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The extreme measures some will take to spice up their relationship might surprise you
This Southeast Asian popular fruit is also used as an aphrodisiac.
The use of aphrodisiacs — foods and drinks that are thought to increase sex drive and make the act itself more pleasurable — dates back to as early as the fourth century B.C. The word itself is derived from that of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.
Slideshow: 20 Weirdest Aphrodisiacs Around the World
In ancient times, aphrodisiacs were used to help increase male and female potency in an age where procreation was most important. Many of these foods came to be considered as aphrodisiacs not due to any observable chemical properties, though, but for their resemblances to, well, certain body parts.
Familiar foods like asparagus, oysters, or chocolate have been said to have aphrodisiac qualities, but cultures around the world have long had their own remedies and aids to help them kick the passion up a notch in the bedroom.
A well-known, and strange, aphrodisiac formerly employed in many parts of the world was so-called Spanish fly (made from a species of beetle, Lytta vesicatoria), whose use dates back to ancient Rome. In modern-day Colombia, on the other hand, a popular wedding gift is roasted leaf-cutter ants, whose consumption is believed to up the libido and enhance sexual performance.
From China to Jamaica to Sardinia and beyond, here’s a list of purported aphrodisiacs from around the world that are far from ordinary.
Additional reporting by Alexandra E. Petri.
When Food Is Sexy: 10 Of The World's WEIRDEST Edible Aphrodisiacs
Everyone's heard of the mystical powers of Spanish Fly, but what other wild and crazy edible aphrodisiacs are out there? To get in the mood, would you drink cobra blood, or eat any number of animal penises? Frankly, it just seems easier to get some Viagra. But we thought we'd share some the shocking libido-boosters from all across the globe in case you change your mind.
1. Cobra: In parts of Asia, this deadly snake is harvested for its blood and meat, both touted for their romance-inducing qualities. The blood is sometimes mixed into alcoholic beverages, while the meat is consumed as a delicacy.
2. Fugu: When properly prepared, fugu, or blowfish, is said by the Japanese to produce a tingling in one's cheeks and lips that, after it fades, increases sexual arousal. Of course, this is also one of the deadliest fish in the sea, which if not properly prepared by licensed chefs, can kill you. Somehow, it just doesn't seem worth the risk.
3. Bird's nest soup: This Asian delicacy is exactly what it sounds like. Soup made from a bird's nest. The rare and difficult-to-procure nests are made from the saliva of the cave-dwelling Swift. Though that might sound less than appealing, people who have consumed this extremely expensive dish swear by its ability to get your motor running.
4. Maca: Used as a powder, this root found in the Andes contains sterol, a steroid-like chemical guaranteed to boost your libido and make for a magical night.
5. Balut: Another Asian delicacy, these fertilized duck eggs are served boiled in their own shells, and thought to act as an all-natural Viagra.
6. Rhino horns: OK, let's keep the "horny" jokes to a minimum, shall we? This rare and illegal aphrodisiac (endangered species, anybody?) is especially craved for by men in Africa suffering from impotency.
7. Ambergris: Pretty name, disgusting source. This waxy substance comes from the digestive tract of sperm whales. Long used as a perfuming agent, certain Arabian texts also prescribe it for use in the bedroom.
8. Giant Leaf Cutter Ants: For more than 500 years, these giant ants have been a traditional gift to South American newlyweds on their wedding night. Roasted with the legs and wings removed, they are considered the ultimate key to a wild night. We wonder if this goes on the registry.
9. Sea Cucumbers: Due to a high concentration of vitamins and minerals, these nasty looking, slug-like creatures that roam the sea floor are touted as a major pre-coital boost in China.
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10. Baboon urine: In Zimbabwe, if it's sexual woes that ail you, baboon urines is the way to go. Drunk with beer, locals swear by the amazing powers of monkey piss.
Would you try any of these wild cures to spice things up in the bedroom?
Balut, which is a boiled duck egg that contains a duckling embryo, is the Asian version of New York’s dirty water dog. Okay, maybe a dirty water dog is a little less adventurous, but balut is a ubiquitous street food found throughout the Philippines and in Vietnam. Balut is considered an equivalent of Viagra by men in the Philippines, since it is high in protein and also an energy booster that supposedly stirs desire.
