How to Woo Your Partner: Tu B’Av and The Art, Myth, and History of Aphrodisiacs

How to Woo Your Partner: Tu B’Av and The Art, Myth, and History of Aphrodisiacs

“I didn’t know if it was day or night
I started kissin’ everything in sight
But when I kissed a cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
He broke my little bottle of Love Potion Number Nine”

[“Love Potion No. 9,” Leiber & Stoller (originally performed by The Clovers), 1959)

 Introduction

As I peruse through the woman-focused magazines at doctor’s waiting rooms or my wife’s hair stylist, I am always amazed at the number of articles dispensing advice on how women can please their men, how to get a man to date you, and what men find attractive about women. By contrast, most traditional “men’s” magazines are filled with stories concerning automobiles and sports. Is this divergence in content so prevalent because men are just so amazing that we know everything about women that we do not need to read such rubbish? That is not true, and both sexes would agree (although men might not admit it publicly). If you ask any women, they would most probably tell us that not only do we need to read related articles, but we need to read entire books on these subjects – especially how to please your partner.

After almost twenty years of blissful matrimony, I have discovered that anytime you ever figure out any aspect about your partner, that knowledge will most probably be altered – maybe not that week, and maybe not that month, but somewhere down the road. The insight you once thought you mastered will become useless. However, there are some general rules that might be of help, and this month, in honor of the ancient holiday of Tu B’Av (ט”ו באב), the 15th of Av in the Hebrew calendar), and its modern dual resurgence as Hag HaAhava (חג האהבה‎), the “Holiday of Love,” I will share some conventional wisdom handed down through the ages (and articles found on the Internet) while intertwining it with facts about the holiday – plus a few fascinating tidbits about the history and origin of aphrodisiacs (whose assistance men count on to fill the gaps created by our inherent male ineptitude on the subject of relationships).

Tu B’Av is an anomalous holiday within the Jewish religion. While there is a great deal of information (sometimes in great detail) as to how to observe and celebrate many Jewish holidays, there are only two references in the Shulchan Aruch (שֻׁלחָן עָרוּך‎: Code of Jewish law) on how to observe this holiday. The law specifies that: (1) the tachanun (תחנון: “supplication” – a prayer for the confessions of one’s sins) and similar portions are to be omitted from the daily prayers on days with festive characterizes (Halacha 14), and (2) Torah study should be increased beginning on the 15th day of Av (Ta’anit 31, Rashi and Avot 1:13). Whereas many holidays are full of traditions and customs, for this holiday the customs are just as sparse. Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus wrote that this was a great day of wood offering, where people would bring firewood to the temple altars (for sacrifices during the whole year). Josephus (War of the Jews, ii. 17:6) refers to this celebration as the Feast of Xylophory (wood-bearing) and places it on the 14th of Av. This day is also called the breaking of the axe (discussed further below) and may have some correlation with the ancient Syrian celebration of De Syria Dea where large bonfires were built to celebrate the midsummer.

One of the rare traditions written about in the Talmud (Mas. Ta’anith 26b) is the tale of the “daughters of Jerusalem” dancing in the vineyards on the 15th of Av, while calling out to the unmarried men (who would attend the performance for the purpose of finding a wife). In full, the Talmud states:

On these days the daughters of Jerusalem used to walk out in white garments which they borrowed in order not to put to shame anyone who had none. All these garments required ritual dipping. The daughters of Jerusalem came out and danced in the vineyards exclaiming at the same time, young man, lift up thine eyes and see what thou choosest for thyself. Do not set thine eyes on beauty but set thine eyes on [good] family. Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the lord, she shall be praised.

Try to picture in your minds a field full of beautiful young women dancing across the vineyard wearing flowing white dresses, their hair blowing freely in the gentle breeze as they move to and fro across the field harmoniously with the rhythm of the music as the moonlight shines down upon them – it must have been a wondrous sight to behold. The obvious intent of this annual ritual is to match men and women for marriage, which is the principal concept for transforming the ancient celebration of Tu B’Av into a modern Day of Love (Hag Ha’Aavah), with parallels to the contemporary celebration of Valentine’s Day. The celebratory premise of an ancient venerable observation has been expanded to include a commemoration to the romanticism between unmarried couples, as well as a day for re-kindling the fire between newly, and not-so-newlyweds. In recent years, some communities in Israel have begun celebrating this ancient custom by organizing events whereby single women would dance in vineyards and fields, as well as other mixer-type social events in social settings. However, picking a partner (even for one date), and eventually keeping your partner for the long term is a whole lot harder today than it was hundreds of years ago.

