Researching aphrodisiacs


“Saffron Nights” will be released in February and one of the questions I am sure I’ll be asked is if aphrodisiacs really work. Well, I am not going to answer that. I reserve the right to be coy and say “read the book and you will know what I think.”

But I did find out a lot about reported aphrodisiacs all over the world when I was researching. The first one was durian, which is this spiky fruit that gives off a foul smell, but is tasty and sweet. It’s  native to Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia and many believe in its sexual enhancement powers.

Culinary superstar Anthony Bourdain says:”Its taste can only be described as…indescribable, something you will either love or despise. …Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”

You either hate it or you love it. In my research, I found out that many people can’t get beyond the smell of it, which is exactly why some public places ban it.  So Maeve, the main character in the book, has a bad reaction to it as she is traveling through India’s mountains and durian groves. It adds an extra obstacle for her, of course, and definitely for Jackson, the photographer who is so worried about her that it difficult for him to work. But he manages and she rallies.

But with the Stinkhorn or MAMALU O WAHINE (woman’s mushroom)  that grows in Hawaii, among other places, Maeve is pleasantly surprised. She hates mushrooms and doesn’t even want to try them. (You can see a photo of it here. But as the mushrooms are cooking, the scent pulls her in. “Okay,” she thinks “I’ll try it.” She takes the plate with her to her room and locks the door. She is alone with her mushrooms and its affects—but don’t feel sorry for her. She wants it that way, preferring to keep Jackson on the other side of the door.

There are all sorts of stories about women and these mushrooms in Hawaii. Unlike Maeve, I love mushrooms. I’d be willing to try this particular mushroom, but it’s difficult to get your hands on, like much of the exotic food I am writing about in this book. This mushroom is at the top of my list to try–but I’d have to send my girls off for the weekend and lock the doors with just my husband and I inside—if the reported affects are true.

Stay tuned. I’ll be writing more about my research into the food of Saffron Nights. In the mean time, what are your experiences with exotic food–or even aphrodisiacs?

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2 Comments

  • madelineiva
    September 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I wonder how often people combine food and sex? — like statistically? Used to have a co-worker with a whipped cream fetish.

  • Liz Everly
    September 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I think a lot of people experiment with food and sex. There is the whipped cream thing..then there’s the chocolate syrup thing, and so on. And there is the intimacy of feeding another person, as well. You may not think of it in sexual terms at all. But it can be very sexy.

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