Aphrodisiacs: the food for love

Throughout history food has been used to enhance sexual performance and create desire. NJOKI CHEGE spoke to two experienced chefs who offer easy and affordable ways to make your Valentine' meal a love feast

Forget the libido enhancing pills and over-priced concoctions to spruce up your sex life this Valentine’s Day. All you have to get creative with is your diet and a few delectables will work wonders in your sex life.

Aphrodisiacs are the food for the season — the food of love. An aphrodisiac, is an element, either natural or chemical, that stimulates a sexual desire.

Historically tried and tested, these foods have been known to give your sex hormones a much-needed nudge. Even in Biblical times, people used aphrodisiacs to spruce up their love lives. Remember in Genesis where an infertile Rachel trades mandrakes with her sister Leah? Every civilisation has some type of folklore concerning what makes a good aphrodisiac.

Some of the Farmont Norfolk aphrodisiac recipes. PHOTOS:MARTIN MUKANGU

There are three types of aphrodisiacs:

Herbal ones are found in plants such as ginseng, basil and cocoa.Chemical supplements are drugs such as alcohol or Viagra that can create desire in a person.

Foods like the magical oyster which resembles a woman’s sexual organ are also aphrodisiacs. Many foods contain vitamins and stimulants that can help.

The old myth is that if a food resembles a sexual organ, like oysters and bananas, then they are an excellent aphrodisiac.

Aphrodisiacs work by either affecting the brain or different parts of our body. For example, there may be an aphrodisiac that increases blood flow in the sex organs which then simulates desire.

Bring excitement

There are also types of aphrodisiacs that can make our bodies produce more of the natural chemicals associated with sexual desire.

Aphrodisiacs are meant to address the issues of infertility and sexual tension, but you can also use them to bring excitement in relationships.

According to Hubert Des Marais, the group Executive Chef of the Fairmont Norfolk, the most common and most available aphrodisiacs to consider this Valentine’s season includes fish, chicken and chocolate.

"You can make this Valentine’s special just by the food you serve. Seafood is the most common aphrodisiac," he says. He goes on to give an example of a complete three-course meal that your partner will find irresistible.

Says he: "You can begin with a starter of strawberry cocktail, a martini or a margarita, depending on your preferences. You can also have some passion fruit juice or just the fruit itself, but make sure you present it in a romantic way."

Other starters could include pumpkin or carrot soup; again it all depends on your preferences. For the main course, Chef Des Marais recommends seafood, which includes Nile perch or tilapia, all of which are locally available. However, there’s a catch: "It’s all about the spices," he says.

The magical recipe

So to spice up your food, go for tree tomato sauce, which is locally available.

Here’s how to make the sauce that will change your love life.

Blend several tree-tomatoes and thin it down with water or base oil. You need to thin it down because it is usually very thick.

This sauce is then served with the fish, which is rich in Omega-3, a proven aphrodisiac.

While you are having the main course, remember to feed each other; it makes it more romantic.

Other spices you might consider include ginseng or ginger, which have been used for hundreds of years as an aphrodisiac.

Apart from fish, you can also consider chicken, but not just any chicken, kienyeji or the ‘Run around’ chicken always does the trick. Tough it may be, but you could marinate it or sprinkle vinegar to tenderise it, but never forget the spices.

No romantic meal is complete without wine. Chef Des Marais recommends white wine. And it doesn’t have to be the expensive imported wine, he says. In Kenya we have wine that retails for Sh600.

Says the chef: "You can also wash the food down with a glass of Amarula."

By now, your partner must be so elated and relaxed. But there’s more. Dessert. For dessert, consider chocolate. Dark chocolate is, of course, darker, with higher concentration of cocoa, but no sugar or milk. It is not so sweet, as milk chocolate, which many people might opt for.

Susan Kamau, one of Kenya’s most celebrated chefs, gives more insight on this romantic dinner.

"I believe food is sexy depending on the environment. The most common aphrodisiacs is the oyster, which may be eaten raw or cooked, depending on how you like it, she says. Other foods include peanuts, which increase the sex drive.

However, Susan says that you can use chocolate in more romantic ways than we imagine.

"You can use chocolate as a dip or a body smear. You can dip sweet bread or strawberry in chocolate and feed each other. As a smear, you can smear chocolate on your lips or any other body part and have your partner lick it off you," says the cook.

"The second option is to use chocolate as a body smear during more intimate moments, which you must be now reaching, after the hearty meal. Chocolate and ice-cream are the only foods that melt under body temperature, and ice-cream might be too cold, making chocolate a great choice for a body smear. You can also substitute chocolate for candy or honey," says Susan.

Glass of herbal tea

For the drink, Susan advises you to take whatever you love. "Take what you like but to make it more interesting, buy your partner the drink they love. Food is so much about personal preferences," she says.

She also insists on couples sharing, because it brings them closer, hence heightening the chances of intimacy. You can serve your partner a cocktail, or hard liquor such as a pina colada or a Manhattan, provided both of you are comfortable and happy.

For teetotalers, you don’t have to be left out this Valentine’s season. You can make a fruit punch for your partner or a glass of herbal tea. It’s all about presentation. "Make some herbal tea for your partner and garnish it with green grape or cucumber or mint. You can also use honey as a sweetener and serve it on the rocks (ice cubes)," she says adding: "serve it on a long glass and throw in a decent long straw."

While you are at this, do not forget fruits, which are equally important.

Bananas, avocados, grapes and strawberries are considered aphrodisiacs and ‘romantic’, but you must serve them in a manner fit for a love feast.

Play with fruit

Peel the fruits and cut them into pieces and put them in a small bowl.

Don’t let your partner feed him/herself. Feed them with a fork or just your hands. Learn to play with fruit to bring out the romantic mood.

You can swap the pumpkin soup starter with fruits, which also double up as appetisers.

Valentine’s Day, being a special day for lovers, ought to be celebrated.

Therefore, in the true spirit of St Valentine, you can cook as a couple, and even play and tease each other in the process of cooking.

While one prepares the chicken, the other could be preparing the fruit, or setting the table, so that one person is not overburdened by the whole meal.