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Kurt Michael Friese Headshot

Seduction by Cooking

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There are only two human activities that involve all five senses simultaneously. One is eating. The other is sex. Concurrent metaphors abound, lending credence to the suggestion that the two are very closely related. While people can be described as "hot," "steamy," or even "tasty," food can often be called "seductive," "sinful," or "voluptuous." Food, I contend, is the more important of the two. Don't think so? When is the last time you went a week without eating? Perhaps you see my point.

This month brings us the curious demi-holiday called Valentine's Day. This is a sort of commercialized Day of Atonement when we can attempt to wash away the sins of our previous transgressions and endeavor to reaffirm our love for our chosen mates. It gives some a chance to say, "Despite the tiff about the panties hanging on the shower curtain rod, I honestly can't live without you." Meanwhile others can say, "I don't mind that you ignored my existence throughout the entire Super Bowl party, I still love you."

In many restaurants, it is one of the busiest days of the year. If you are one of the unfortunate souls who reads these words on the afternoon of the 14th, then suddenly realizes that you've made no plans for the mandatory culinary seduction of your sweetie, you may as well tuck your tail firmly between your legs and go face the inevitable wrath now. You will not be able to get reservations at any good, romantic restaurant. Should've thought of that 3 weeks ago. But take heart, gentle reader! There is an out, and if you do it right, the one you love will not only be unaware of your lack of planning acumen, but will likely jump into you arms with a passionate purr.

I may be the only restaurant owner who will tell you that if you want to be truly romantic, don't take your date to a restaurant. Stay home, draw the shades, send the kids to mom's, put the cat out, and cook! Don't worry, you can do it. Keep it simple and go for the aphrodisiacs.

For the carnivores, build your menu around rare beef, preferably tenderloin. Bloody meat arouses the passions. Sure, oysters are what everyone thinks of, but where I live we are 900 miles from the nearest ocean and trying to keep things simple. Serve the beef grilled or seared (you'll want an internal temperature of about 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit) with a little salt and black pepper, and garnish this with some slices of avocado splashed with balsamic vinegar. Why avocado, you may ask, is it an aphrodisiac? Well, consider the name. It comes from the ancient Aztec word ahuacuatl, which means "testicle tree."

All you vegetarians have a lot to choose from in the culinary realm of Aphrodite, but I would suggest keeping your entree centered on mushrooms. An interesting thing, the mushroom. The largest organism ever discovered is a mushroom, though many don't know that because they see only the part that we eat. Most of the organism is underground and can spread for miles. The part we eat is merely the reproductive organ. See the connection? Aphrodisiacs are like that. They rarely have any basis in scientific fact, but often have strong backing in historical, aesthetic or metaphorical lore. So, sauté your mushrooms, in butter if you can, with garlic and red wine (both aphrodisiacs as well).

Herbivore and carnivore alike can share two of the most important items to have on the menu, and they actually have some science behind their status as sexual enhancements (the food, that is): red wine and chocolate. Of course, the effects on mood of both of these are legendary. More than that, though, they can actually compliment each other. Get a good Cabernet Sauvignon like the Simi Landslide, or a Zinfandel like the Peachy Canyon and try them with good dark chocolate.

Don't be nervous, you can do this. The best food is simple food anyway. A great chef named Churnonsky once said, "Cuisine is when things taste like themselves." True in love as well -- be yourself, relax, light a candle, serve a meal and pop a cork. It's what your lover really wants.

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