Be careful calling yourself a “localvore.” Wikipedia defines vorarephilia, commonly shortened to “vore,” as “a sexual fetish and paraphilia where arousal occurs from the idea of being eaten, eating another or observing this process.” From “sploshing” (wet and messy fetishism) to “food dangling” (exactly what it sounds like), fetishes aplenty speak to the power of food in our lives.
But even for those of us who don’t share such proclivities, there’s still something sensual about eating and preparing great food. Everyone has heard rumors of the aphrodisiac properties of oysters, champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. But Seven Days wanted to dig deeper. We asked Vermont food lovers, ranging from chefs to radio personalities, which tastes and textures get them in the mood.
Tom Bivins, executive chef, New England Culinary Institute, Montpelier
There’s something about the fond [browned remnants of searing] that’s left at the bottom of the pan. It’s pure flavor, and I get very excited. I just love that really nice caramelized juice ... Believe me, it’s very easy to clean pans in my house!
I’m from Louisiana, so oysters are a huge favorite of mine. I find eating crawfish a very satisfying experience. You’ve got to pinch the tails or bite the heads. It’s very physical. I think that that’s sort of my feeling about food all around.
Laura Brown, herbalist, Purple Shutter Herbs, Winooski
I have been passionate about pomegranate for years. Anything that has seeds: I find that unbelievably desirable. Long ago, before they became trendy, there was the added allure of finding them. Pomegranate is so passionate. If you crack a pomegranate open with someone, it’s just so romantic.
I love the squishiness of the golden and ruby seeds all so closely gathered together. The fiber of the cactus fruit is similar; it has the tough, spiny outside and the hard little seeds, but this juicy, luscious flesh on the inside. I can’t eat jams or jellies without seeds. There’s something about [rending] the flesh or tearing apart or ripping or biting into the flesh.
Mark Timms, executive chef, Norma’s Restaurant, Stowe
That’s quite easy, actually. Sex is great, food is great, and they go great hand in hand. Not to be vague, but anything where a chef has used fresh ingredients is sexy. When I go the Bluebird [Tavern], and I get a steak tartare made with gorgeous meat, and the egg is fried properly, that’s sexy.
Simple things like a blueberry smoothie, too. I know it’s good for my body, and that’s sexy. I also find molecular sexy; it’s art on a plate. Anything where a lot of thought and attention have been put into a dish is “super-sexay.”
Anything where it’s fresh and not processed, from the heart and soul, is sexy. Recently at Hen of the Wood I had the friggin’ sexiest piece of salmon in my life with a simple aioli. Best piece of fish I ever had. I find that to be ultimately sexy.
Jon Wetzel, owner, Stone Leaf Teahouse, Middlebury
When I get freshly harvested, high-mountain tea, it’s just super fresh and aromatic. It has this strong floral nature to it. It’s not overwhelming; it’s a more subtle tease, in a way. High-mountain oolong ... just keeps on going. You can reinfuse [it] over and over again, and each time the flavor brings out a new thing in the aroma and the smell as the leaves continue to unravel. As it goes, there’s more in the aftertaste. There’s the lingering mouth feel — that you can taste it after you’re done — you’re breathing it.
I was just recently introduced to Taiwanese bai hao. My friend who’s Taiwanese calls it “heavy honey.” It has this extreme scent, even stronger than honey. He sent it as a gift to my fiancée, and on the box he wrote, Caution: Strong aroma. Man will not be able to control himself. She loved it. It’s her favorite tea. I guess it worked, ’cause we’re having a baby!
Gregory Giordano, artist and graphic designer, Burlington
Well, for me personally, kink and food don’t mix ... However, where food definitely is part of the sex is before the kinky-stinky. Enjoying indulgent, exotic foods with your fellow boot knocker is an awesome way to get the juices flowing, particularly if you’re both foodies.
In the end, my experiences with food as aphrodisiac have been when I made dinner: making all kinds of stuff with extreme passion and care, just for her. That, I find, leads to the best food/sex experiences ... When the object of your affections tastes that first bite of amazing food, you see a so, so similar expression to that orgasm that comes later. Best example of this? When my girlfriend made me the most amazing bacon cheeseburger: exotic cheeses, localvore meats. She made me, like, the Ferrari of burgerdom. Two of those bad boys and I was hooked on her shit, no lie.
Jen Roberts, owner, Daily Chocolate, Vergennes
My thought isn’t so much a particular food as a place: the Shoreham Inn ... My husband [Daily Chocolate co-owner Judd Markowski] and I went for my birthday last year ... There’s always great food, always good service, and that’s what does it for me. If I’m comfortable, then I’m happy.
