Let’s start this piece off with a couple of things that everybody knows: 1) oysters are probably aphrodisiacs and 2) green M&Ms, despite claims to the contrary, are probably not. Now that that’s out of the way, we can move on to the rest of the food pyramid.
It is no surprise that many of the foods traditionally listed in the category of aphrodisiac are of the somewhat genitally reminiscent variety. For example, did you know that the Aztec word for avocado is ahuacate, which also means testicle? According to What’s in a Name? The Avocado Story, an article from NPR’s Kitchen Window, the fruit was given this name because of its shape, as well as its reputation as an aphrodisiac. Similarly, fruits such as figs, which when opened are said to look like the female sex organs, are also on the list of things that ancient people thought would probably help them get laid.
There are also some aphrodisiacs that have been scientifically proven to have at least minimal effect—like garlic, which has been shown to increase blood flow to certain, erm, parts of the body; and we all know about the minimal amount of tryptophan found in chocolate that helps build up serotonin (a chemical involved in sexual arousal) levels in the brain. Though it is still unclear whether such foods actually have a noticeable impact on an individual’s sex drive, at least there is a little more behind the claim than “Hey, this vegetable kind of looks like a penis, it probably contains sex magic!” (I’m talking to you, carrots.)
All in all, it seems as though no one knows what the definitive and universal key is to boosting libido. So, using a thoroughly scientific survey of whoever was willing to talk to me about their own food turn-ons, I decided to delve into what Macalester students would consider to be their personal aphrodisiacs. And to make it more interesting, I have expanded the definition of the term to include those foods that are fun to watch other people eat as well.
Surprisingly, the most common answer among those asked was simply meat—the bloodier the better. People said this included both watching other people eat meat and eating meat themselves. Justine Sigel, a philosophy major in her junior year, tells me that she likes seeing people eat huge chunks of the stuff: “I like people who just eat a lot,” says Sigel, “it’s a good thing, like a sign of good health. Plus it’s really carnal.” She also tells me that the key to her heart is a good taco. “Feed me tacos and I will be really happy, not in like a weird innuendo way, but I love Mexican food. Tacos make me feel sexy.” She also adds that she doesn’t really believe in the powers of chocolate, it just makes her feel kind of gross and bloated.
Jeff Kaplan, a senior geography major tells me all about his experience with aphrodisiacs: “I got this ginseng tea one time at a store, which is apparently an aphrodisiac; it definitely worked.” Well, Jeff, as Hansel would tell us, just give in to the power of the tea. After thinking about it a little more, Jeff adds milkshakes to his list. He has some misgivings, however, because “dairy does help you with, like, mucus creation.” Jeff’s solution? Dairy-free milkshakes.
Dessert is also a trend in Macalester turn-ons. Anna Binkovitz, a creative writing major, says that she really likes to watch people eat cake. She adds that there are a lot of fruits she also thinks are appealing: “Strawberries are good because you’re naturally going to be sucking on them because they’re, like, juicy. And it’s kind of like flesh. Chocolate is also an obvious one, because it makes you happier, especially dark chocolate.” Ok, so chocolate, chocolate covered fruit, and cake, I think we can all agree on those.
The final general consensus is red wine. Everyone thinks red wine is sexy. “It’s fancy and it makes you feel fancy,” says Anna Binkovitz. Even Jan Beebe, the English Department Coordinator agrees, saying that red wine is good because it’s warm and cozy.
“I also like spaghetti,” says Beebe, “but that may be because I’ve watched Lady and the Tramp too much.” Haven’t we all, Jan Beebe? Haven’t we all?