Sexy Food in Philly

PW’s gastronomical guide to gettin’ it on.

By Tim McGinnis
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 9, 2010

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Taste and sea: Izumi's uni is packed with feel-good molecules, like anandamine.

Get excited, because some mixture of martyred Catholics, Geoffrey Chaucer and ancient Roman fertility festivals tells us to rut the day away like frantic animals on February 14. But for the unlucky-in-love, that fateful day will bring depression and disappointment rather than naked bedroom romps. We’re referring to the chefs that’ll be serving boneless pork this evening, and the frigid females that’ll send it back. We’re prescribing edible aphrodisiacs because, believe us, we feel your pain. Goodbye emptiness, hello orgasm!


Casanova reportedly ate 50 oysters each day for breakfast in preparation for long nights of conquest, but oysters aren’t the only sea creatures that can put you in the mood. At Izumi (1601 E. Passyunk Ave. 215.271.1222), the sushi chef skillfully doles out portions of the custardy sea urchin roe known as uni. The melt-in-your mouth echinoderm eggs are full of the chemical anandamide, a cannabinoid neurotransmitter famously triggered in the brain by THC. Anandamide, also known as the bliss molecule, produces a feeling of randy excitement and can prolong pleasure. Belly up to the sushi bar to order a double helping of uni for you and your date and you’ll definitely be helping your chances.

Truffles and Walnuts

In The Physiology of Taste , famed gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin waxes sexual on the truffle, saying it “awakens erotic gastronomical dreams equally in the sex that wears skirts and the one that sprouts a beard.” Truffles are said to contain pheromones that awaken our basic animal instincts and desires, just like that Teddy Pendergrass album you put on after you’ve talked someone back to your place after last call.

Since the Roman Empire, walnuts have been praised for their aphrodisiacal properties and there’s scientific proof to back it up. Walnuts contain the amino acid arginine which enhances blood flow and enlarges blood vessels (as well as any body parts to which blood may be flowing).

You can stuff yourself with both of these sexually arousing foodstuffs in a single dish at Melograno (2012 Sansom St. 215.875.8116). The pappardelle tartufate with housemade pasta and an earthy wild mushroom sauce infused with truffle oil, sprinkled with Tuscan pecorino cheese and garnished with walnuts should be enough to get you going.


Since the beginning of civilization, spices have been nature’s own medicine. Skilled apothecaries have mixed batches of spice blends to treat everything from chest colds to psychiatric disorders.

This Valentine’s Day, cook a meal that’ll end on a real sweet note with a dessert made from the delicious and arousing spices cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. In large doses, nutmeg is a deadly hallucinogen, so we’d advise smaller, safer doses of the seed thought to enhance sexual potency. (In one experiment, nutmeg was found to stimulate mating habits in mice.) Cinnamon is known to increase sex drive by increasing blood flow to your naughty bits and cloves were used in ancient Asian cultures to increase libido. Additionally, cloves ease digestion, control flatulence and counter halitosis (which just makes you less repulsive and a bit more bangable). Buy these sexy spices or experiment with your own copulation cocktail blends at Spice Terminal (Reading Terminal Market, 1136 Arch St. 215.592.8555) 

Chili Peppers

Capsaicin is the chemical compound that’s responsible for the heat in hot peppers and the tingling feeling in your nerve endings after you’ve consumed spicy foods. Some research suggests the intense heat releases endorphins, an opiate-like painkiller and the same chemical released during sex. If you’re interested in pleasuring your partner with food first, Koreans make some of the hottest on earth. At Miran (2034 Chestnut St. 215.569.1200), more than half of the menu has a little pepper illustration warning novices that the dish is hot. Take precaution when compounding hot dishes, though; the kimchi is pickled delight but eaten with the scorching squid gui it doesn’t feel pleasurable no matter how many endorphins are released. ■

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