Thanks to the Doctrine of Signatures, summarized by the notion that if a plant looks like a body part it must be helpful to that part, numerous foods have been declared aphrodisiacs based on their shape. If they actually do produce any amorous effects, one could think of the cause as sort of a Freudian placebo, perhaps coupled (no pun intended) with a Pavlovian response.

Like many legends, however, there is a certain truth behind these dubious aphrodisiacs that the ancients didn’t anticipate, since they often have qualities that may be indirectly useful to the lover. Asparagus is a good example.

Its claim to fame is of course its phallic shape, paradoxical in that the best asparagus is thin and not at all woody. These shortcomings generally overlooked, the vegetable has been a staple of lovers for centuries. The French tradition includes three courses of asparagus the night before one’s wedding. In the 17th century, Culpeper, in his Complete Herbal, claimed that it “stirreth up bodily lust in man or woman.”

Asparagus definitely does a body good, containing calcium, phosphorous, potassium and vitamin E. It boosts energy, aids the urinary tract and kidneys and helps with hormone production.

Although I have no faith in it medically as an aphrodisiac, its elegance and flavor can certainly contribute to romance.

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Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.