Sunday, September 21, 2008

Aphrodisiacs Anonymous

Violet Blue thinks SF's aphrodisiac festival is sure to arouse, and asks chefs how

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Got any space in your copulation calendar for some sexually stimulating food? When I first heard about next Monday's A Food Affaire, I thought whoa -- an aphrodisiac feast and intentionally flirty atmosphere event -- in San Francisco? As if ramping up the sexiness of The City were even possible, or practical: With so much sexual energy here, such a thing might cause too much friction between space and time, or attract a meteor to smack our Sodom by the Bay. Just to get a piece of the action, at the very least. On Monday, Sept. 22, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) presents A Food Affaire: Twenty of San Francisco's finest chefs are going to make the most sexually arousing ingestibles they can imagine. The epicenter of all this delicious decadence will be Ruby Skye, but there's no doubt that next Monday that particular kitchen's heat will be felt by denizens citywide.

I'm not concerned; OK, I'm a little worried that it'll spoil (NSFW) Folsom (or that some impatient couple will use rose-petal Jell-O as lube in the washroom). But I'm really excited to see what our city's chefs come up with when their wildest aphrodisiac imaginations get to come out and play for a night.

Aphrodisiacs are ingestibles -- foods, liquids, herbs, edibles, lickables -- that enhance or possibly cause sexual arousal. We all know that sexual arousal starts in the brain (most of the time), so it's a no-brainer that if you believe that chocolate will make you mindlessly horny, even the suggestion that it might, will do the trick (right before you do the trick).

But do they really get more than your heart pumping? A nice banana certainly holds an intriguing promise, at least visually (for some of us). Besides the visual, the aphrodisiac is in some instances considered to be somewhat medicinal in nature, acting on the body through physical means -- such as stimulating blood flow to the genital regions. For instance, yohimbine is derived from the bark of an African evergreen tree, and while it's been traditionally used as a sexual stimulant in its place of origin, the NIH states that the standardized form of yohimbine (hydrochloride) has been shown in human studies to be effective in the treatment of male impotence and is available as a prescription medicine in the United States.

Studies and drugs aside, the taste, look and feel -- or even reputation -- of an aphrodisiac is the key to its alleged sexual powers. And there may be something to all of it: For instance, chocolate has been linked to raising serotonin levels in the brain (feel-good chemicals). And it gets melty, and slippery, which could be a lot of fun if applied directly to affected areas. Of course, you could just watch The Food Affaire 2008 video (shot on the streets of San Francisco) and get totally teased.

The term "aphrodisiac" is of course derived from the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, so A Food Affaire could be seen as a ritual d'amour -- which it may very well be for the select chefs putting thought and effort into what they're saucing, kneading and serving up. I caught up with one of the top San Francisco chefs participating in the event, the esteemed Tim Luym, executive chef of Poleng Lounge, who exclaimed, "I'm excited to see the creative ways the chefs are going to incorporate aphrodisiacs into their food at the event." I asked him what his own devious plans for this feast of Cupid's cuisine were...

Violet Blue: What will you be making for the event?

Tim Luym: I will be making a spicy Balinese lemongrass satay sampi.

VB:What gives your dish the power to arouse?

TL: The dish will arouse the senses in two ways. Visually, the shape of the satay is rather phallic -– resembling that of the male reproductive organ. The visual aspect is used to attract and catch attention. The other is the mental stimulation factor. There are more than a dozen spices and other ingredients pounded into the spice paste that is mixed with the meat. The most powerful spice that releases the endorphins are the red Fresno and Thai chili peppers. Peppers are natural stimulants-–that is why many people are "addicted" to the heat, as it makes them feel good.

VB: Is there anything at Poleng you'd recommend especially for lovers?

TL: Poleng is a great place for lovers. The small, shared plates creates intimate interaction between people, the loungy music sets the sultry vibe. Lovers should definitely try some of the tea-infused elixirs like the calamantini or sparkling sakes. If you really want to heat things up, go for the emperor's cup (60 oz of your favorite elixir!).

VB: Does the ordinary person have a sex shop in their kitchen, and if so, what ingredients might someone have on hand to sex up a meal?

TL: Most ordinary people do have a "sex shop" in their kitchen. Just from some of the tools lying around I'm sure you can use your imagination. Regarding food though, the subject at hand, most people have many ingredients and elements already in their kitchen. Wine, chocolate, coffee, almonds, pistachios, various spices like nutmeg, chilis and peppers, avocados, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, figs, garlic, ginger, arugula, basil, asparagus, honey, vanilla extract are just some of the elements they can utilize for cooking sexy time dinner.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) will present A Food Affaire, Monday, Sept. 22, from 6:30pm to 10:00pm (VIP Event Begins at 6pm); Ruby Skye, 420 Mason Street; ticket price is $150 VIP or $100 for general admission, per person. For more information, visitfoodaffaire.comor call 415.781.5348. Although the event is aimed to arouse and excite, guests might get a little extra excited to know that A Food Affaire benefits the GGRA's Scholarship Foundation, providing students with scholarships to help fund their tuition towardscareers in restaurantsand hospitality.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2008/09/18/violetblue.DTL

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