fruit basket, Manhattan Fruitier provides the means, with our BYOB (Build Your Own Basket). Happy Valentine’s Day!