Casanova may be well known for his romantic conquests, but not everyone knows that he often used food as a way to a woman’s heart.
Ancient Egyptians used fennel as an aphrodisiac, and honey was thought to “sweeten” a marriage. Foods such as strawberries, ginseng and coriander were considered ways to arouse ancient Greece’s Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.
Throughout the ages, food has been used to enrapture the opposite sex. But the foods in and of themselves are not the only property that entices; their presentation, texture, and size make all the difference when it comes to wooing the one you love.
You don’t have to take that special someone out to an expensive restaurant to win his or her heart. Instead, here are 6 lessons in the art of food seduction to help you romance the object of your desires with a simple meal.
1) Know Your Food History
Civilizations including the ancient Greeks used pomegranate to seduce members of the opposite sex. Photo by vintagedept.
When planning a menu, look to the past to find foods that will rock the socks off your sweetheart.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and even Romans closely studied foods and their effects on the heart. Native Americans determined the health benefits of many herbs, fruits and vegetables along with the foods’ abilities to increase affection.
Certain foods, such as the pomegranate, have crossed over cultures and generations as a forbiddingly romantic food. Offering a food that has impacted so many different types of people over time can add the wow factor to any meal.
2) Looks Count
Presentation is key for delighting your date. Photo by waferboard.
How food is presented is just about as important as how it eventually will taste. The way that food looks triggers your loved one’s digestion to start its process, which is one reason for the saying, “people eat with their eyes.”
Take what is special about eating out at a restaurant and apply it at home—large plates with small portions and strategically placed and stacked food.
For example, greens can be gently placed on top of a few thin slices of beef, with thinly shredded cheese complementing both. Carving vegetables into flowers or adding raspberry sauce and mint to a slice of chocolate cake makes the meal all that more delectable.
3) Pick Foods that Feel Good Together
Pair foods whose textures melt together in the mouth like pasta and shrimp. Photo by Averill.
The texture of food often applies just as much as the presentation when it comes to romancing your love interest.
Make sure to pair foods together whose textures complement each other to create a well-rounded meal.
Which foods go together well depends, of course, on the type of cuisine you are focusing on. It’s easy enough to pair pasta with shrimp and white wine, as Italians living on the coast have taught us.
Lightly cooked vegetables with a ginger–soy sauce placed beside white rice is a texturally-appropriate choice from several Asian countries.
Take a risk mixing the foods of two different cultures together—such as a gourmet curry pizza—but be sure to test out the textures and flavors of food before serving them to your date.
4) Get the Size Right
Too much food can make for a tired end of the evening. Photo by greggman.
An eight-course meal may sound like a fantastic idea when you are excitedly planning a special dinner, but in reality, too much food can kill the prospect of a long evening filled with conversation and dancing.
Serving several courses over a longer period of time, say two to three hours, is common in romantically-inclined cultures such as Spain and Italy.
However, the portion sizes in these countries are much smaller and are usually limited to five courses including dessert. Keep your belly from getting overstuffed and your energy from hitting the ground.
5) Consider the Details
Handmade chopsticks can add an authentic and special feeling to your meal. Photo by Identity Photogr@phy.
Attention must always be paid to ambiance—playing soft, sensual music and keeping the lighting low usually tops off the list.
But how you eat also determines the art of food seduction. Something as simple as using wood-carved chopsticks instead of forks and knives can completely change the feeling of an evening.
Foods eaten with the hands—like Ethiopian cuisine—can be connecting to some couples, while being seen as messy by others.
Find out what your love interest likes when it comes to eating their meals. Do they like to sit on the floor or a bar-stool? Figure out those details before the meal.
6) Help the Meal Go Down
Small amounts of wine can help with the digestion process. Photo by isante_magazine.
When it comes to food seduction, how food moves through the body is tantamount. A meal can be excellent, but if it doesn’t sit well, romance may be hard to come by.
One way to ensure a happy stomach is to eat digestion-stimulating foods before the meal, such as kimchi with an Asian meal, yogurt with an Indian meal or sauerkraut with a German meal.
Fermented foods such as these stimulate digestive enzymes to be released, making the process of food traveling through the body much more pleasant.
Small amounts of wine can also increase digestion.
What else is important when it comes to the art of food seduction? What would you include on your romantic menu? Let me know in the comments below.
If you liked this article, you might also like: 10 Irresistible Paris Pastries (and Where to Eat them).
Main image: The ancient Greeks used strawberries, ginseng and coriander to arouse the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Ancient Cities.