Bird’s nest soup is a rare dish and an expensive one, at as much as $900 a pound, and foraging the nests in the wild can be dangerous. If you can get your hands on this bird soup, which is primarily made up of the saliva of swiftlets from putting together the nest, it is said to help those who need some assistance in the bedroom.
Bird’s nest soup
First, find the nest of a cave-dwelling swiftlet, found mostly in Southeast Asia. Next, soak the nest in water overnight, making sure to remove the feathers and other unsavory bits. Mix with ingredients like chicken broth, onions, sherry, and egg white and voila, bird’s nest soup. With a consistency similar to egg drop soup, the dish is said to smooth the skin, boost the immune system and assist in the bedroom. Oh, and did we mention the nests are made of swiftlet’s saliva? Yes, you’re drinking a bowl of spit.
Best Aphrodisiacs From Around The World
In Germany, white asparagus holds cult-like aphrodisiac status.
A s a foodie, and an incurable romantic, I’ve fed my partner (of 18 plus years together) every supposed culinary aphrodisiac there is. Some didn’t work, some did work, and some worked very, very well. During our travels together, we tried to figure out what makes some aphrodisiacs so effective. Sure, I can research and explain the science behind them and what gets one “hot” or not. But I can also share the best effective aphrodisiacs I’ve found during my travels so that you may try them at home or while visiting romantic destinations around the world.
All I know for sure is, the cacao bean contains caffeine and theobromine, which are great for energy. However, it also contains the chemical phenylethylamine, a welldocumented aphrodisiac. It has been used in Central America as a sexual stimulant for over 200 years. A folktale suggests that Aztec putitas (prostitutes) were even paid in cacao beans. No wonder we give chocolate candies on romantic holidays. In Colombia, we ate the finest cacao and felt euphoric when the velvety chocolate melted in our mouths. The beautiful Colombian guys all around also helped get us in the mood, but after we had some chocolate in the hotel lobby, we headed right back to our hotel room and went wild. This Valentine’s Day, get your cacao on and enjoy the results.
Pepitas, also known as pumpkin seeds, effectively increases one’s sex drive. They contain zinc, which is essential in the production of testosterone, which is one of the main factors effecting sexual drive in men and to a lesser degree women. While in Playa de Carmen recently, we were treated to a private room, and a sensual couple’s massage. They had bowls of pepitas everywhere. I have to tell you, it works! Every day, for the next four days, the spa at our resort sent a complimentary bag of pumpkin seeds to our room. Now, at home, I put out my own bowl of pepitas every weekend.
Oysters are farmed and harvested in the United States as well as in many countries around the world, but it’s in the Italian Peninsula where the practice started as early as the first century BCE No wonder those Italians are so damn sexy. I always thought it was the tight slacks, personally, but when you see an Italian man in tight pants eat oysters, you can surely see that he’s happy. Oysters have a reputation for being great for love and fertility due to the fact that they contain zinc. However, researchers just recently found that oysters contain amino acids that trigger production of sex hormones as well. Shuck, suck, and eat away those oysters for a thrilling time. A hot Italian is not necessary, but one is surely recommended.
We all know that ginseng is famous for being a natural aphrodisiac for men and women. However, it is very effective at increasing sexual desire within women more than men. In Hong Kong, the root has been made into a tonic for centuries. In the US, it is the number-one selling aphrodisiac among women looking for an extra boost. Now imagine two women taking ginseng together! I’ve never been to Japan, but when my partner returns from his travel, he brings back a case of ginseng tonic packaged in these little phallic vials. Bottoms up!
AVOCADOS (United States)
It could be its sensuous shape or buttery flavor that gave the avocado its aphrodisiac status as far back as the Aztecs and up to modern-day Californians. While some are skeptical, we know that avocados contain high levels of vitamin E. They may not be an aphrodisiac due to their chemical makeup or properties, but they could help keep the spark alive due to their role in maintaining youthful vigor and energy levels. I make sure to eat avocados at least once a week. Hey, every little bit helps!
