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Food for Thought: Aphrodisiacs



Eels were another favorite Roman stimulant. Obvious architecture aside, like all fish, eels are high in phosphorous and iodine, chemicals which have excitant effects on the bladder and urinary tracts. Blood thirsty lamprey eels were especially prized by Rome's would be wooers since they were believed to increase seminal fluids. Perhaps that is why Julius Caesar served over 6,000 lampreys at a triumphal celebration during the time he was consorting with Cleopatra.

One of history's most famous seductresses, Cleopatra is reputed to have entertained as many as one hundred men in a single night. She put aside her wanton ways for Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, and to each man in his turn she was true. Cleo gave herself to Caesar in exchange for power, but Marc Antony won her heart. The Queen of the Nile once carpeted a entire room with red rose petals, so that their heady scent would surround and seduce him as he walked toward her.

The red rose has always been sacred to the love goddess. Her temples were draped with rose garlands. Her priestesses wore rose crowns and bathed in rose water. Those who attended her ceremonies were served rose wine and rose sweetmeats before being offered more substantive love treats.

Lovers still offer bouquets of red roses as tokens of their affection, but perhaps they would be wiser to eat foods flavored with garlic, the "stinking rose." The Egyptians believed garlic endowed a man with prodigious strength and ate copious amounts of it. While the garlic bulb's suggestive shape earned its reputation for being a strength enhancer and sexual stimulant, science has proved that the stinking rose truly does have aphrodisiac properties. It is also a natural antibiotic with powerful germ-killing ability.

The Romans called the goddess of love Venus and told stories about her winged son, Cupid. Armed with a magic bow and a quiver of gold and lead tipped arrows, he pierced the hearts of mortals causing them to fall in or out of love as Venus whimsically decreed. In Greece, she was known as Aphrodite, her son was called Eros, and they live yet in the words erotic and aphrodisiac.

Greek myth tells that Aphrodite was born from seafoam, and rose on the waves full-grown in a seashell. Like the goddess herself, the most famous aphrodisiac of all


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