Seduction at the table
Cleopatra Cooking & Casanova Spirits
by Carlo della Torre
Neither Cleopatra nor Casanova left any recipes to their descendants which they used to prepare their dinners. Unfortunately.
Maybe the big masters of seduction didn't believe in special ingredients or maybe they were so jealous of them that they carried their secret formulas to the grave.
We'll never know, but we can wonder (with a bit of cynicism) what the Queen of Egypt and the nobleman from Venice would have used if they had been our contemporaries.
Maybe they would have started by posing the question: "Do ingredients and drinks really exist that can make you crazy?"
In folklore there are hundreds of ingredients with aphrodisiac qualities, but only a few have passed rigid testing in the lab.
Spices like pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger and cloves are famous for having aphrodisiac powers.
Pharmacists, not really convinced, explain that spices, full of irritant substances that are eliminated by urination, provoke a sudden inflow of blood to the genital area. The consequences are easy to guess!
According to journalist Nancy Clark, an expert on the private lives of Hollywood stars, chili pepper helped Marlon Brando solve "a few problems" in the pre-Viagra era. It seems to be more effective when applied locally (that is, not related to cooking) after which it irritates and makes blood rush to the cavernous part of the penis. It seems,however, that if you "overdose", you'll take off like a missile....to the hospital!
Other ingredients are thought to be aphrodisiacs,even in small amounts, for their energetic powers or their substances that enhance feelings of lust and desire.
They say that Madame de Pompadour, Louis XIV's favourite, used to drink one hot chocolate a day to cure her frigidity. Casanova used chocolate candy to seduce women who were particularly difficult.
Chocolate has become popular in recent years as an aphrodisiac. In the eighties, psycho-pharmacists Klein and Liebowitz discovered that chocolate contains feniletilamine, a substance similar to amphetamine, which boosts feelings of sexual desire.
In fact, according to some American research, our organism naturally secretes the same molecule when we're in love, which can explain why we suddenly see life through rose-colored glasses. Chocolate (apart from the calories) has no contraindications- everybody likes it and it makes you feel good. As an aphrodisiac, we can say the usual: "If you believe in it, it'll work."
Henry IV, before seducing, used to eat a clove of garlic and a piece of onion, with a sip of Armagnac (for good luck). Garlic and onions are rich in sexual hormones and maybe because of this chemical characteristic they're considered to be aphrodisiacs. Of course the olfactory side-effects could easily neutralize the highly praised "technical advantages". Cleopatra and Casanova, who in those times were perhaps more tolerant about odors, might have just "closed one nostril".
According to Prof. Michele Carruba, an italian pharmacologist, corn-meal mush mixed with corn and yellow gnocchi, the same torture every day, can increase sexual desire. It works because corn decreases the serotonin level, causing the antagonist dopamine to prevail, which fuels the fire of lust. (We'd really like to believe this but it doesn't seem very seductive forcing your partner to go on this diet!)
So let's just forget about the miraculous ingredients of their kitchen and pay a visit to the Casanova's wine cellar. All in all, we still feel lust and sexual passion just like our ancestors, although maybe with a few more problems; evolution has repressed these feelings somewhat.
Alcohol loosens them, sets ancestral instincts free and opens us up. The Romans used to say: "In vino veritas" (and the truth is that the desire isn't lacking yet), but the catch is, in the right quantity. Shakespeare wrote about alcohol: "It arouses the desire, but makes the act impossible."
Gynecologists say that in large quantity alcohol decreases vaginal lubrication and blocks orgasm.
We can say (and we're sure of not disappointing the great masters), that in the right dose, alcohol is the only substance that can perform the miracle!
If you are a teetotaler, you might be satisfied with some cocktails that we discovered in a magazine, although we can't guarantee the outcome as we haven't tried them....
One banana, half a glass of melon juice, a glass of papaya juice, half a teasspoon of clove powder. Shake and possibly drink.
Half a cup of fresh grapefruit juice, half a cup of apple juice, half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir and possibly drink.