Honey can be traced to many ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Celts, Greeks, and Romans, and King Charlemagne perfected beekeeping in the mid-ninth century in Western Europe. The modern word honeymoon is also rooted in ancient history. Newlyweds were said to partake in a fermented drink called mead made from honey. The couple was supposed to drink mead until the first full moon of their union for a sweet marriage. Honey was also prescribed for the wedding night for sexual vigor. Honey contains boron, which may regulate hormone levels, and nitric oxide, which is released in the blood during arousal. Now, whenever I can help it, I enjoy some sweet honey with my own sweet “honey” of a hunk.
Asparagus (spargel in German) is a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C, vitamin B6, thiamin, and folic acid. The latter is said to boost histamine production, necessary for the ability to reach orgasm in both sexes. In Germany, white asparagus holds cult-like aphrodisiac status. Everywhere you look, they have white asparagus for sale, but only from late April to mid-June. Expect to pay a great premium for the vegetable too. Sure, white asparagus involves a detailed process and must be sold within 24 hours to fully appreciate it, but why all the fuss? After all, Germany boasts a low birthrate. I’ve asked a German man in Berlin last year if he could tell me about the sexual secrets of spargel. He looked at me and said, “You Americans, instead of eating spargel and enjoying its effects, you rather study it. Let’s have some fun times, who cares why.” Well now! And with that, I’ll end this column before I really get in trouble.
Secreted by a sperm whale, ambergris is used both as a food and as an ingredient in some luxury perfumes. Casanova apparently used ambergris-infused perfume to make the ladies swoon, and it has a history in the Middle East of being consumed to increase a man’s virility. One royal family in that region reportedly combines ambergris with milk and honey to create the passion-inducing dish.
Ambergris is banned in many countries however, including Australia and the US, because of the endangered status of the sperm whale. But in other countries, including the UK and those in the European Union (EU), it is legal to salvage a lump of ambergris from beaches and sell it. Although all whale and dolphin species are protected under EU law, ambergris is regarded as an excretion, and therefore a benign byproduct.
20 iconic and unusual hot drinks around the world
Who knew that purple corn, pineapple, cinnamon, cloves and orange rind could come together to make a thick, hot drink that’s practically a meal unto itself? Well, they figured it out in Bolivia with api morado: a drink that can be traced back to the Incans.
It is served for breakfast, usually with a pastry. Or there is api blanco, which features white corn, milk, sugar and cinnamon. Served at bus stations in the mornings in central and western Bolivia, it is the ideal warm greeting when you arrive in the cool of the Andes.
(It is also known as chicha morada in other parts of South America and sometimes served cold.)
Agua Dulce: Costa Rica
This drink is aptly named: in English, it’s sweet water. And it is just that – unbleached and unrefined whole sugar cane dissolved in hot water. Agua dulce is popular at breakfasts and with campesinos, farmers.
Wattleseed is a type of acacia seed celebrated in Australia the golden wattle blossom is Australia’s national flower.
When the seeds are ground, it can be used as a coffee substitute, and the resulting cappuccino, the cleverly named Wattlecino, will be caffeine free and will taste like a combination of chocolate and coffee with a hazelnut finish without any of the traditional coffee bitterness.
Sarabba is a drink traditionally enjoyed by night shift workers in southern Sulawesi, one of Indonesia’s Sunda Islands.
The drink is spicy with a heavy dose of ginger and white peppercorns. Palm sugar and coconut milk temper and round out the flavors.
Grind up the bulb of the orchid Orchis mascula, and you get the powdered starch that is the base of the Egyptian drink, sahlab. The drink is also popular in Turkey, where it’s called sahlep, Iran and other eastern Mediterranean countries and Middle Eastern countries.
Pick up a cup from a pastry shop or from the brass urn of a street vendor’s cart. Milk is boiled with sugar and the orchid root powder thickens the drink. Topped with cinnamon, the drink is rich and filling.
If you get an instant mix somewhere, it’s not (or shouldn’t be) made of true orchid root, as the popularity of ground orchid root has put some wild orchid species in Turkey in danger.
Oh! And it is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac. So drink responsibly.
This classic Dutch drink is anise mixed with hot milk. The anise isn’t overbearing, it adds a fragrant and light touch of spice, but it’s still a love it or hate it type of drink – if you like the taste of black licorice, you’ll go crazy for it.