Please also note that this idea of a general day of love is not universally accepted in all segments of Jewish society. Some believe that this holiday should only be focused exclusively on the love between a husband and wife, and between Israel and G-d. Although the refashioned holiday may be picking up steam in Israel, the idea for this type of ancillary celebration may never become a national holiday. In a dissertation written about Tu B’Av by Greg Killian in 2012, his stance on this subject is clear, and explains his objections to the expanded ritualization of this holiday, in light of Rabbi Gamliel’s writings in Taanit 26b (as discussed above): “In the wake of this famous Mishna at the end of Tractate Taanit there are many who call Tu B’Av, the “Love Festival.” Yet, it would be more appropriate to call it the “Matchmaking Festival,” or perhaps “Choose-Day,” because the girls approach the young men so that they pick the wife of their choice. Obviously, love lurks somewhere in the background; not promiscuous, unrestrained “free-love”, but a pure love that develops between a young man and his single and unique heart’s choice. So, let’s go out on a journey of choice.”

My wife and I were happy for 20 years – then we met.” (Rodney Dangerfield)

How To Treat A Lady

This article is not about how to request a date with someone of your liking. There are tons of websites that provide tips for asking a person out. Today, however, we will focus our attention on how to seduce an individual after you have landed that first date or even after years of marriage. So, how do you seduce a woman? According to Men’s Health (http://www.menshealth.co.uk/sex/more/seduce-her-in-seconds-123324), based on recent research, the tricks to seducing a woman are as follows: (1) look her directly in the eyes when talking, (2) speak in a deep voice, (3) wear red, (4) and touch her wrists. Also be confident, and remember, we do not need to look like Brad Pitt to be attractive to our partners. ThoughtCatalog.com (http://thoughtcatalog.com/ella-ceron/2014/05/9-things-women-will-always-find-attractive-in-men/) provides nine characteristics that women find attractive about men: (1) being good with your mom and family, (2) dressing well, (3) being involved in constructive hobbies, (4) making plans, (5) having a sense of humor, (6) not a “yes man,” (7) acts the same around friends as his partner, (8) being a good listener, and (9) able to express yourself in little ways.

[Short commercial: as to #3 above, being involved in the Men’s Club is an excellent, and constructive, hobby to get involved with.]

Take heed all of ye married men reading this, the hints in this article just as easily apply to you as a youngster fresh out of college. The first day of the rest of our married lives begins each day. A number of years ago, when I was still a naive newlywed, I embarked upon a cruise with my wife. During a musical showcase the previous evening, the MC placed the spotlight on a happy couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. As luck has it, we happened to dine at a table with this loving duo for lunch the following day. I asked, what is the success to their long marriage, and the husband answered plain and short – “happy wife, happy life.” At that time, I believed it meant that in order to have a happy marriage, it is the husband that has to do all the compromising and act out the role of the servant to the marriage. However, over the years, I have come to understand the message that he was really trying to convey. I believe that what he was really saying is that no matter how long you are with your partner, you should never stop trying to make them happy (this adage holds just as true for your significant other as it does for yourself).

Once you have made a connection with that special person, and want to spend a magical night together, Men’s Fitness (http://www.mensfitness.com/women/sex-tips/how-to-get-a-woman-into-bed) recommends taking the following steps to closing the deal: (1) be patient, (2) create a romantic ambiance, (3) provide pleasant aromas, (4) play romantic music, (5) find common ground to talk about (not sex), (6) be confident in your talk and actions (but not over-confident), and (7) make her laugh.

