Who needs Viagra when you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with sexy foods from around the world?
With V-Day fast approaching, lovers around the world are devising delicious ways to boost their libidos for the boudoir. But, do time-honored love tonics and aphrodisiacs really work?
The fact that almost every country boasts a form of “culinary Cialis” suggests that’s the case. However, late travel host Anthony Bourdain once observed, “if every so-called aphrodisiac actually increased one’s virility — we’d never be able to put on pants.”
Still, adventurous eaters say don’t knock ’em until you try ’em. As a service, The Post has wrangled a food porn-ucopia of global dishes to help Valentine’s diners sift out the bona fide philtres from the sexual snake oil.
Love stinks — if you eat durian on a date.AFP via Getty Images
Nothing screams “love potion” like a spiky fruit so noxious it’s been mistaken for a gas leak, and an “open sewer,” right? Naysayers might be surprised that durian’s status as a sex stimulant is actually based in science. A 2010 study involving mice revealed that the so-called “King of Fruit” increases sperm count and sex drive when eaten consistently over a month. If you can stomach the stench, these smelly Valentines are actually quite sweet and custardy.
Balut (fetal duck egg)
Balut is a popular Filipino snack.Flickr Vision
This 20-day-old duck embryo might look like something that fell out of a nest. Still, the high-protein Filipino delicacy is said to “strengthen the knees,” according to the Journal of Ethnic Foods, (perhaps doubly so if you eat an egg fertilized by Dave the Duck). Get out of your culinary shell by trying balut at popular Filipino restaurants Maharlika or Jeepney in the East Village.
The one time “ants in your pants” could be a plus.LightRocket via Getty Images
These fun-sized farmers cultivate fungus to survive, and their “big-bottomed” fertility is said to translate to the human bedroom as well. According to the Insider, fried leafcutter ants are a popular wedding present in Colombia, where they’ve been consumed for hundreds of years.
Nothing like breaking hearts on Valentine’s Day.AFP via Getty Images
Forget to pack Viagra for the Vietnam trip? Not to worry. Simply remove a live cobra’s heart a la the evil priest in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” place it in a shot of rice wine, and down the liquor so you feel the heart beating all the way down your gullet. The resulting buzz is believed to give your sex drive a boost, the South China Morning Post reports. Chase it with a tumbler of green snake bile liquor for a libido-boosting speedball.
Three penis wine
A hawker touts animal parts at an exotic meat bazaar in Myanmar.LightRocket via Getty Images
From tiger parts to mule members, China has cornered the market on exotic penis dishes. The holy grail is three penis wine, according to National Geographic. This combination of seal, deer and dog members is said to make you a demon in the sack. We’re not sure how this literal cocktail works its magic, although we presume it’s rooted in the “you are what you eat” mantra.
We’ve personally never tried the drink — but can attest from sampling deer wine in Shanghai that Bambi’s unit is so massive that it unfurls from the jar in sections like a plumber’s snake. Warning: You will likely need to import this elixir, because we couldn’t track it down in NYC.
Maggot cheese (Casu Marzu)
A Casu Marzu display at the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmo, Sweden.AFP via Getty Images
A cheese wheel stuffed full of live maggots might sound revolting — but Sardinians swear by it. The larvae’s digestive juices accelerate the cheese’s ripening process, and apparently make for a potent sex tonic, according to locals. Just be sure to wear eye protection when unsealing the wheel as “cheese skippers [maggots] are able to jump a few inches,” according to the Science of Cheese.
Casu Marzu doesn’t exactly pass the FDA’s regulations for food contaminants, so you won’t find it in the US. Hey, that’s all the more reason for a romantic getaway to Sardinia, right?
Pufferfish liver (fugu)
Fugu for sale at a market in Osaka, Japan.Getty Images
No BlueChew, no problem. Tuck into some raw pufferfish, whose lethal toxins allegedly provide horny Japanese businessmen with a helluva pick-me-up. Fortunately, the stringent requirements to become a fugu chef means diners likely won’t die eating blowfish at a reputable establishment, according to Nippon.com. Most fatalities are caused by amateurs taking a sake-soaked stab at the dish.
Gastronauts can sample this delicacy at Midtown’s Satsuki.
A millennial libido-boosterAFP via Getty Images
Who woulda thought that the lifeblood of millennials is also a powerful aphrodisiac? The fruit of the Aztec-dubbed “testicle tree” are a great source of phytosterols that stimulate sexual desire in men and women. It’s a wonder that our avocado toast-loving country has boasted the lowest birth rate in 30 years. No word on whether the “long neck” varietal of avocado imparts added benefits.
What Valentine’s aphrodisiac roundup would be complete without oysters? The magical mollusks were supposedly eaten at V-Day precursor Lupercalia, a Caligula-esque festival where the Romans donned animal skins and whipped each other in lieu of gifting chocolate and schmaltzy cards. Unfortunately, while the zinc in shellfish does boost sperm count, they’re not scientifically proven to foster carnal cravings.
Check out some of the best places to slurp oysters in NYC.
Call it the parma sutraThe Washington Post via Getty Im
Call it the parma sutra! The ultimate Italian-American comfort food: chicken parmesan — a hunk of breaded poultry topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese — is apparently like flypaper for single guys.
“Chicken parm guys find me. You don’t realize how many there are,” Carly Spiewak, 25, a market researcher, tells The Post. The Hoboken, New Jersey, resident says she first spotted the trend on the dating app Hinge.
“There’s questions that you answer on your profile — like, ‘Describe your perfect date,’ and all that corny stuff,” Spiewak says. But as she swiped, she noticed a pattern. “If the question had anything to do with food, a bunch of guys would be talking about chicken parm. I thought, ‘What is this phenomenon?’ I told my friends, and one of them sent me three screenshots that night of guys talking about chicken parm.”
Additional reporting by Suzy Weiss