Traditionally, it was made by soaking aniseed in milk now it’s more common to add anijs blokjes, anise sugar cubes, to warm milk and stir. It’s thought to be a sleep aid and to calm the stomach.
20 Weirdest Aphrodisiacs Around the World - Recipes
The yearning for sexual virility is strong in the human species, so nothing should really surprise us when it comes to strange aphrodisiacs. There are some weird and grotesque aphrodisiacs substances around the world that you probably have never heard of, and are certainly not available at your local health food store. Here are some of the more alarming ones.
For men, pure snake blood has long been used to get the blood moving. Some young lovers in China, Southeast Asia and the Philippines prove their virility by hunting cobra snakes and drinking their blood as an aphrodisiac (sometimes mixed with an alcoholic beverage). This is an aphrodisiac worth dying for since hunting these cobras kills hundreds of people each year in the area.
You may have tried duck in the States, but chances are you’ve never thought of consuming a duck egg… along with a duck fetus, 20 days into gestation. This aphrodisiac has been used in the Philippines and Southeast Asia where you can eat and drink the unthinkable. First, drink the egg liquid, and then peel the egg away to eat the duck fetus, complete with feathers (if that doesn’t put you in the mood, what will?). This may well be a test of a strong stomach more than anything else, but some people swear by it.
Spanish Fly as an aphrodisiac is a legend dating back many years, and it’s still believed to be true. The secretions of the blister beetle are known to cause irritation and swelling. The acidic substance inside the beetle is called cantharidin, and is so powerful that it’s used in animal stock breeding to induce mating behavior. This aphrodisiac causes arousal, similar to the degree of Viagra, and can even lead to what is known as a priapism – an erection lasting 4 hours or longer.
While buying and consuming cantharides is illegal due to the sometimes violent and unexpected health issues that can result, you can still find distilled Spanish Fly in parts of Europe.
Other strange aphrodisiac items to mention include wolf meat, popular in Mongolia, and tiger penis (yes, you read that correctly), an alleged aphrodisiac partly blamed for the endangered tiger population. This aphrodisiac is still served as soup or as a spiced meat in China, Taiwan and South Korea.
Considering the alternatives out there, maybe taking Viagra as an aphrodisiac isn’t the worst you can do!
Your Guide To The Most Powerful Love Elixirs
Love potions can take many shapes and forms from all over the globe. One such attainable “love potion’ is an Aphrodisiac, defined as an element that evokes or stimulates sexual desire, and used for centuries to aid in the act of a night of passion. The name comes from the Greek word aphrodisiac, pertaining to Aphrodite and sexual desire. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and thus, aphrodisiacs are taken as a way to request help from her for all things involving love making.
Forget the usual chocolate and wine, we have curated a guide to the most powerful love elixirs used around the world.
aphrodite painting by botticelli
Pomegranates have been a symbol of passion and temptation for thousands of years. It has been said that it was a pomegranate, and not an apple that tempted Eve to take a bite into, thus giving her and Adam a moment of lustful desire before being condemned out of paradise. The deep red color of the fruit triggers a sense of passion in a person when eaten. Pomegranates are native to Persia and are heavy in vitamins and antioxidants. It is also rich in vitamin C which aids in a woman’s fertility.
Pomegranates, rich in vitamin C which aids in a woman’s fertility
Its juices have been said to raise a man’s testosterone levels which prompts him to want sexual intercourse. The smell of a pomegranate also inspires sexual arousal, heat and lustful tendencies.
The Spanish Fly
The Spanish Fly is a famous potion that goes back to the days of Ancient Rome It’s a powder made from dried beetles. The beetles contain a chemical called cantharidin, so when it passes through a male or female body, it tends to ‘tingle’ the groin area and increases blood flow in those areas. The powder creates sort of a tingle that brings on a more ecstatic orgasm for both men and women. It accelerates the libido that strengthens the overall sex drive. But be warned lovers: too much can cause damage to vital organs.
