Freud theorized that our first sexual gratification comes from oral stimulation. The baby receives not just nourishment from suckling at the mother’s breast, but also gets warmth, security, and love. Children continue to take delight and comfort from food as they grow, often playing with their food and creating unpalatable combinations that they nevertheless enjoy. Although our tastes become more sophisticated as we reach adulthood, food remains an important part of our sensuality. This is especially true around Valentine’s Day, but it’s worthwhile to celebrate with food throughout the year.

Traditionally, we associate romance with chocolate, but it’s also fun to spoil ourselves with other wonderfully sensual and sinfully expensive foods. French champagne comes to mind, as do Beluga caviar, thinly sliced smoked salmon, and extravagantly marbled cuts of beef. Neither our pocketbooks nor our hearts allow us to eat that way every day, but splurging is good for the soul, not to mention our romantic relationships. Here are my recommendations for a sensual feast.

Oysters are considered an aphrodisiac, and my dh loves them. Unfortunately, he likes them fried, which involves a lot of messy breading and hot oil all over the stove. Not romantic, at least not for the person doing the breading and frying – me. Instead, I think I’ll start our meal with an earthy mushroom soup that I’ve made the day before. Here’s my recipe. (Note the butterfat content of all my recommendations. Unless you have a cardiac condition, this is no time to act like a Nervous Nellie, food-wise. Chocolate didn’t really take off until sugar and butterfat were added to it. ‘Nuff said.)

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ pound mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tsp fines herbes or 1 Tbsp or more of your favorite fresh herbs, chopped
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth
cream (approximately ½ cup)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a pot and add the onions, garlic, herbs, and mushrooms. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add the chicken broth and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cream and salt and pepper to taste.

I’ll probably follow that with a baked potato – lots more opportunities for butterfat there – and rare steak. A marinated and broiled chicken breast would work, too, just be careful not to overcook the delicate meat.

How to make the vegetable sinful? Easy. Out of season asparagus costs a bundle, and it cooks up into the most delicious little phalluses you can imagine. Add some hollandaise sauce, and you’ve gone beyond sin to decadence. Julia Child has a no-fail recipe for hollandaise in Julia Child and More Company (Knopf). (My tip – a bowl set over boiling water in a saucepan is safer than using direct heat and easier than using a double boiler.)

Finally, I’ll finish with a chocolate fondue. We’ll dip chunks of pound cake and whatever lush fruits I can find into the following concoction (from SOAR, Searchable On-Line Archive of Recipes, www.recipesource.com):

Chocolate Fondue

1 pt. whipping cream
1 14-oz bar of Lindt bittersweet chocolate
1-2 Tbsp liqueur (orange or hazelnut is nice)

Slowly, with stirring, melt the chocolate with the cream. When smooth, stir in the liqueur of your choice.

So, throw caution to the winds one day soon, and treat your lover to whatever sensual foods the two of you most enjoy. Forget your budgets and especially forget your diets. Bon appétit!

Alice Chambers

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