Where to Find Aphrodisiacs on the Plate this Valentine’s Day
By Khristina Narizhnaya
Food’s ability to titillate is as mysterious as love itself. Napoleon ate truffles – the fungus, not the chocolate – before his rendez-vous with Josephine and in the Far East, men spike their teas and soups with powdered rhinoceros horn to induce virility, said Francine Segan, a food historian and lecturer.
Besides the three classic aphrodisiacs – oysters, chocolate and champagne – some other foods on Segan’s list known to excite include sensuously shaped fruits such as figs, peaches, pears, pomegranates and avocados; a variety of eggs – caviar, frog eggs, snail eggs; long, phallic vegetables such as sweet potatoes and cucumbers; and finally, spices including chili, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg which heat the body.
Although modern science does not support these claims, the mystical power of the right food served in the right ambiance is undeniable.
155 E. 52nd St.
Fugu, or the Japanese Puffer fish, has long aroused adventurous eaters around the world with the adrenaline rush many get from knowing how poisonous the fish is. At Nippon, however, the fish is prepared by a licensed specialist who renders the Fugu harmless. In Japan, Fugu is considered an especially auspicious delicacy for a young couple and supposedly aids in sexual performance because “it is a very strong fish,” explains Nobuyoshi Kuraoka, Nippon’s owner.
251 W. 50th St.
This Mexican eatery, named after a flowering plant known for its use in love potions, features a shocking Oaxacan erotic delicacy—the roasted grasshopper. “The interesting peppery aftertaste is almost like dark chocolate,” said Segan of the grasshopper aco, one of her favorites. Grasshoppers are considered aphrodisiacs because they contain some of the same chemicals as the Spanish fly, explains Segan. They are also a little spicy, so the heat felt in the mouth upon eating grasshoppers is supposed to heat up other parts of the body as well.
Allen & Delancey
115 Allen St.
This hot-listed dining destination is going all-out for Valentine’s Day with romantic décor of loose strands of gray pearls, lilies of the valley in mother of pearl vases, vintage Valentines hung from the ceiling and lavender roses scattered about the room. Chef Neil Ferguson’s prix-fixe menu specifically crafted for the occasion offers three courses for $75 featuring such sexy delicacies as braised fluke fillet with oyster veloute and caviar, egg pasta with truffles, wild mushrooms and Parmigiano Reggiano and roasted pear in honey parfait.
240 Central Park South
According to an old Mexican legend, the vanilla plant grew from the spilled blood of two slain star-crossed lovers, releasing an aroma better than anything anyone had ever smelled. Chef Odette Fada heats things up by putting vanilla in many of her winter dishes, notably the fettuccine with roasted cherry tomatoes and Pecorino cheese and the panna cotta. “Vanilla’s scent and flavor is believed to heighten sexual pleasure, especially for women,” said Segan.
36 W. 52nd St.
Valentine’s Day is all about roses, but this year, instead of giving them, why not eat one? Chef Michael Psilakis and chef de cuisine Michael Hall created the “Roses” tasting menu for $65 especially for Valentine’s Day. Roses are added to flavor aphrodisiac-filled dishes, such as the rose and passion fruit gastrique sauce served over white chocolate and parsnip fondue with savory black truffles, and the Maine Belon oysters with rose and ruby grapefruit gelee, sheep’s milk yogurt and candied grapefruit, served in the subtly hued pink and brown dining room.
264 Elizabeth St.
Edible flower bulbs were believed by ancient Greeks to stimulate passion, according to Lena Terkesithou, author of “Prized Ancient Recipes for Aphrodisiacs.” This year, Chef Colin Alevras presents lovers with the dahlia bulb, a locally grown rare winter specialty. “It’s pretty sexy, with its zippy flavor and ginger-like quality,” said Alevras. The dahlia bulbs, served raw to preserve the pungent flavor, accompany meats or are shaved into salads, gracing light meals designed to be shared.