An ostentatious affair with food

Sex and food are interconnected, exhausted topics in society and culture. Aphrodisiac is a popular buzzword, rich with the intriguing implication that foods with certain mystical potency can help a man or woman arouse their partners or prolong their longevity in the sack.

It is humorous, the thought of a little oyster making a big impact in bed, or the outdated (but occasionally still practiced) Chinese belief that eating a certain animal body part will imbue that specific organ with enhanced properties. Suddenly, the practice of eating a tiger’s penis to boost masculine virility is an enlightened concept.

It’s odd that the tiger is the common choice, when allegedly a boar’s orgasm lasts about 5 – 10 minutes. I mean, it just sounds like, you know, more fun.

Moving away from animals and their sexual prowess, what I want to talk about is foods that are sexy, romantic and even a little bit dirty.

Fergus Henderson, a pioneering chef credited with the idea of “nose to tail” eating (a philosophy that every last bit of the animal should be eaten), speaks with clear eloquence on the subject.

No man writes with such elegant prose and pure poetry in a cookbook as Henderson does whilst describing the consumption of half a roasted pig’s head. A “perfect romantic supper for two,” he says. “Imagine gazing into the eyes of your loved one over a golden pig’s cheek, ear and snout.” Consider this in a week’s time.

It is romantic and incredibly sexy for two reasons. First, the recipe takes time and a lot of effort –any partner who is willing to go through procuring a head, cleaning it (shaving is involved), and being able to share the meal is one to keep.

There’s of course the idea of having a little tongue and cheek in your dinner, literally. I will now make the inappropriate yet oh so predictable comment that you also get a little head with your meal.

Furthermore, any lady out there who has no problem excavating a pig’s skull to scoop out the creamy brains is someone I will automatically find sexy. It speaks volumes of being adventurous and respectful of animal life that was sacrificed for our nourishment.

If you’re out there, call me.

Anthony Bourdain, an excellent food writer, admits that “using sexual metaphors to describe food is a practice blithely, even automatically employed by most food writers,” myself included.

Indeed, how can we best describe the most delicious and sweet of the more “mundane” ingredients out there? Would you describe a carrot as orgasmic? Perhaps depending how it’s being utilized.

But of course, many a phallic-looking vegetable and fruit abounds, at which we can giggle at privately in our head and publicly among those we’re comfortable around.

The butternut squash, a particularly delicious specimen, is a prime example, with its slightly curved body and rounded base. Roasted glistening in butter and set among a bed of alfalfa, let the mind wander.

For the ladies, melons and buns are easy analogies, repeated to the point of cliché.

Talking about something like a burger, however, is another thing. Sexy (and dirty) they are, not because of the food itself, but of the time, place and experience.

Imagine walking into any fast food joint at night. The lighting is harsh with white lights that glare into your soul, the kid’s meal an illusion of family conviviality. You know it’s wrong to come here, but you can’t resist temptation. A single or double patty? Why not go all the way – you’ve already gone astray.

The cashier looks bored. He’s been around the block before and seen plenty of us already come in and out this evening, always slightly ashamed, laughing self-consciously at the size of their biggest burger. You decide on something beef related, a mashed-up, dirty, industrially-stripped piece of cow, forced into patty submission and irradiated to kill the salmonella.

It doesn’t matter how filthy the meat is because when you bite into it, you’re surrounded by others indulging in their own little grotesque world. Liquid from animal protein gushes out, runs down your finger and you wallow in a carnal primal pleasure. You try to console yourself, saying a salad will suffice next lunch and that you’ll only eat half of the fries. Don’t kid yourself.

You go through the motions: burger, fry, sauce. It’s hot, sticky, messy – appropriate only for solo action. The climax is near, just when the body tells you you’ve had enough…

Exhausted, you grin over what just happened, your lust satiated for one more meal.

As you leave the scene, life choices are questioned. Maybe I should have stayed home with the lady and made us a beautiful elegant plate of roasted vegetables? Or the comforting reliability of soup and stews, which never judge and will always support.

But no, it’s a hookup you wanted tonight. An affair most ostentatious and promiscuous – the kind that would make Ashley Madison blush.

Whoever said chocolate was better than sex doesn’t get out enough.