The Food of Love and Lust

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The Food of Love and Lust

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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t is widely believed that the first aphrodisiac was inadvertently consumed by man – a wandering and somewhat hungry cave man. He found a ginkgo nut lying around in the forest, popped it into his mouth, and wound up with a surprising fire in his pre-historic loins.

With that ginkgo nut, began man’s eternal quest for a hard on. The first to make the search for aphrodisiacs a part of #lifegoals were the Greeks, a bunch of randy old men in togas, who believed that whipping their privates with poison ivy or swallowing strangely sexual-looking oysters was the answer to their coital conundrums. But ever since the Kama Sutra won the Pulitzer for best erotic non-fiction in 350 BC and landed a lucrative temple statue deal, India grabbed the baton for making sure lingas don’t go limp, and ran with it into the dark erotic night.

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Ayurveda developed a branch of medicine called Vajikarana, which literally means “conjugate like a horse”. It specifically dealt with the treatment of sexual inadequacy among men and women with elaborate herbs and concoctions, which had the entire nation brewing, mixing, and spicing all through the day, and gloriously fucking all through the night. It’s no wonder then that the Mughals rode in easily.

The Mughals added some serious bling to the whole aphrodisiac conversation in Unani medicine with elaborately detailed recipes for food, usually in a form we’d liken to modern-day kormas or curries. Ingredients such as powdered gold, silver, and pearls would ensure that their multiple begums had multiple orgasms. So if you’ve wondered why the characters in Mughal miniatures have that I-just-fucked look on their faces, it’s probably because they did just fuck after a big dose of Unani sex sauce, before riding into battle to dispatch their enemies and collect more concubines. This, of course, led to more fucking and a hell of a lot of Mughal art. Vicious cycle that one.

But is there really any merit in the fact that the food you eat can enrich your sexual functions?

Then one day, a bunch of white folk got off a boat and fined us with “teen guna lagan” and demanded that we shove our kinkiness where the sun don’t shine. Overnight, sex became taboo in the land that invented the Indrani position. The importance placed on aphrodisiacal eating slowly diminished, as we became a colony of prudes. What was common knowledge, preserved carefully and lovingly through generations, has now become the domain of babas peddling penis drugs out of rusty caravans and the half-baked pseudo science that TVC Skyshop endorses post midnight via B-movie actresses parading padded cleavage.

But is there really any merit in the fact that the food you eat can enrich your sexual functions? Is it true that you can in fact put more lead in your pencil by chowing down on food? Probably yes, probably no.

Scientifically speaking, oysters are rich in zinc and zinc is highly imperative to the sexual health of both men and women. Then there’s simple everyday stuff like carrots and ladies’ fingers, which are in fact rich in vitamins and minerals that scientifically promote “body warmth” aka that warm fuzzy feeling that gets you going. Saffron, lavender, tomatoes, and asparagus are abound with anti-oxidants. But apart from all this scientific crap, I think food and aphrodisiacs have a deeper connection. It is not about the type of food, but about how you use it. Even a good old egg will do.

Anthony Bourdain firmly believes that a well-made omelette should be part of every man’s sexual arsenal. It is the simplest way of thanking someone for a good lay, while bettering your chances for a round two. I’ve gone one step ahead of Bourdain. In a dish titled “Made Only to Get Laid”, I use all the known aphrodisiacs like tuna, cucumber, green onions, chives, pepper, and red wine to rustle up a gorgeously sexy tuna tartare to be served with a glass of great wine. If aphrodisiac science works, then great, but it’s a meal so lovingly prepared that your partner just assumes you’re awesome in bed. As that old adage goes, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to cook, and he’ll always get laid!”

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