It’s a pretty simple menu. It’s really pretty basic food with fresh ingredients. They do really good steaks and pork chops. I don’t often get steak at other places. It’s amazing all around. The cheesecake is the best.
People definitely get into our black rum caramels. My husband says that black rum caramels really get him going. We purchased the business relatively recently, and [they] did it for him before we owned the place, so he can say that as both a customer and owner.
Joshua Alexander Pfeil, vegan organic live-food chef, A Drop of Joy, Burlington
There are some groups of “raw foodies” who find the diet very sexual. Actually, I am surprised how many foods are considered aphrodisiacs in the raw-food scene. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cacao (who doesn’t want to eat chocolate and have sex?), rose hips, rose-hip chocolate…
There are two foods that I feel like furnishing with notoriety — durian (puzzlingly enough, a “durian party” almost always sounds sexy in the raw-food crowd), and a new celebrity that I add to chocolate for my friends: yohimbe. It is more powerful than one may think; I know a guy who ingested too much yohimbe and “reached fruition” before his proverbial “job” was done. His narrative was not unlike the Jim Levenstein scene in American Pie…
[I]n the raw scene, the foods considered aphrodisiacs usually fit in one or both of two categories: They improve blood flow or they improve general health. These benefits are bound to awaken the sleeping giant in some of the people enjoying their newfound vitality.
It’s amazing how everything through the ages has been called an aphrodisiac. If it was rare or came from somewhere else, when it first came on the scene, it was rumored to be an aphrodisiac.
For me, there’s something special about asparagus. It’s a spring vegetable and, to me, it goes along with that awakening at the start of the season. You can paint with them at the table. You can start to dab each other’s faces ... and things get a little silly. Asparagus is perfect with ham, though there’s nothing terribly sexy about ham.
What I actually think is at the root of the aphrodisiac thing with oysters is the omega 3s. It’s the omega 3s that generate the aphrodisiacal urges. They flush the brain with core influence. The adage is that the most important sex organ is the brain. It’s true…
For me, sushi is the ultimate aphrodisiac — a big hunk of raw tuna. The other thing is fish eggs. Whether it’s caviar or salmon eggs or flying-fish roe, it gets you into this primal place. A martini doesn’t hurt, either. I like a Hendrick's martini. It’s got kind of a cucumber flavor, and a slice of cucumber is served with it instead of an olive. Raw oysters, a plate of sushi, and bingo! No sweets; I think sweets are a huge turnoff.
Charlie Papillo and Lisa Nagle, hosts of “Charlie + Ernie + Lisa in the Morning!” on WVMT
Charlie: For me, it’s not just the food. Hot weather is a factor, too. Think less clothing and going to the beach. There’s lots of eye candy, plus there’s usually more adult beverages involved in warm weather.
The food’s gotta be hot, too. Mexican doesn’t work as well; maybe it’s the beans. You can’t miss with Thai; it goes with the weather — fresh basil, chilis. At Tiny Thai in Winooski, I always ask for the condiments. They have a ground concoction of spices and hot peppers that is guaranteed to make it three-alarm.
Lisa: (1) Big bowl of Corn Pops cereal and milk. (2) Chinese food eaten right out of the carton with chopsticks. (Though not together. In both instances these must be consumed in bed.) (3) There is no greater aphrodisiac than a simmering pot of spaghetti sauce and meatballs. (4) Any grilled meat mopped with vinegary, tomato-y, smoky goodness, which is why I barbecue year round, even in the snow! (5) It used to be a huge, galvanized bucket of steamed mussels with a warm baguette and a six-pack of Beck’s beer, but I developed an allergy to shellfish. Hmmm … too much shellfish?
I always find pine nuts to be a weird one, where I’m just like, “Really?” Aniseed — when you go out for Indian and there’s that little dish of colored candies with anise — I never pass on that. What I find interesting is, I don’t think they’re sensual. Most things that people think of as aphrodisiacs, they’re things that look phallic, like asparagus, bananas, oysters. They look like human anatomy. There’s nothing like that anybody would ever be thinking about aniseed. But if I’m eating that, I’m going to get turned on. I wonder if Indian restaurants say, “We’ll put candy with aniseeds out, and people will go home and have a good time.”
That’s a huge part of eating out, especially. I like to think that people come here on dates and go home and get it on … Especially if alcohol and chocolate are involved, you go out and you have a good time, and you want to get home.
When Abby [Coker, Lechthaler’s fiancée] and I go down to New Orleans, we always go out for oysters … We always get oysters and po’ boys, and that’s what happens.
What Vermont needs is a sexy bakery. When I was living in Boston, I was going to Sweet & Nasty all the time. I just find that so amusing; I’d get desserts and candies there all the time. Everybody should have a chocolate butt.