Valentine's Day aphrodisiacs and wish lists

Feb. 13, 2012

If you'd like to celebrate Valentine's Day with some famous aphrodisiacs, Chef Michael Formicella's blog at identifies some well-known examples used through the ages.

If you'd like to celebrate Valentine's Day with some famous aphrodisiacs, Chef Michael Formicella's blog at identifies some well-known examples used through the ages. They include: Asparagus -- Three courses of asparagus were served to 19th century bridegrooms in France at their prenuptial dinner due to its reputed aphrodisiac powers; Bananas -- due not only to their shape, but also their creamy, lush texture, and some studies show their enzyme bromelain enhances male performance; Caviar -- High in zinc, which stimulates the formation of testosterone, maintaining male functionality; Champagne -- Viewed as the "drink of love," moderate quantities lower inhibitions and cause a warm glow in the body; Chocolate -- Contains both a sedative which relaxes and lowers inhibitions and a stimulant to increase activity and the desire for physical contact. It was banned from some monasteries centuries ago; Figs -- Ancient Greeks in a frenzied copulation ritual celebrated these seasonal crops; Ginseng -- Increases desire for physical contact; Perfumes: Made of natural foodstuffs such as almond, vanilla, basil and other herbs and spices which act as a pheromone; Puffer Fish -- Considered both a delicacy and an aphrodisiac in Japan. If the poisonous gland is not properly removed, the tiniest taste is deadly. The flirt with death is said to give a sexual thrill. Not recommended; Oysters -- Some oysters repeatedly change their sex from male to female and back, giving rise to claims that the oyster lets one experience the masculine and feminine sides of love; Radish -- Considered a divine aphrodisiac by Egyptian pharaohs, most likely because its spicy taste stimulates the palate; Truffles -- probably due to their rarity and musky aroma, they have long been considered to arouse the palate and the body. To sustain his masculinity, an ancient lover in lore was said to have gorged himself to death on Alba truffles during the wedding feast.

More conventionally, U.S. Consumers plan to spend an average of $126 on their sweethearts, up 8.5 percent from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation. Americans spend more than $700 million on chocolate for Valentine's Day, according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA). Consumer Reports taste testers sampled more than 30 boxes of gift chocolates to help you get your money's worth. One of the priciest is Richart Petits Collection Intense Ballotin. It goes for $67 plus shipping. But it wasn't the best. The chocolate coatings are chalky, and some of the fillings reminded the taste testers of soap. Far better, but still pricey is the Norman Love Confections 25-piece Signature Gift Box, with ultrasmooth chocolates and unusual fillings. It costs $49, and with shipping you'll pay more than $60. But Consumer Reports also found some very good chocolates that cost far less. And you can get them in stores, so you won't have to pay for shipping. They include: Godiva Gold Ballotin 36-piece box, $40, especially if your valentine likes really sweet chocolates; Ferrero Collection Fine Assorted Confections, just $11. The truffles are flavorful, and the crisp wafer coatings and nuts add interesting texture; and See's Assorted Chocolates, around $17 a box.

Or give your honey Skyy Spirits' American Honey, the original bourbon honey liqueur made with real Kentucky bourbon and American-grown honey. It is genuine, all-American and unexpectedly smooth. A deep golden hue, American Honey has a nose of ripe citrus and an exceptionally smooth palate of sweet honey and caramel with subtle bourbon notes and a long, rich finish, and perfect served as a chilled shot or over rocks.

Meanwhile, given a list of six Valentine's Day gift options and asked which one they would most like to receive as a Valentine's Day gift, 31 percent of adults favored restaurant gift cards, followed by jewelry, clothing/apparel, flowers, chocolate and perfume/cologne, according to a survey of 1,007 adults by the National Restaurant Association (NRA). When broken down by gender, 46 percent of men favored restaurant gift cards over clothing/apparel at 16 percent, and chocolate at 12 percent. Women indicated that their preferred gifts are jewelry (37 percent) and flowers (23 percent), with restaurant gift cards coming in third at 13 percent.

The survey also showed that nearly half of American adults don't plan to celebrate Valentine's Day at all, or celebrate with things other than a special meal. One-quarter will celebrate Valentine's Day by dining in a restaurant. In addition, one-quarter plans to celebrate the occasion at home or someone else's home, and of those, 15 percent plan to order restaurant takeout or delivery.

Happy Valentine's Day!