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Eat and Drink

Aphrodisiacs in NYC: Shellfish, chocolate, spicy foods and more

Locally-sourced aphrodisiacs can woo any New Yorker.

"According to the Oxford English Dictionary an aphrodisiac is a drug, preparation or food that invokes lust," explained food historian Francine Segan. "Something that gets blood flowing to....well all the right places!"

While champagne and truffles may be alluring aphrodisiac treats to some, others may prefer to powers of licorice, vanilla or even avocados!

Medical and personal associations lead to passion in different subjects tested by scientists. "If you've always had great sex after eating chocolates then chocolate will be your ideal aphrodisiac," said Segan. Shape, taste and texture can all lead to a food being considered an aphrodisiac -- everything from avocados to ginko to turtle eggs fall in the category of love-inspiring foods.

Popular aphrodisiacs include seafood, chocolate, chili peppers, wine and berries -- here's where to procure them in NYC!


Aphrodisiacs were named for Aphrodite, the goddess of
Photo Credit: Nerai

Aphrodisiacs were named for Aphrodite, the goddess of love. "According to ancient Greek myth, Aphrodite was born from the sea and arrived ashore transported by either an oyster or scallop shell," explains Segan. Because of her sea connection, all seafood, especially shellfish, was considered an aphrodisiac since ancient Greek times.

Enjoy some Greek shellfish at Nerai, a romantic midtown spot with menu items like langoustine served over squid ink pasta and butter poached lobster over orzo. You can also treat a loved one to a dozen oysters at romantic spots like Maison Premiere, Mermaid Oyster Bar or the dim-lit Bara in the East Village, where oysters come topped with homemade kimchi mignonette.


Photo Credit: TheRedHookWinery via Facebook

"The ancient Greeks and Romans worshipped and held yearly festivals for the wine god Bacchus, also called Dionysus, who was born from an affair between the god Zeus and a mortal woman," says Segan. Wine, for the ancients, was not only a nice drink to have with dinner but thought to be absolutely essential to good health. At that time, water was often filled with dangerous germs, whereas wine was safe. More than just essential to good health, wine was believed to be essential to life, making it one of the first and most popular aphrodisiacs.

Woo your boo with a date to City Winery or Adelina's, which has wine on tap and sultry Italian food. If you prefer to stay in, pick up a bottle from Brooklyn Winery, Brooklyn Oenology or The Red Hook Winery.


Cacao beans, essential to making chocolate, first made
Photo Credit: Francois Payard

Cacao beans, essential to making chocolate, first made their way to Europe from the New World in the 1500s. Once cacao arrived, physicians and health writers began to study it and decided it was not only an aphrodisiac but also a cure-all for many ills including indigestion. Cassanova, famed writer of the 1700s, devoted several pages in his memoir to how effective chocolate was in getting women in the mood, Segan explains. Grab some locally produced dark chocolate bars from Brooklyn's Mast Brothers or try your hand at making Francois Payard's chocolate truffles.

Strawberries and Raspberries

Photo Credit: Jacques Torres

"Because of their seductive color back in the Renaissance strawberries were called 'fruit nipples' and considered powerful aphrodisiacs," Segan said. While it's not really strawberry season, you can find a box of elegant chocolate-dipped strawberries at Jacques Torres -- two aphrodisiacs in one! For another aphrodisiac duo, opt for the chocolate ravioli with strawberry dipping sauce at Giovanni Rana. Enjoy raspberries in a tarte at Laduree or in the alluring Red Velvet cocktail made with Framboise Lambic, sparkling wine and a fresh raspberry at The Lambs Club.

Chili peppers and Cayenne

Photo Credit: garrettziegler via Flickr

"For hundreds of years spices that tingle the tongue -- like red pepper flakes, cinnamon and ginger -- were thought to be aphrodisiacs. The idea being that if they make the tongue tingle they will make other body parts tingle, too!" says Segan. "Chili peppers and these spices quicken the pulse and induce perspiration, which mimics the state of arousal and also stimulates the release of endorphins."

Get an extra load of endorphins with the spicy Kung Pao pastrami at Mission Chinese Food. To heat things up without burning your budget before Feb. 14, head to the newly opened Kurry Qulture in Astoria, where a three-course pre-fixe dinner runs at $33.


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