I believe that sex is a beautiful thing between two people. Between five, it’s fantastic.” (Woody Allen)

Aphrodisiacs, A Brief History

In creating that romantic ambiance, a dinner out at a romantic restaurant or a home-cooked meal by candlelight prepared yourself is always a nice touch. In choosing a menu, you may consider including ingredients that are considered to be aphrodisiacs. Aphrodisiacs are food and drink that will hopefully stimulate sexual desires in those that have consumed them. Until the last century, aphrodisiacs were classed together with ingredients that brought about fertility, and shall be included in our historical discussion. The use of aphrodisiacs is nothing new. These miraculous foods and philters have been used by potential lovers (successfully and unsuccessfully) for millennium. Some of these ancient cultures have used aphrodisiacs are as follows:

Ancient Hebrews: References to aphrodisiacs are found throughout Hebrew texts. For instance, the use of an aphrodisiac was written about in the Book of Genesis (30:14), which states: “[A]nd Reuben went out during the harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and he brought them to his mother Leah” Leah used a melon/fruit called duda’im (דוּדָאִים), or more commonly named mandrake, to reverse her sterility so she would be able to have more children. But also note, Rashi and some scholars have commented that duda’im might be referring to jasmine or another fragrant spice or fruit. In Judges 5:25, Jael is thought to have given Siserah milk instead of water so that she would become sleepy to make it easier to entice him to go to bed with her (I would argue here that he slipped her a Mickey instead of providing a true aphrodisiac). Aphrodisiacs discussed by Rabbinic law in the Talmud (Tosefta Zabim 2:2) proscribe ingredients such as: milk, cheeses, fat meat, old wine, pounded beans, eggs, and fish brine. These items, as well as garlic, pepperwort, purslane, and garden rocket [the last three items are types of plants] should be abstained from by priests prior to Yom Kippur (Yoma 18a) in order not to become overly stimulated. Small fish are said to promote sexual desire, fertility, and increase one’s strength (Berakhot 40a). In Baba Kamma 82a, it suggests that garlic should be eaten on Fridays because it “keeps the body warm, brightens the face, increases semen, kills parasites in the bowels, and fosters love and jealousy.” Wine is also mentioned in the Talmud as a powerful sexual stimulant and leads to inhibition which may lead to evil (also See Isaiah 28 for the perils of drinking strong wine). In Gittin 70a, the Rabbis provide a recipe for a potion of boiled wine mixed with ground safflower for newlyweds not familiar with marital intercourse.

Ancient Egyptians: The ancient Egyptians worshiped Min as a deity for fertility in the 4th millennium BCE Min was associated with lettuce, and therefore as an aphrodisiac not just for fertility, but also to arouse sexual desires. Egyptian priests were not allowed to eat onions – it was believe that the onion’s powers as an aphrodisiac were so powerful it might cause them to break their vows. Other inducers of desire of the Ancient Egyptians included fennel, ginger, coriander in wine, and radishes mixed in honey.

Ancient Greeks: Lettuce was also written about in Greek mythology, but depending upon the story, it can provide potency or impotency. Looking back to Jewish tradition, lettuce signified fertility (Berakot 56a). Plutarch and Dioscorides both wrote about the wild orchard satirio as having aphrodisiacal qualities. Aristotle praised mint as being an aphrodisiac, while Hippocrates wrote that mint weakened the sperm. Other foods written about by the ancient Greeks include: garlic, pomegranates, leeks, mushrooms, and stafylinos (a type of plant), artichokes, and asparagus.

Ancient Romans: Early Romans wrote about the powers of aphrodisiacs at the turn of the last millennium. Pliny the Elder listed such ingredients as horse testicles, donkey testicles and penis, and bull urine to increase sexual performance. However, the recommendations of another Roman, Galen of Pergamaon, a prominent physician and philosopher in the second century (CE) are more appealing, who taught that aphrodisiacs were foods that were warm, moist, and “windy” (i.e., caused flatulence). Some specific ingredients he proscribed were spices such as peppers, carrots, asparagus, and sweet peas. Although the following reference is not as ancient, the fabled Italian lover, Casanova, penned in his memoirs that he ate a lot of chocolate.

Ancient Indians: Vātsyāyana recommends in the Kama Sutra that asparagus, when drunk as paste, can be used as an aphrodisiac. Other Indian beliefs on aphrodisiacs include that the ingesting of snake blood or the skin of the Nilgiri Langur (a type of monkey) would increase sexual libido, as do goat’s testicles boiled in milk.

Aztecs: The Aztecs called the avocado an ahucatl, which translates as “testicle” – it was named as such due to its shape, as well as its supposed ability to act as an aphrodisiac.

Ancient Chinese: Traditional Chinese medicinal treatments, which are still being prescribed today, include beans, deer antlers, ling zhi mushrooms, and the penis of an ox or goat.

