Enjoying food and having sex are arguably the two greatest parts of being alive. Since the days of our earliest ancestors, humans have found ways to combine the uniquely sensual and satisfying experiences of eating and boinking. Whether we're rationalizing how gorging on chocolate will contribute to an improved sexual experience or talking our honey into bringing honey into the bedroom, we come by this obsession naturally. Some food excites us because it causes a chemical reaction in our bodies; some, because the mere sight of seeing the individual we desire consume it is sexual and suggestive. Celebrate Valentine's Day — which, come on, really is a day for getting weird and calling it romantic — by embracing the combo, Indy-style.
(Editor's note: We've included location info for the places Kate mentions in the article, but we're well aware that there are tons of spots in Central Indiana to purchase chocolate, wine and the like. Since print space is limited, you can easily find more retailers and restaurants at nuvo.net, some of which may well be within walking distance of your boudoir.)
"Aphrodisiacs" and suggestive eats
We know — nothing's really been absolutely proven to be the edible equivalent of ED treatments or a long session of foreplay. But even though an element of the placebo effect might be at work here, some foods certainly might help with the body's chemistry when sex is on the schedule. Other foods are simply sexy by virtue of their shapes, amirite?
Coffee and tea
Caffeine addicts rejoice: This stimulant accelerates the heart rate while increasing blood flow. Better yet, studies suggest that sipping coffee may even put women in the mood. "Sex and coffee. Bring it," was Rachel Brown's reaction, of Mile Square Coffee Roastery. Her drink of choice would be a cappuccino, due to the seductive blend of smoky espresso and rich, creamy milk. So skip the bar and bring your date to the roastery for a date that's stimulating in more ways than one. Into chai, perhaps? Ginger, cloves and cinnamon all work together to heat things up literally and by getting the blooding flowing just a bit faster. Looking for a good night's rest after the big event? We get it, it's a party tonight, but you still have to work tomorrow. Grab a chai latte, dirty chai latte, or blended chai latte at for an experience that won't keep you up any later than you want to be.
Mile Square Coffee Roastery, 12 E. Ray St., 296-8181, milesquarecoffee.com
Calvin Fletcher Coffee Company, 647 Virginia Ave., 423-9697, cfcoffeecompany.com
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Historically, the word honeymoon was inspired by the honey mead that was given to newlyweds, proving that honey always had something to do with the birds and the bees. Boron, found in honey, regulates sex hormones and provides a natural energy boost, making for a stronger, more lasting experience. Drink honey mead like your randy ancestors of yore at New Day Craft Mead and Cider, which slings a bevy of year-round and seasonal meads featuring honey, such as South Cider and Washington's Folly.
New Day Craft, 1102 Prospect St., 888-632-3379, newdaycraft.com
Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and all things ritual madness, ecstasy and wild abandon was the o.g. orgy master. He knew that red wine really got the party started, thanks to being packed with antioxidants that boost blood flow and circulation. Lisa Bailey, of Louie's Wine Dive suggests their Argyle Pinot Noir in particular, for its approachability, pair-ability, and fantastic notes of cherry and earthiness.
Louie's Wine Dive, 345 Mass Ave., 929-1644, louieswinedive.com
Chocolate is the mainstay of aphrodisiac offerings and bedroom play for a reason: Legendarily associated with the Aztec goddess of fertility and traditional carnal rituals, chocolate seduced the senses of famous lovers from Casanova to Johnny Depp (go watch Chocolat and then try not to have sex with a truffle, we dare you) for centuries. Phenylethylamine is a stimulant found in chocolate, responsible for warm, fuzzy feelings of contentment, excitement and desire. The best part of chocolate (if you can pick just one) is how seamlessly it lends itself to pairing up with other potent sexual stimulants. Figs, cherries, strawberries, honey, pomegranate — you name it and chocolate will probably make it taste like a delicacy (avocado brownies, 'nuff said). The Best Chocolate in Town proves that chocolate is the ultimate indulgent aphrodisiac with their dizzying array of truffles. Varieties include Cabernet Balsamic, Dark & Stormy, Espresso Cardamom, Fiery Pepper, Port Wine & Fig, Dark Strawberry Cheesecake, and Seasonal Dark Cherry. Elizabeth Garber of The Best Chocolate in Town believes that chocolate has a psychological impact when eaten: "You do release different endorphins, so there are chemical reactions that make you feel happy." In addition to their decadent truffles, she suggests truffle pie, suggestive and delicious, featuring chocolate mousse and heavy whipped cream, perfect for two people to take home and enjoy privately. However, for those still wooing, Best Chocolate in Town will be open and serving spicy hot chocolate on Valentine's Day.
