The shortlist

APHRODISIACS
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Chestnut Blossom

Contains chemicals also found in semen. The Marquis de Sade commented on the stirring effect of this flower's scent. Scatter some in your bath, or take your lover to Paris in late spring when the chestnut trees are in full bloom.

Asparagus

John Gerard said in the 16th century that "the young buds being steeped in wine and eaten stirreth up the lust of the body."

Muira Puama (Liriosma ovata)

Amazon indians use the bark and roots of this plant to stimulate the libido. Pour half a pint of boiling vodka over four tablespoons of powdered bark; infuse for 15 minutes; strain; drink a wine glass full, two hours before jumping into bed.

Bananas

The peel contains alkaloid bufotenine, a hallucinogen. Bake bananas with a lengthwise cut in the skin; serve the flesh, the juice and the scrapings from the inside of the skin.

Cactus Flowers (Cereus grandiflorus)

The large white flowers of this fleshy shrub give off a pungent vanilla scent and bloom for one night only. They contain a cardiac stimulant that can be used as a sexual tonic in an extract, but only in very small doses.

Pussywillow Bark (Salyx Nigra)

The bark contains tannin and salinigrin which have aphrodisiac and tonic properties. Take half a teaspoon of the fluid extract or infuse the bark and drink the strained liquid.

Rocket Cress

Roman statues of Priapus, the son of Venus, whose images had huge erections, were surrounded by beds of rocket. A Persian recipe "for erection" mixes four ounces of rocket seed with one ounce of pepper and honey.

Schizandra (wu wei zu)

A Chinese fruit traditionally used to increase vaginal lubrication. It's now sneaking its way into some soft drinks; forget Pepsi, drink Shizan.

Melon

Melons (especially the cantaloupe variety) contain potassium, a mineral essential to a healthy sexual appetite.

Source: `A-Z of Aphrodisia' by Diana Warbuton, Thorsons, pounds 4.99.

compiled by Colette Harris

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