Throughout culinary and carnal history other foods in various cultures have been considered to be aphrodisiacs, and include: oysters (because they resemble female genitals), parts of a skink lizard, potatoes, brains of sparrows, ambergris, Spanish Fly, and meat (by St. Thomas Aquinas) to name a few.

According to WebMD.com (http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/aphrodisiacs-through-ages?page=2), alcohol is really the only thing that is certain to work as an aphrodisiac throughout history. It is known to decrease a person’s inhibitions, which could lead to a good time (I guess it depends on their lover). However, too much (alcohol) is not a good thing, so heed the words of the Bard “[i]t increases the desire but it takes away the performance.” [Macbeth, Act II, scene 3]

Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.” (Henny Youngman)

The Origins of Tu B’Av

As mentioned above, to bring men and women together for the first time, or for the ten-thousandth, the celebration of the 15th of Av is slowly being transformed into a day of love. But before we discuss the modern celebration of the holiday, allow me to fill you in on its beginnings. Although references to this holiday in ancient texts are rare, in the first century, Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel (שמעון בן גמליאל‎) wrote that “there never were in Israel greater days of joy than the fifteenth of Av and the day of atonement.” (Taanit 26b)

Let’s digress quickly for just a few moments. Rabbi Gamliel stated that Yom Kippur, a holiday that is hardly mentioned, is one of the two greatest days of joy. Many of you are probably asking yourselves the same question as I did the first time I read this – why is Yom Kippur a day of joy? The answer, I have discovered, is very straight-forward. The Talmud (Tractate Ta’anit 30b) states that Yom Kippur is a day of joy because it is a day of forgiveness in which G-d pardons the Jewish people. To the devout, what can be more joyous than having G-d forgive you? Now back to the regularly scheduled holiday discussion . . . .

Although there may not be an origin to the celebration of this holiday, there are a great number of joyous events in the history of the Jewish people that coincidentally occurred on the 15th of Av. The Talmud (Tractate Ta’anit 30b – 31a) catalogs these events, but some of these celebrations of glee are a reversal of dark hours in the history of the Jewish people:

  1. The annual breaking of the axe (15 of Av). When the Bet HaMikdash (בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ), the Holy Temple, stood in Jerusalem, the 15th of Av would mark the last day that they would cut the firewood for the temple. At the end of the day they would ceremoniously break an axe, and then celebrate the occasion with a feast.
  2. Hebrews were allowed to enter Israel (15th Av, 1274 BCE). In Numbers 13-14, G-d became upset in the lack of faith of the Jews and forbid them from entering the Promised Land until that generation had passed away. After forty years, the last of this generation was now deceased.
  3. Members of the tribes of Israel could intermarry (15th Av, 11th century BCE). The land of Israel was to be divided between the twelve tribes of Israel. In order to ensure that each tribe was given their proper share, the members of each tribe were not allowed to intermarry. This ban was lifted when all of Israel was conquered on the 15th of Av.
  4. Tribe of Benjamin welcomed back (15th of Av, early 11th century BCE). A sad chapter of internally-inflicted Jewish history, came to an end. After an almost complete genocide of the tribe of Benjamin caused by the other 11 tribes, they were allowed back into the fold. What caused the problem, you ask? Well, here’s a short (and clean) version of the story:

A member of another tribe came to a town in the territory of Benjamin with his concubine and found a house, whose owner allowed them stay for the night. A group of men came to the house and wanted to sodomize the man. The owner of the house would not allow them to enter. They stood at the door threatening harm to everyone in the house. Eventually they settled for the concubine, whom they raped and eventually killed. Afterwards, the people of Benjamin did not try to persecute the mob. The man went to each of the other tribes, and they each, in turn, asked the tribe of Benjamin for justice against the accused men. They again refused. The eleven tribes threatened that they would attack if these men were not put to trial. The tribe of Benjamin again refused, and was almost annihilated in the battles that followed.