The Best Chocolate in Town, 880 Mass Ave., 636-2800, bestchocolateintown.com
Cliché? Sure. But oysters could approach the real deal thanks to amino acids and zinc which improve fertility, sex drive, and increased production of sex hormones. Oysters have been considered both a sensual experience and a bed-rocking booster since the Romans, but their biggest ally came in the form of the great lover Casanova. Casanova was rumored to feast on 50 oysters each morning. Maybe oysters are the real cause of "spring fever," as they are most potent and effective in the spring, which is also mollusk breeding season. Those slurping, squishy sounds, though — and people say that the sounds of sex are unappealing. The absolute craziest thing to know about oysters is that many scientists believe that they are vegan friendly due to their lack of a central nervous system, suggesting that they are akin to plant life! Recess offers oysters from Prince Edward Island (the caraquet) and oysters from British Columbia (the kusshi) through its renowned raw menu.
Recess, 4907 N. College Ave., 925-7529, recessindy.com
Spices and olive oil
Certain spices and oils have quite the lurid reputation, steeped in historical scandal. Nutmeg has been considered an aphrodisiac since early Hindu cultures lauded it for its warming properties and notoriety in stimulating sexual appetites (not to mention ability to sweeten the breath in the era of pre-modern dentistry). Ginger is reminiscent of a phallus and stirred the imaginations of many a young maiden — while also increasing blood flow and body temperature. Famous French courtesan Madame du Barry made ginger even more notorious by legendarily dosing it to her lovers, claiming that it would increase their desire and pleasure. (More extreme and adventurous types, look up the ancient practice called "figging." Whoa.) Cardamom and coriander both played important roles in the Arabian nights as warming and aromatic aphrodisiacs that increased blood flow. Olive oil (a handy lubricant when you are getting down with phallic food and find yourself in need of something to ease the journey) was believed to be the original Viagra, causing a perceived burst of male virility upon ingestion. Shop Artisano's Oils and Spices, where you can try before you buy an exotic array of these and more. Remember: These are PG tastings only.
Artisano's Oils and Spices, 1101-B E. 86th St., 251-4100, artisanosoils.com
Myth has it that upon being scorned, Zeus punished the object of his affection by turning her into a thistle. This story combined with the act of intimately peeling apart the layers to reach the secret center together have both lead to the artichoke being considered one of the oldest aphrodisiacs. Treat your date to a riveting evening of sports and the notoriously delicious spinach artichoke dip at Chatham Tap.
Chatham Tap, multiple locations, chathamtap.com
You thought arugula was just kale's spicy cousin, didn't you? Wrong. Arugula has been documented as an aphrodisiac since the first century A.D., due to being rich in minerals and antioxidants which block libido-busting environmental contaminants. Let's be real though, there is nothing sexy about chewing on a piece of raw greenery together (although replacing your tickling feather for the surprising tease of a bunch or arugula leaves could get interesting). Instead, allow Napolese to smother it on a bed of doughy heaven, gorgonzola, roasted onions and winter squash on the Widow Jane pie.
Napolese, multiple locations, napolesepizzeria.com
Asparagus and avocados
Nothing says sexy like green, bulbous fruit, right? You can thank Vitamin E for any horndog properties these might bring to the table (and the sheets), which triggers sexual responses such as swelling and natural lubrication. Why not take the next step, then? Chocolate and whipped cream are so 1980s; avocado mash is where it's at! The vegan chefs at Three Carrots in the Indianapolis City Market use avocados in most of their dishes and they serve their entire menu take-out style, so you won't have to worry about weird looks when you head home to smear it all over each other.
Three Carrots, City Market, 222 E. Market St., 403-5867, threecarrotsindy.com
[Editors Note: Author Kate Bragg is an employee of City Market.]
