Whether you believe aphrodisiacs are real or not, you can’t tell me that you’ve never had an experience with some velvety pasta or a rich chocolate cake that felt a little bit sexual.
It’s long been debated whether food can have a real impact on sex drive. The ancient Romans believed in the power of aphrodisiacs, and so does traditional Chinese medicine. Some people argue that because the brain is the center of arousal and also where your body processes tastes and textures when you’re eating, the connection is obvious. Others claim it’s bunk science.
The term “aphrodisiac” comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sex and beauty. There seem to be two major kinds of aphrodisiacs. The first kind are things like ginseng that are believed to have a chemical effect on your body. The second kind are things that resemble certain parts of the human body in either appearance or texture. Avocado trees, for example, were called “testicle trees” by the Aztecs because of the way they hang in pairs—one a bit lower than the other.
Whether you believe aphrodisiacs are real or not, you can’t tell me that you’ve never had an experience with some velvety pasta or a rich chocolate cake that felt a little bit sexual. Here are some aphrodisiac-filled dishes you can try in Pittsburgh and find out for yourself:
Photo via @350bakerypgh on Instagram
This Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake from 350° Bakery is a spin on the Valentine’s Day classic, chocolate covered strawberries. It’s no wonder that this pairing is associated with a romantic holiday. Dark chocolate contains tryptophan and phenylethylamine, which are both linked to good feelings. Chocolate is also thought to be so enjoyable because it’s melting point is just under body temperature, creating that luscious mouthfeel. Strawberries supply vitamin C which is said to promote blood flow, and they’re that blood-red color that invokes passion.
Photo via @merchantpgh on Instagram
These oyster shooters from Merchant Oyster Co. have two major things going for them. First, there’s the oyster, which is one the most iconic aphrodisiacs, going all the way back to ancient Romans claiming they made women who ate them act immorally. Oysters do contain omega-3 fatty acids which some claim boosts libido. The gin in the shooter is also a plus. In moderation, alcohol is believed to increase sex drive—though too much will have the opposite effect.
Photo via @romanovamarisa on Instagram
There are many places to get tofu in Pittsburgh, but none of them with as wonderfully suggestive of a name as Thai Me Up Tofu from Thai Me Up in South Side. Soy products like tofu are often said to effect libido by supplementing estrogen levels. And it’s suggested that the isoflavones help keep things lubricated in women. And the peanut sauce on this dish may help men keep things running because of an amino acid called L-arginine.
Photo via @leonasllc on Instagram
When people talk about ice cream as an aphrodisiac, it’s all about the texture. Ice cream has that gorgeous, silky mouthfeel because it’s an emulsion, which basically means that the fats are suspended in liquids. Real dairy milk is the best way to achieve this, which is why it’s so hard for dairy-free ‘ice creams’ to mimic the texture. But, about 60 percent of the population experiences some level of lactose intolerance, and digestive distress isn’t sexy. That’s where Leona’s ice cream sandwiches come in. They’re made with real milk to be perfectly creamy, but without the lactose that upsets stomachs. You can even find flavors with classic aphrodisiacs like ginger, honey, chocolate, cherry and strawberry.
Photo via @orthewhalepgh on Instagram
This red wine braised lamb neck from Or, the Whale sits atop a bed of asparagus and risotto. Red wine is a classic aphrodisiac, though again, moderation is key with alcohol. It’s said to increase blood flow, and perhaps even raise testosterone levels in men. Of course, we weren’t going to get out of this article without something being considered phallic. But asparagus has more than that going for it—vitamin B6, vitamin E and folate all supposedly boost libido.