Author: Canadian Living

ASPARAGUS: Rich in vitamin E, is thought to stimulate sex hormones. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Roasted Asparagus

BASIL: Used in voodoo love ceremonies in Haiti as an offering to Erzulie, the voodoo love goddess. Check out our collection of Bountiful basil recipes.

CHILI PEPPER: The pepper's heat is generated by capsaicin, a chemical that stimulates nerve endings. Also, raises the pulse.

DAMIANA: Also called wild yam, formerly used for medicinal purposes by indigenous peoples of Central America. Now associated with helping erectile dysfunctions, although with no scientific proof.

EGGS: A symbol of fertility. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Egg Crêpes with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Crème Fraîche

FIGS: Soft and sweet. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Figs Poached in Spiced Red Wine with Mascarpone

GINGKO: Widens blood vessels and therefore increases blood flow to the genitals.

HONEY: Offered by the Egyptians to fertility god Min; is still used in some cultures as part of a wedding ceremony. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Honey Orange Quencher

ICE CREAM: Melting, dripping, creamy, and sweet. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Roll

JUICES: Pure fruit and vegetable juices can cleanse the body of toxins.

LICORICE: Found by the Chicago Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation to significantly increase blood flow to the penis when combined with the smell of donut.

MASTIC TREE: An evergreen with red or black berries. The ancient Arabic love manual The Perfumed Garden advises readers to "take fruit of the mastic tree (derou), pound them and macerate them with oil and honey; then drink of the liquid first thing in the morning: you will thus become vigorous for the coitus, and there will be abundance of sperm produced."

Page 1 of 2 – Discover aphrodisiacs from N to Z on page 2.

NUTMEG: In India, mixed with honey and a half-boiled egg, then taken one hour before lovemaking. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Apple Fig Bread Pudding with Maple Walnut Sauce

OYSTERS: Probably the most famous of the aphrodisiac foods. Erotic in both taste and appearance (a bit like a woman's genitals). Also full of zinc, a mineral vital in the production of healthy sperm. Check out our collection of oyster recipes.

PINE NUTS: Used to increase sexual potency since Roman times. According to The Perfumed Garden (see M entry), "He who feels that he is weak for coition should drink before going to bed a glassful of very thick honey and eat twenty almonds and one hundred grains of the pine tree." Test Kitchen recipe to try: Mixed Greens with Pine Nuts and Mustard Dressing

QUINCE: Sweet and fragrant. Believed to be the forbidden fruit that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

ROSEMARY: Thought to increase blood flow and therefore heighten sensitivity to touch. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Grilled Chicken with Rosemary

SPANISH FLY: Made from the dried-out bodies of beetles; works by "stimulating" the urinary track; can be dangerous.

TOMATOES: In nineteenth century France, tomatoes became known as pommes d'amour or "love apples." Test Kitchen recipe to try: Grape Tomato Bursts

UNAGI: Made from sea eel; thought to restore strength.

VANILLA: Comes from the native Mexican orchid and has been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Cinnamon Vanilla French Toast

WALNUTS: Thrown at weddings by ancient Romans, who believed they held aphrodisiac powers. Test Kitchen recipe to try: Honey Walnut Tart

XANAT: Also known as the "Vanilla Orchid"; named after the daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess who loved a Totonac youth. Not being able to marry the boy because of her divine status, she turned herself into the vanilla orchid so that she could always belong to her human beloved and to spread "pleasure and happiness" throughout mankind.

YOHIMBINE: Extracted from Yohimbine bark, it increases blood flow. Should be taken in moderation.

ZINC: Directly related to sperm quality and therefore fertility. Check out our diet file on zinc.

Excerpted from Love Notes by Amy Maniatis, Elizabeth Weil and Natasha Bondy. Copyright 2006 by Amy Maniatis, Elizabeth Weil and Natasha Bondy. Excerpted, with permission by Raincoasts Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Here are some Valentine's Day menus to help get you in the mood for love:

Heart's delight
Celebrate your sweetie with 6 sensational chocolate desserts.

Stir up a little romance
Fan the flames of passion with seven savoury recipes.

Sweet offerings of Valentine love
Mini-desserts you can share with your sweetie.

Aphrodisiacs menu for Valentine's Day
Titillate your tastebuds and spark passion at the table.

Eat, drink and be frisky
Try this romantic dinner for two to test the ancient theory of aphrodisiacs.

Valentines dinner a deux
Set a table for two and enjoy a night of romance starting with this intimate menu.

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An A to Z aphrodisiacs guide