Spicy, zesty — sexy? Hot chilies have a rep for bringing heat to the bedroom, literally, due to the chemical capsaicin, which increases circulation and sends your nerve endings into overdrive. Your options for eating something spicy on Valentine's Day are seemingly endless. Go for the classic and elegant extra spicy shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo Steak House or really change it up and start your morning adventurously with the spicy biscuits and gravy at Biscuits Café. For the truly fearless, capsaicin is a main ingredient in many warming lubricants so go straight for direct application — if you're into feeling like your junk is burning off, of course.
St. Elmo Steak House, 127 S. Illinois St., 635-0636, stelmos.com
Biscuits Café, 1035 Broad Ripple Ave., 202-0410
Truffles provide zero aphrodisiac components and we certainly don't recommend wasting something so unbelievably expensive in the bedroom. However, it does get mentioned as an aphrodisiac simply because feeding truffles to a potential partner is sure to convince them that you are a person of luxury, a person willing to throw caution and cash to the winds in order to provide them with over-the-top pleasure. Make your way to Taste Café and Marketplace for the truffled egg toast with swiss, asparagus and truffle oil for a pungent and savory experience that weighs in at an affordable $10.
Taste Café and Marketplace, 5164 N. College Ave., 925-2233, tastecafeandmarketplace.com
Are you familiar with this stinky fruit whose aroma is often compared to the scent of rotting meat? Sexy, huh? When prepared, durian lovers swear that the creamy texture and surprisingly fresh flavor are worth holding your nose for. Aside from the taboo of sharing something so rarely enjoyed, durian is purported to promote estrogen production and increase fertility. Enjoy the creamy, delicious fruit innards with a durian tropical shake from Saigon Restaurant Indy.
Saigon Restaurant Indy, 4760 W. 38th St., 927-7270, saigonrestaurant-indy.com
There is something aggressively sexual about the inside of a pomegranate when you bust it open. Pomegranates are super sexy foods because they don't just give you weird feelings when you look at them, they also double as an aphrodisiac by increasing sensitivity and help to naturally combat erectile dysfunction. Nicky Blaine's whips up a mean pomegranate martini in a luxurious atmosphere, if you care to test the theory.
Nicky Blaine's Cocktail Lounge, 20 N. Meridian St., 638-5588, nickyblaines.com
Watermelon makes for a sweeter smelling and tasting you (let's call 'em "unicorn genitals") which is a pretty appealing side effect, but more importantly, the phytonutrient citrulline increases nitric oxide while relaxing blood vessels quickly, leading to faster, more powerful arousal. Watermelon = nature's Viagra. Check out the Taqueria Guanajuato restaurant within the grocery store of the same name, or their food truck for a splash of watermelon juice. (And combine with a spicy taco for wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am of a suggestive and arousing meal)
Taqueria Guanajuato, 3110 N. Shadeland Ave., 546-5150
For those who want to eat sensually but still feel good about themselves (and understuffed enough to do something about their supercharged urges) salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep sex-hormone production at its peak in both men and women. Locally Grown Gardens, a visual, tactile and auditory explosion, has just what the doctor ordered with their much-raved-about grilled salmon filet. Locally Grown Gardens also offers a veritable ménages à trios of sexual super foods: After your filet, split a cup of stimulating coffee and a slice of suggestive peach pie.
Locally Grown Gardens, 1050 E. 54th St., 255-8555, locallygrowngardens.com
Hot dogs are all about the visual appeal, baby. You know what you think when you watch someone slowly eat a wiener — that looks delicious! At King David Dogs, an Indy original, they are a treat for the eyes and the gut. Try the Hula Dog with pineapple relish if you're looking for sweater smelling breath, among other things.
King David Dogs, 135 N. Pennsylvania St., 632-3647, kingdaviddogs.com
Almonds have been a symbol of fertility since Biblical times, so maybe these aren't the snack of choice for the unattached paramour. You absolutely must try the toffee almond scone at Rene's Bakery, even if fertility isn't your present goal. Risk it and take extra precautions later. If you want something a little more savory, a little more sit-down, woo your date over the emiliomiti plates at Spoke & Steele, featuring cheese served with Amelia's hearth bread, membrillo and marcona almonds.
Rene's Bakery, 6524 N. Cornell Ave., 251-2253, renesbakery.com
Spoke & Steele, 123 S. Illinois St., 737-1616, spokeandsteele.com
These fun fruits don't just suggest sexuality visually, they also deliver a punch of potassium, which improves muscle strength and makes for straight-up orgasmic contractions. You think it's a coincidence that the word "bananas" also means "losing your mind?" Combine the suggestive naughtiness of eating a cupcake and a kick of potassium with a Banana-rama cupcake from The Flying Cupcake. (You'll win extra points with your date because buying one of these to split is also pretty darn cute.)
