The power of the aphrodisiac has been debated for years – do they actually work? Is there any scientific proof whatsoever that certain foods have any special affect on our libido or, umm, performance? To be honest, we’re not so sure that it matters – especially when the list of food in question contains delicacies like oysters, truffles and chocolate. Yes it may be Valentine’s Day, but really, it’s not as if we need much encouragement when it comes to testing out such treats. Bypassing some of the weirder varieties (surely it’s not just us that’s a little put off by deep fried tarantula or roasted ants?), we’ve selected a few of our favourite aphrodisiacs and where to go in London to get your hands on them.
Probably the best-known aphrodisiac of them all, the science behind the aphrodisiacal properties of the oyster is said to lie in high levels of zinc. Wonderfully decadent and, of course, expensive, oysters have become a symbol of extravagance as well as sex – Casanova famously feasted on 50 a day. And when it comes to oyster experts in the city, you really can’t do better than The Mothershuckers. Bringing sustainably sourced British oysters to the streets of London most weekends via their Portobello pop-up in the Muse Gallery (keep your eyes peeled for a new location coming soon…), and available for all manner of events and festivals, these guys know a thing or two about sexy seafood.
Rare, intense, and admittedly a little funny looking, truffles are believed to replicate the male pheromone androstenone – apparently diving women wild with desire. Both white and black varieties are thought to have aphrodisiacal effects but the black is the more powerful of the two. Said to be the best in the world, Italian truffles are the most prized of all, and conveniently, available from the good folks at Tartufaia Truffles at Borough Market every Thurs, Fri and Sat. Selling top quality tartufaia truffles and all manner of exquisite truffle-based products, this is one of the best places in London to stock up. After all, Napoleon was reportedly a fan and look how much of an alpha male he turned out to be…
An aphrodisiac that dates right back to Aztec times, chocolate has long been associated with sensuality. Something to do with the high levels of mood-lifting chemicals contained in cocoa (more specifically Serotonin and Phenylethlamine), sex and chocolate have become inseparable in the minds of many. London has become fertile ground for the chocolatier over the last few years with chocolate shops and cafes popping up with increasing regularity, but our favourite boutique brand has to be Amelia Rope. Stocking the likes of Liberty and Selfridges with her deliciously indulgent handmade chocolate bars and boxed delights, we’d recommend getting your Valentine’s goodies here.
Image: Amelia Rope
The humble chilli pepper has the power to raise heart rate, body temperate and make lips swell – all attributes that have earned it a top spot on most lists of aphrodisiac foods. Varying in strength and heat, it’s probably worth noting that too strong a chilli is likely to dampen the mood rather than lift it, but strike the right balance and you should get the desired effect. For the committed chilli connoisseur a trip to The Chilli Company farm in Suffolk is a great opportunity to sample fresh varieties and even attend a chilli growing course – but for those after a quick fix, Fortnum and Mason stock a whole range of products transported straight from the Norfolk farm.
Known to some as the nectar of Aphrodite, honey is widely regarded as both an aphrodisiac and a symbol of procreation due to the pollination process that gives rise to this sweet treat – take the term “honeymoon” for example… With so many varieties to choose from the options are endless here, but for a taste of real home-grown honey, check out The London Honey Company. Headed up by honey enthusiast Steve Benbow, and initially located on the roof of an ex-council block in Tower Bridge, The Honey Company has now set up hives on the roofs of a range of London landmarks such as Tate Modern and Fortnum and Mason. In fact, a trip to one of the London hives could make for an interesting Valentine’s Day outing…