Some foods, drinks may boost your mood
We get a Leap Day next week so you know what that means - we're going to see a little Sadie Hawkins Day fun.
Al Capp created Sadie Hawkins, the 'homeliest gal in the hills,' for his cartoon strip 'Li'l Abner.' She and every other woman in Dogpatch were allowed to pursue and catch the most eligible bachelors in the holler on Feb. 29. The Sadie Hawkins Day race became a tradition in the funny papers, an Americanization of an old Irish tradition.
Legend has it that St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that men where taking their sweet time to propose marriage to their sweethearts. Patrick finally gave into her persistence and set Feb. 29 aside as the day women were allowed to ask for a man's hand in marriage.
Scotswomen embraced the tradition and their Queen Margaret took it even one step further. Men who refused the proposal would be fined, either in the form of a kiss, a silk dress or a pair of gloves to be given to the rejected lass.
Of course, Sadie Hawkins events are just for fun, so why not create your own event and invite friends for a meal chock full of enticing aphrodisiacs?
Aphrodisiacs are foods or drinks believed to increase sexual desire or fertility. They're named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
Though the Food and Drug Administration has explicitly stated that no foods hold such powers, many people prefer to ignore that finding. They believe in the power of suggestion more; so if they believe something is romantic, it is, right?
Many foods traditionally considered aphrodisiacs are high in certain nutrients that used to be hard to obtain or that bodies were lacking. In the Greek and Roman days, when the idea of aphrodisiacs became popular, people simply weren't as healthy as we are today. Their lack of libido and reduced fertility were probably results of undernourishment. Fertility and reproduction were an important part of society and foods that made it easier to become pregnant were highly valued.
Here is a short list of foods credited as being aphrodisiacs. Some will be familiar.
Oysters - this is the food that immediately comes to mind when folks talk about aphrodisiacs. Legend has it that Giacomo Casanova, the Italian adventurer, author and womanizer, would eat 50 raw oysters before breakfast every day. Oysters are packed with zinc, which evidently triggers an increase in testosterone and other sex hormones. If you don't like to eat oysters raw, you can roast them or toss them on the barbecue grill.
Honey - Considered the nectar of Aphrodite, honey has long been linked with fertility. Newlyweds would faithfully drink honeyed beer and honeyed wine for a month following their marriage - hence the tradition of taking a 'honeymoon.'
Caviar - Eggs of all kinds are traditionally believed to be an aphrodisiac because they represent fertility. Caviar, fish eggs or roe, is another food high in zinc.
Chocolate - The Aztecs called chocolate the 'nourishment of the Gods' and their emperor Montezuma reportedly drank up to 50 cups daily to improve his intimate encounters. It has been proven that eating chocolate releases natural 'feel-good' chemicals into the blood. It is said to contain both a sedative, which relaxes and lowers inhibitions, and a stimulant, to increase activity.
Arugula and radishes - the Romans considered these vegetables divine aphrodisiacs, probably because their spicy tastes stimulated the palate.
Champagne - Viewed as the 'drink of love,' moderate quantities lower inhibitions and cause a warm glow in the body.
Avocado - The Mayans and Aztecs used this as a libido booster and it is said that during avocado harvest season, young women of these cultures were kept indoors, away from the fruit.
Pine nuts - Like oysters, these little nuts are full of zinc.
Chili peppers - Capsaicin, a chemical that stimulates nerve endings and raises your heart rate, is responsible for the heat in chili peppers. Flushed face, racing pulse - perhaps spicy foods and romance do have a lot in common.
Licorice - I don't think they are talking about Red Vines. Anise seed and licorice root have long been considered effective in arousing amorous feelings.
For your Sadie Hawkins Day feast, I found a recipe for a delicious and easy to prepare fish dish with zippy Mojo Verde salsa. If you are pinched for time use a purchased green salsa instead. Add a green salad with lots of avocado and finish the feast with the Chocolate Chile Bread Pudding.
And just for the sport of it, have your guests bring their running shoes and hold your own Sadie Hawkins Day run. Just be sure to give them a head start when you start chasing them through the holler.
Bon appetite! Eat something wonderful!
Fish in Foil with Sweet Onions, Tomatoes and Mojo Verde
Makes 4 servings
3 tablespoons pure olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium red onions, sliced
Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound medium red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 4-pound snapper, gutted, scaled, and pectoral gill cut out (have your fishmonger leave the tail on)
¼ cup purchased green tomato/tomatillo salsa, also known as Mojo Verde, plus extra for serving if desired
1 pound ripe tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup dry white wine
Lemon wedges for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, add the onions, stirring to coat and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. Let cool.
Stack two pieces of aluminum foil that are large enough to wrap the fish in on top of each other. Fold up the sides of the foil so that it resembles a little boat. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into the boat and spread it over the bottom. Lay the potatoes in the boat in one layer and season with salt and pepper.
With a sharp knife make slashes in one side of the fish about 1½ inches apart, going almost to the bone, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat on the other side of the fish. Lay it on top of the potatoes. Spoon half the mojo verdes on top of the fish. Lay the tomatoes on top of it and spoon the rest of the mojo verdes on them, then spoon on the caramelized onions. Pour wine around the fish.
Fold the foil over to enclose the fish, crimping the edges to seal and set on a baking sheet.
Roast the fish for about 1 hour, or until cooked through. (Carefully open the foil to check. The fish should flake easily when tested with a fork.) Cooking times can vary significantly depending on the thickness and type of fish. (The baked fish can be kept warm and still retain its moisture for up to 30 minutes if kept wrapped.)
Chocolate Chile Bread Pudding
Makes 1 large dish, enough for two
1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus additional for greasing ramekin
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened or extra-bitter) chopped
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
¾ cup cubes (½-inch) firm white sandwich bread (from about 2 slices)
Special equipment: An 8-ounce ramekin or a muffin tin with 1 cup muffin cups.
Accompaniment: vanilla ice cream (optional)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter ramekin or 1 muffin cup.
Cook 1 tablespoon butter, cream, chocolate, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne and a pinch of salt in a 1 to 1½ quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in egg until combined. Fold in bread cubes and let stand 5 minutes.
Fill ramekin with bread mixture and bake until puffed and set around edge but still moist in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
From Gourmet, February 2005