The Flying Cupcake, multiple locations, theflyingcupcakebakery.com
Suggestive and legit, these little sex bombs are packed full of feel-good vitamins, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, iron and melatonin and are also perfect food to bring into the bedroom for sexy snacking. Start popping those cherries already! Order a cherry pie or dutch cherry pie from My Sugar Pie for quick pick up of a suggestive, effective and outright delicious slice of gooey goodness that you can take home and do whatever you want with, or to.
My Sugar Pie, 40 E. Pine St. (Zionsville), 733-8717, mysugarpie.com
The bevy of edible lubricants, powders, genital-shaped jellies and candy panties prove that the sex industry understands the human obsession to put our mouths where our — well, you get the picture. Like sex, eating food feels good, and requires us to get in touch with our primal nature. Introducing food in the bedroom can go much further than eating seductively or playfully, drizzling your partner(s) in food products, or even insertion of edibles into various bodily orifices. The world of kink is replete with people who get off on foodplay of many variances including eating chef-made food off of naked bodies, engaging in dirty, sticky food fights, and watching beautiful, robust women stuff themselves full. Here we take a playful stab at the world of foodplay — but if this is your thing or you think that it might be, go exploring — the world is quite literally your oyster. Your best bet for a riveting round of foodplay is to take a trip to the grocery store or farmers markets and pick up some fresh, locally sourced options. Hey, chemicals and growth hormones aren't suggested for any type of consumption OR insertion. We suggest Pogue's Run Grocer, Locally Grown Gardens, Wildwood Market or the Indy Winter Farmers Market.
Caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, marshmallow sauce, whipped cream
The sweet sauces and creams are all components of many people's initial foray into the world of foodplay. It sounds oh-so-sexy to slowly and seductively lick something sweet off your lover's body. Nope. Drizzle away, you basic bitches, but be prepared for the disgustingly sticky after effects, including but not limited to: Rodents in your bedroom, bugs in your sheets, stubborn stickiness in every single bodily crevice including your belly button, matted body hair, and a mutual shower full of awkward giggling and lamenting why that just wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.
When your mom was telling you to eat your carrots because they were good for your eyesight, she left out that these vitamin sticks are also pretty rad for your unmentionables. Carrots are another of the suggestive and multipurpose foods that you can use as an aphrodisiac or as an implement of foreplay, if you can look past the knobs and weird hairy bits (that actually sounds familiar, really).
Cucumbers and squash
We don't really need to tell you what to do with these, right? What we will tell you is pop that sucker in the microwave for, oh, about 30 seconds and prepare to have your life changed. Just make sure you safely test the temperature before you get ahead of yourself.
Grapes, mango slices, strawberries
These hand-held edibles are all perfect for seductively feeding to one another (especially when covered in chocolate), sweetening the natural ode de naughty bits, and best of all, not feeling too full for active fun after. But be advised, all of the above come with hazards, seeds in the teeth a la Pretty Woman, sticky residue on you, your sheets, your dog, you name it.
Ice and popsicles
Dragging ice along your lover's body invokes some seriously sexy images and tingles. We strongly encourage playing with ice, as the residue dries without any mess. Make sure to have a warm blanket nearby and turn off all fans because obviously, things are going to get cold. Popsicles are an entirely different experience. Like ice, they cool things down in a surprising and invigorating way, but sugar makes these chilly sexsicles sticky and infection-inducing. To each their own though: If the sultry image of watching someone slurp on a popsicle isn't enough for you, adventurous souls have been known to foray into tingle-inducing insertion.
Finally: Eat whatever you want in the bedroom: The simple pleasure of a day spent naked in bed eating takeout Chinese food cannot be overstated. Foodplay is what you make of it. Get messy, use each other's bodies as plates, and tell us how it goes!
Pogue's Run Grocer,
2828 E. 10th St., 426-4963, poguesrungrocer.org
Wildwood Market, 1015 Virginia Ave., 737-2653, wildwoodmarket.com
Indy Winter Farmers Market, Saturdays, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Circle City Industrial Complex, 1125 E. Brookside Ave., indywinterfarmersmarket.org