  1. Roads from Northern Israel to Southern Israel were opened (15th of Av, 574 BCE). After Solomon passed away, the Southern (Judah and Benjamin) and Northern (the other 10 tribes) Kingdoms of Israel split due to long-time political tensions [a story for another day]. But due to the tensions, roadblocks were set up between the borders so that people from the North could not make their pilgrimages to Jerusalem (in the Southern territory). After two hundred years, at the prompting of Hoshea ben Elah (last king of the Northern kingdom), the blockades were taken down.
  2. The remains of the Betar freedom fighters were buried (15th of Av, 148 CE). In defiance against the Roman Empire’s control of Israel, bands of Jews fought back in what is now called the Bar Kochba Rebellion. The rebellion, at its height, took control of 50 strongholds and almost 1,000 towns throughout Judea/Israel (they even began printing their own coins). However, the Romans called in twelve legions, which eventually took back control of all the territories. The Roman army killed thousands of Jews, with the last defeat occurring at the stronghold of Betar in 133 CE. The Romans did not let the Jewish people enter the town to bury their dead appropriately until after the Emperor of Rome (Hadrian) died in 148 CE.

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?” (Groucho Marx)

Tu B’Av, The Holiday of Love

In modern times, the holiday has been rejuvenated and is also celebrated as a day of love. The 15th of Av has become a day for couples to get married, renew vows, or to begin a life together with the proposal of marriage. The day is a day of celebration where partners should kindle the flames of passion with a romantic dinner (aphrodisiacs for two) (with a glass of wine) and some time for mutual pleasure.

There is an age-old romantic connection between Tu B’Av and the heavens. The holiday falls out during the full moon. As we all know, the full moon during ancient times, just as today, is associated with love, romance, and fertility. The full moon is also a symbol of redemption and acts as a celestial signal only six days following the saddest day of the year (Tisha B’Av). The full lunar glow becomes a beacon for displaying the resilience of the Jewish people, and what better way to display it than through the antithesis of destruction – the hopes and joys of matchmaking and marriage.

In the same vein as Tu B’Av, there is actually another Jewish holiday that promotes love and romance. In fact, it occurs once each week – on the Sabbath (Shabbat). Don’t believe me? Even the great rabbinical sages wrote about it. In answer to the question, “how should one delight in the Sabbath?” Maimonides once answered, by eating known aphrodisiacs, such as “beets, large fish, and garlic heads” as the sages had written in Shabbat 118b. He continued his answer about Shabbat by adding that “[s]exual relations are considered a dimension of Sabbath pleasure” (Halakhah 14).

Interestingly enough, intimacy on Shabbat was considered to be a heinous crime. According to the passages in Jubilies, one of the books found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, a person committing such an act should be put to death. This ideal might have been wide-spread, or merely contained to the populace living around Quumran, where the scrolls were found. But the rabbinical sages, especially after the Second Temple, as we have already seen, encouraged sexual relations on the Sabbath.

How lucky for you that this year (2015) Tu B’Av falls on Friday, so get home from work early, drop off the kids for a sleepover at a friend’s house (or the grandparents), share a romantic dinner, attend evening services (for those that are so inclined), and then experience the pleasure of Shabbat in both body and soul while following the commandment in Deuteronomy 5:11 to “Observe the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy” (שמור את יום השבת לקדשו). This is to be conducted in accordance with Exodus 21:10, which states that taking part in conjugal rights can be considered a mitzvah, since sexual relations are a way to reinforce the marital bounds between two people that love each other [and may even be considered a double mitzvah by also adhering to Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply.”]. But also remember, according to the Talmud, whether to have sexual relations in a marriage (or not) is the right of the wife, not the husband (Tractate Ketubot 5). [As an aside – Ketubot 61b specifies exactly how much sex a man must provide his wife, and it depends upon his occupation – for instance, a “man of leisure” must have sex once a day (if so desired by his wife), a camel driver’s time period is thirty days, and sailors get six months.]

Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go it’s pretty damn good.” (Woody Allen)

Aphrodisiacs in the 21st Century

Although modern grocery stores today sell many unique and formerly unobtainable food items and ingredients, some of the ancient foods are not available to us. Even some of the items, such as wheat, are not the same strain as we eat today differing in not only in texture, but also in taste. So, what are the foods we should have our better-halves dine upon to get them in the mood in the 21st century?

