The aphrodisiac power of saffron

From the day early man realized that a pinch of spice could make a meal taste better, spices have been a thing of desire both for the kitchen and the bedroom. I’m not sure why the story of so many spices became tied with sexual prowess and fertility. But their early reputation sparked men to risk their lives and travel the world to obtain the most potent and flavorful spices. Saffron, a rare, Eastern beauty, is one of the ingredients at the top of the list of the world’s most legendary spices.

In many cultures, the golden spice was considered most effective when used on women. According to one Greek myth, eating saffron for a week would make a woman irresistible to her lover. But the Romans adopted a slightly differing opinion, using saffron to scent the baths of both aristocratic gentlemen and their female lovers.

Its slightly pungent, herbal taste and stunning hue dominate in the cuisines of the Middle East, but its allure crosses cultures, adding spice to Europe’s glamorous Mediterranean coast. It provides that certain something that gives bouillabaisse and paella their unique flavor.

Thanks to a study in 2011 at Canada’s Guelph University, we now know that there’s something to the folkloric claims. The research showed that saffron (along with ginseng) improves sexual function.

Albertson, Ellen, and Michael Albertson. Temptations. New York: Fireside, 2002. Print.

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