Thursday, August 20, 2009
Vanilla as an Aphrodisiac
I've been doing to some studying.
Vanilla originated in Mexico, Central America and the Carribean and is now grown in tropical climates all over the world. It's an orchid pollinated by hand and dried before use, making it the most labor intensive agricultural product on earth. So it's expensive (unless you skip the grocery store shelves and get it wholesale or direct from an importer- zing! Try $2 a pod if ye be savvy!)
Vanilla and Cacao (which is turned into chocolate) both require the same growing conditions and hence grow in the same Mexican regions. I've heard it said that the air-loving vanilla orchid will sometimes vine itself into a cacao tree.
The Aztec drink Chocolatl was mainly composed of cacao and also included vanilla along with corn, allspice, and chilies. The drink was served to cap off a big feast. Purportedly, Montezuma ate very little at the feasts yet imbibed impressively upon the Chocolatl. There were a lot of ladies in his harem. The Spanish noticed this and brought plenty of vanilla back home (in addition to gold, natural resources, and anything else they wanted- keep it classy, Colonialism!) But Diderot (who wrote the first encyclopedia), advised against excessive intake of vanilla because of its heating properties. It makes you hot, in other words. That's the same reason it's an effective aphrodisiac for men. By the Law of Similars, the vanilla bean is clearly useful for male virility. It's long and loaded with an infinitesimal number of seeds.
Totonaca women of Central America rub the drying beans all over their bodies and men sometimes wear the beans in their hats. In the 1800's Dr. John King recommended vanilla to "stimulate the sexual propensities." Neurologist Alan Hirsch recently found that the one scent that most aroused men, measured by penile blood flow, was... vanilla! When vanilla extract first became available in the early 1900's, American women would dab it behind their ears.
Here's an easy way to enjoy vanilla:
Vanilla Whipped Cream
1 Vanilla Bean (halve it lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with a knife- use the seeds)
1 cup Heavy Cream (organic)
1-2 tsp agave nectar folded in
dash of cinnamon
Whip everything together until lofty, except the agave- fold that in at the end. Serve over something warm and gooey. Or depending on how the night goes, eat it straight.
Also, I just learned this week that youngest races come from the Americas. As young as 15,000 years old in these parts. Some European racial families are as young as 20,000 years. The oldest family is of the Khoisan people in Southern Africa- 200,000 years back. That's in the most recent National Geographic issue, which is so so good this month.