Love Potion no. 3, The Spanish Fly
Since the times of ancient Greece and Rome, truffles are one of the world’s finest aphrodisiacs.They contain a high concentration of protein and amino acids which make the heart beat faster. Their scent and taste are alluring as well as their rarity. The scent of truffles is similar to male pheromones. Napoleon Bonaparte are truffles to increase his masculine potency.
Sabatino Tartufi Whole Black Summer Truffle Jar – 6 Pack (1.4 oz)
In many parts of Asia, cobra blood is a powerful aphrodisiac that is known to drive senses wild. The blood is mixed with alcoholic drinks like wine and vodka to neutralize the toxins still left in the cobra. Herbs are added to the serpent’s blood to increase its sexual power. The cobra blood and alcohol cocktail must be left to age for months before any sexual encounter for better results. The mix is said to also have a sexual revitalizing effect that can create a so-called “pants-tightening effect.” This means that by drinking the blood, it can cause a larger erection in males thus creating a better sexual experience for both.
The Japanese have used this next method of seduction for more than a few centuries. The blowfish or fugu, is an aphrodisiac that if not prepared properly, can actually be highly toxic and dangerous. When ingested, the fugu leaves a tingling sensation on diners’ tongues, cheeks and lips. It gets the blood pumping and in a few minutes and increases erotic arousal.
The Chinese believe that ginseng increases sexual performance by increasing mental stimulation. It lowers the risk of erectile dysfunction in males which leads to a healthy and a more productive sex life. Studies have shown that after eating ginseng infused recipes or simply the root itself, men and women soon experience a warm and pleasurable feeling after chewing.
Many don’t like the taste of licorice as it has always been the last thing to be eaten at the candy store. But for some, licorice has become a new way to experience sexual pleasure. This unusual aphrodisiac has been shown to increase the need for sex by simply smelling and eating it. The smell awakens sexual arousal in both males and females. This food goes back a few millennium when the Egyptians and the Hindus ate licorice for stronger sexier time with their consorts. Those licorice whips increase performance and stamina which are both key players in the game of love.
World's Strangest Aphrodisiacs
Some people put on a strong aftershave. Others cue up a little Barry White. Still others go a different route when they&rsquore looking to get in the mood: they drink a glass of cobra blood.
Sound strange? It won&rsquot if you visit China. To some men there&mdashand in other parts of Asia&mdashimbibing the blood of a venomous snake is as conducive to seduction as the soulful tones of Barry.
The concept of the aphrodisiac&mdasha substance that, when consumed, enhances sexual performance&mdashexists in almost every culture, and dates back as far as ancient Egypt (when amorous couples reportedly ate wine-soaked water lilies to amp up their passion). Martha Hopkins, author of InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook, explains that &ldquohistorically, foods that mimicked certain body parts were believed to aid those same body parts, including sexual organs.&rdquo That would explain certain populations&rsquo affinity for sea cucumber&mdashas well as powdered rhino horn.
Thanks to centuries of traditional Chinese medicine&mdashwhich links particular ingredients to an amplified sex drive&mdashmost aphrodisiacs can be found in Asia. In Korea, the hagfish, or slime eel, takes the shape of an enviably large member and emits a slimy substance when touched, likely accounting for its status as an elixir of love. And there is perhaps no more symbolic aphrodisiac than the balut&mdasha duck egg hosting a partially gestated fetus&mdashhawked in the Philippines as commonly as movie theater popcorn.
Other purported aphrodisiacs get their potency from actual toxins, which irritate (some might say &ldquoinflame&rdquo) the bodies of those who eat them. Perhaps the best-known example of this sort is good old Spanish fly&mdashan acidic beetle secretion prized for its ability to cause swelling on contact or fugu (blowfish), which can lead to both pleasurable tingling and much-less-pleasurable death.
Despite these risks&mdashand despite the fact that there&rsquos little medical evidence to back up most aphrodisiac claims&mdashmany cultures still embrace the belief that certain foods can kick up one&rsquos sex drive. In the end, an aphrodisiac&rsquos effectiveness likely has the simplest explanation: the power of suggestion&mdashand some very wishful thinking.
&ldquoAphrodisiacs are all about the imagination&mdashwhether you&rsquore eating cobra or sipping hot chocolate,&rdquo says Hopkins. &ldquoThe mind-set behind it is really what counts.&rdquo