Blogger Tori Avey suggests dishes that include: pomegranates, asparagus, beets, coffee, strawberries, chocolate, honey, artichokes, avocado, and figs. To incorporate these ingredients into a dinner, I would propose cooking, or ordering, a beet or avocado salad as an appetizer with pomegranate juice (or as a cocktail) to begin the meal, followed by a light chicken or fish dish with side dishes of asparagus sautéed in garlic and oil, and roasted figs covered with honey, along with a glass (or two) of wine to be shared with your ahava (אהבה: love). This could be followed by chocolate covered strawberries and coffee (decaf) to complete your dining experience, followed by reading some erotic poetry in the Song of Solomon, followed by an evening of unbridled passion.

I am going to interrupt this discussion of aphrodisiac-infused menus with some collateral facts for just a moment. The Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs) is one of the sexiest tales of the bible; some sources are bold enough to refer to it the first book about sex. It tells the story of two lovers and how they please each other spiritually, mentally, and physically (the Zohar even describes the book as being erotic, however, each reader may interpret it in their own fashion. For instance, the line “let my lover come into his garden and taste its delicious fruits” (Song of Solomon 4:16) can take on many meanings [get that smirk off your face]. Judaism as well as Christianity includes this book as part of their own set of scriptures.

There are five “modern” aphrodisiacs recommended by TheBeautyBean.com to get a person in the mood, such as celery, avocados, almonds, chili peppers, and raw honey. For a meal that includes these items, I would suggest something Latin American, such as tacos (beef, chicken, or fish (chopped with chili peppers and celery) as the main entrée, served with with chips and guacamole sauce on the side (or as a “starter”). Accompany these items with a margarita, tequila (make sure you have the salt and lemon or lime), or maybe even a bottle of Corona. For dessert, wrap up the meal up with some Sopaipillas (Mexican Honey Puffs). Then you and tu amor can have a maravillosa noche together.

MyDailyMovement.com lists a few different aphrodisiacs such as bananas, oysters, asparagus, caviar, dark chocolate, champagne, spices (horseradish, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, and oregano), and the article also discusses how certain scents may also create the same effect as aphrodisiacs (e.g., vanilla, orange, cinnamon, chocolate). A meal that infuses these ingredients, is a bit more challenging than the first two groups, but I would create a menu centered upon the protein in fish (use the oysters, if not kosher) and supplement it with the various flavors found in the other aforementioned ingredients. I would advise that you begin with crackers and caviar (the caviar can also be placed on sliced cucumbers, served with chilled absolute vodka (citron). To create the requisite ambiance, I would also light a scented candle prior to the second course, possibly vanilla or orange. The main course would be a broiled spice-rubbed salmon (or whatever fresh fish you desire), lightly breaded de-shelled oysters (or a faux substitute) with asparagus (chopped) baked in a butter and wine sauce, and a flute of champagne with which to celebrate the evening. [For those that do not enjoy fish, I would suggest duck l’orange with roasted and spiced scalloped potatoes.] The meal would conclude with a banana split, highlighted with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with shavings of dark chocolate, warm apple cider sprinkled with cinnamon may be welcomed as an accompanying beverage. After dinner, settle back in a comfy couch or bed to watch a romantic comedy (of her choice), followed by your undivided attention concentrating on her haoneg (הָעֹנֶג: pleasure).

One thing you have to keep in mind, which many of the articles I read pointed out, that placebos work just as well as any of these items. If the person eating the food believes it will create feelings of sexual desire, it will. So, in truth, serve or order food that they enjoy and try to incorporate some of the ingredients you have learned about in this article, so you do not have to lie. The goal is to put your partner in “the mood.” Just make sure that the food they eat is not very heavy – and let the alcohol flow.

To make this article complete, I shall mention herbal supplements that have been “proven” (in limited clinical stuties) to show some signs of helping with sexual desire in recent studies. They include Maca (if taken long term), Yohimbine (works as-needed), and Fenugreek (see SpotMeBro.com for more information and references). Also note, I am not ignoring the discussion about how Valentine’s related days are celebrated around the world (or throughout history), I am saving that for an article somewhere down the line.

