When I decided it was time to write a feature about aphrodisiac foods, it was not because I was fascinated with the topic. I threw the idea out there because I was scratching my head wondering what locals like to read. Make that “will” read.
A couple of months ago, a wire story about Ben and Jerry’s Schweddy Balls ice cream stole the show from my Camp Carnivore meat cutter’s amateurs-learn-to-butcher account, which ran above the fold as a centerpiece feature the same day. I think Schweddy Balls beat playing with knives 20 to 1, according to the analytics.
And now for a confession – when I come up with story ideas, often it’s one of these “fools rush in” maneuvers. I never stop to consider how I’ll actually execute these promises to deliver content.
For those of you curious about what food writers do when they are not eating (which usually means when they’re sleeping or should be sleeping), let me fill you in. Food writer’s insomnia is all about figuring out who you can get to say what you already know, which in this instance is that aphrodisiacs really don’t work.
So who knows about these aphrodisiacs? Sex therapists? Shamans? Try opening the Yellow Pages and look under the S’s. See how far you get.
Think a restaurant chef wants to talk about bananas, avocados, asparagus and oysters in October? Think again. Early February, maybe, when Valentine’s Day menus are on their minds.
Getting a comment on oysters in land-locked Durango isn’t too much of a problem. Both Chuck Norton (Roadhouse) and Sean Devereaux (Guido’s) can dazzle diners with Friday night oyster offerings, but I doubt either would climb on a soap box waxing on the aphrodisiac value of this bivalve molusk.
I was happy to interview a registered dietitian who said if you want to stir up some lust, think about good overall nutrition. A naturopathic chiropractor shared his own personal story of having advanced-stage, non-Hodgkins lymphoma at age 28. He walked away from traditional chemo and a diet replete with meat, dairy, and pastries, not to mention a well-stocked wine cellar. He’s now a vegetarian who’s never strayed in nearly 30 years from his commitment to eating to live, rather than living to eat. All good food can have aphrodisiac value if it has good nutritional value, he says.
Eventually I called two others – a medical doctor and a psychotherapist who both talked about dopamines and serotonin and pleasure centers in the brain that can make us feel good when we eat chocolate and have sex.
Another local foodie took the conversation beyond food and sex to address food and intimacy. We nurture each other with food, and in the early introductory stages of a relationship, we use food to promise security. Yes, food can lead to sex, he inferred. Maybe that’s why great restaurants figure into the dating gameplan more than, say, hockey games.
I’ve heard other writers say that some stories write themselves, but I’ve not had that happen to me. What I enjoy is wrapping up an interview and reflecting on someone’s words that lead me to another food feature.
When I spoke with Bentley, I heard, “We nurture each other with food.” That’s different than living to eat. And it’s different than using food as fuel or medicine or for sensuality.