TAHOE/TRUCKEE - In putting together this column, I had to do a lot of research on aphrodisiacs. That is not to say I sat around ingesting all sorts of exotic concoctions and taking my pulse.No, for starters, I did my homework the old-fashioned way, with hard-hitting man-on-the-street interviews. Hey? What gets you in the mood? Oh, sorry officer. How 'bout you, ma'am, what gets your motor running?After politely jotting down a dozen different kinds of hard liquor, one response of "pizza" (a full stomach never works for me) and, my personal favorite, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beer-holder," I finally had to dig deep on-line to come up with the following list of romantic stimulants supported by science - and, again, probably hard liquor.1. Oysters. Might as well give these guys top billing because apparently it is no joke. First of all, their salty/sweet scent is not dissimilar to the most potent female pheromone, TMA. This having been said, it begs the question: Why doesn't a barbecue potato chip produce the same amorous reaction? I'll tell you. Oysters are loaded with zinc, a key nutrient for testosterone production which stimulates the libido in both men and women. Save Mart puts out fresh oysters three times a week (ask for Joe in the Truckee branch. He'll take care of you. ) or 12 oz. jars always. For Oysters Rockefeller, brush raw oysters on half-shell with melted butter, lemon juice and parsley. Bake at 350 for five minutes, remove, top with sauted spinach and grated jack cheese, return to oven for two minutes. Remove and serve hot.2. Cherimoyas fruit. This prehistoric-looking fruit gets its name from the Incas, the translation being "cold breast," which doesn't exactly bode well for a romantic interlude. Apparently they were once used to pacify children. In modern times, they are great additions to smoothies, and when mixed with bananas and almonds, also in the aphrodisiac family, you are good to go. Mark Twain called these fruits "deliciousness itself." You be the judge.3. Bananas. More than just a promising shape, they contain potassium and B vitamins which are essential to sex hormone production.4. Almonds. The aroma is believed to stimulate passion in the female. Me? I'm a sucker for the smell of bacon. Oh well, an Almond Breeze, Cherimoyas and banana smoothie is probably more appetizing than one made with pork products..5. Chilies. These little love bombs contain capsaicina a chemical which stimulates our nerve endings, raises our pulse and is responsible for the "heat." I like to buy the fresh jalapenos, grill them in olive oil with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parmesan and serve warm with a side of guacamole. This brings us to...6. Avocados. The vitamin B6 in this fruit is said to increase the male hormone production. For a good dip, I dice up two avocados, one tomato, a half-bunch of cilantro, 1/2 a red onion, a teaspoon of garlic and mix together with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.7. Chocolate. My theory is chocolate is considered one of the definitive romance boosters only because we can't eat diamonds. Scientists, however, adhere to the notion that chocolate contains a stimulant called phenylethylamine which gives you a rush similar to the sense of excitement endorphins give us. Researchers also believe chocolate contains chemicals that affect neurotransmitters in the brain and a substance similar to caffeine called theobromine. Whatever. Buy your sweetie a box of phenylethylamine-covered almonds and stand back.8. Artichokes. In 16th Century Europe, artichokes were considered to release such strong sexual urges that women were not allowed to eat them. At face value this seems to make no sense. Who needs a one-sided aphrodisiac? We have children to take care of that. But upon further investigation, I discovered artichokes contain cynarin, a phytochemical which has a potent effect on the taste buds, making wine almost unpalatable. So the truth is revealed! Men didn't want their women eating artichokes because then they wouldn't drink wine which, again, on an empty stomach, is a sure thing.9. Green M&Ms. Mars introduced green M&Ms in the 1970s, some frat guy got lucky, and an urban legend was born. Still, there is something to be said for nostalgia, like a sweet, romantic song from more carefree days, to bring sexy back and a bowl of shiny, green, candy-coated chocolate falls into this category. Me? I'm waiting for the green peanut M&M's10. Caviar. Something about these pricey, little salty fish eggs that just says romance. Or it could be the accompanying shots of ice cold Absolut vodka talking. Whatever the reason, petite white toast points topped with caviar, sour cream and finely chopped red onions will bring out your inner James Bond or Bond girl - this time stirred, not shaken. Stop by Avec in Truckee or Village Market in Incline to stock up on caviar (actually, a little dab will do ya') for a memorable Valentine's Day celebration deux.
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