Seems to me the basic conflict between men and women, sexually, is that men are like firemen. To men, sex is an emergency, and no matter what we’re doing we can be ready in two minutes. Women, on the other hand, are like fire. They’re very exciting, but the conditions have to be exactly right for it to occur.” (Jerry Seinfeld)

A Recipe For Love

There are other websites with additional suggestions for menu items, but I believe we have touched upon enough of these for the purposes of this article. Now the only thing left to write about is the accompanying recipe. It took me a while to decide upon this month’s recipe. First I had to decide upon which aphrodisiac-related food to choose, then I needed to come up with a recipe that most men that do not know their way around the kitchen would be able to pull off. If you cannot cook, just take your partner out to a nice dinner, however, you could surprise your loved one with a sweet surprise for desert. I was thinking about one that is fairly simple to make, requires very few ingredients, and is as romantic as heck – Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

Ingredients:

2 cups              Strawberries (ripe, and medium in size)

½ cup              chocolate chips (semi-sweet tastes the best (IMHO), but dark chocolate supposedly has the most aphrodisiacal qualities.)

1 tsp                vegetable oil

Directions:

Step # 1:          Wash the strawberries. Dry them afterwards. [The strawberries must be dry for the chocolate to adhere to them correctly in Step 3.]

Step #2:           In small double boiler (1 qt should be fine), add the vegetable oil, then add the chocolate chips. Warm under a low heat until melted (stir frequently). Then remove from heat and bring over to where the strawberries are situated.

Step #3:           While holding stems of the strawberries, dip into the chocolate. Some people like to completely cover them, I personally do it so there is a little red of the strawberry still showing on top. [Hint: Dipping some into the chocolate with a slight angle produces a nice effect.]

Step #4:           Place dipped strawberries onto a tray covered with wax paper (preferred). A well greased cookie tray may also do well.

Step #5:           Place tray of dipped strawberries into refrigerator for about 35-40 minutes (or until the chocolate hardens). Then completely cover the tray with plastic wrap until ready to serve. [Note: before serving, display them into one of the fancy candy trays that are used only when “good” company comes by that you want to impress.]

Step #6:           Serve with coffee (another known aphrodisiac, and keep in mind the aphrodisiac scents by brewing French Vanilla, or adding some cinnamon to any coffee). Or if you would like to serve something alcoholic, champagne is also a very nice touch and makes a nice pairing with this dessert.

    How to Spruce it up:

To add to the aesthetic effect of this dish, you could make half a batch of chocolate and half a batch of white chocolate to give the dish some color. If you have extra melted chocolate, dribble the chocolate across the white chocolate dipped strawberries (and vice-versa) to give them that extra wow factor. You may also cut a few lengthwise before dipping to provide some heart shaped treats.

 “Happy Wife, Happy Life.” (Unknown)

 Keep Cooking,

Chef Lon E

 

Sources

Note: This article was enjoyable to write, but needed a lot more research than I had originally considered when choosing this topic. The reason being, there was a lot of sub-topics that I touched that I knew little about and wanted to ensure I had some knowledge about them before I wrote about them, for instance, most of the six events that occurred during the 15th of Av, I had only heard of before writing this article. There are many sources below, but hopefully they will come in useful to anyone that would like to further research any of the topics I had touched upon above.

Religious Text

  • Avot 1:13
  • Baba Kamma 82a
  • Berakhot 40a
  • Berakot 56a
  • Deuteronomy 5:11
  • Exodus 21:10
  • Genesis 1:28
  • Genesis 30:14
  • Gittin 70a
  • Halacha 14
  • Judges 5:25
  • Ketubot 5
  • Ketubot 61b
  • Shabbat 118b
  • Song of Solomon (generally)
  • Song of Solomon 4:16
  • Ta’anith 26b
  • Ta’anit 30b
  • Ta’anit 30b – 31a
  • Ta’anith 31, Rashi
  • Tosefta Zabim 2:2
  • Yoma 18a

Books

  • Marital Relations in Ancient Judaism, Etan Levin (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2009)
  • The Medical Legacy of Moses Maimonides, Fred Rosner (KTAV Publishing, Hoboken, NJ: Dec. 1997)
  • Medicine in the Bible and the Talmud, Fred Rosner 1995 KTAV Publishing, Hoboken, NJ: 1995) pp 127-131
  • Treatises on Poisons, Hemorrhoids, Cohabitation, Moses Maimonides (Maimonides Research Institute: 1984)
  • War of the Jews, Josephus, ii. 17:6 (Project Gutenberg: 78 C.E.) @ http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2850/2850-h/2850-h.htm

Online

A special thank you to Michael B for his help as a consultant on this article.

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One thought on “How to Woo Your Partner: Tu B’Av and The Art, Myth, and History of Aphrodisiacs

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