Seren on Saturdays The Foods of Love and Romance  – not just for Valentine’s Day

By Seren Charrington Hollins

It’s that time of year when you seemingly can’t escape from hearts, flowers and bottles of fizz, yes it’s Valentines season. I am afraid I am not in love with the commercialism of Valentines Day, with its seemingly endless array of tacky gifts and hard-to-get dinner reservations.   The array of Valentine’s gifts has certainly grown over the last decade and its come a long way since the 19th century when mass-produced cards were being produced and the notion of sending cards to express  romantic fondness was well established.

I particularly love the Victorian Valentines cards that I consider truly romantic. Filled with images of cherubs and love birds, there is an innocence to the antique cards and a  true sentiment that is lost in many of the modern cards and trinkets.  Indeed, many of the modern Valentine’s cards lack finesse and the gifts are somewhat in the ilk of kiss me quick hats.

I’m not alone it seems in my dislike of the modern throw away, commercialism of the Valentine’s Day. According to Mintel  in 2023, Valentine’s Day struggled to gain traction for retailers and spending was estimated to have fallen 19% year-on-year. Not only did consumers watch their spending due to financial worries but it was reported that Valentine’s Day retailers also have to contend with an increasingly prevalent fatigue among consumers relating to the throw away nature of many novelty gifts and products.

So with sustainability in mind how about some dried apricots or a bag of walnuts for the one you love this year?  Indeed a bunch of asparagus or a jar of honey may put your loved one more in the mood for romance than a bunch of red roses.

For thousands of years people have taken delights in aphrodisiacs and secret elixirs of love. Love foods that stimulate desire and enhance libido are prized in cultures throughout the world. From commonplace foods such as honey and apricots to exotic ingredients shrouded in secrecy and history the amatory properties of food are founded in more than just myth. Often foods  that are considered to be aphrodisiacs have health benefits that help to stimulate our bodies and minds.

On that note let’s look at some the foods that are considered seductively sensuous:


The Seductively, Soft Apricot

The tender, golden apricot has been considered a fertility aid for centuries. It is recorded that in the court of James I, “apricocks” were commonly served as amatory enhancing treat. Whilst in China fresh apricot pulp combined with Royal Jelly has been considered a provocative love potion for centuries.  Fresh apricots liquidised and combined with Royal Jelly at a ratio of  50% fruit to 5% Royal Jelly should give a restorative tonic when spread on your morning toast.  These golden delights will give you a boost not least because they are packed with vitamins and nutrients. Bursting with beta-carotene they are a good antioxidant and their reputation as a fertility aid is well deserved as they contain iron, magnesium, vitamin A , fibre and not to forget Vitamin E, which is dubbed as the sex vitamin.


Sensual Sea Food

Oysters have long been thought of as aphrodisiacs; indeed legend has it that the Venetian lover Casanova ate copious amounts of oysters each morning for breakfast.  Studies now prove that eating oysters does improve dopamine levels which boosts libido in men and women.  Oysters  are also proven to be good for fertility as they contain zinc which is vital for testosterone production and healthy sperm.  It is considered that they are most potent eaten plain with just the simplest of dressings.

It is not just oysters that have aphrodisiac qualities, all shellfish contain phosphorus, calcium, iodine, iron, vitamin B and glycol-phosphates which is the essential combination of a strong aphrodisiac, so if you don’t fancy an oyster seductively, sliding down your throat, the, lobster, crab, clams, winkles, cockles, mussels and scallops all make for frisky aphrodisiacs.

Wonderful Walnuts

Walnuts were considered a symbol of fecundity by the Ancient Greeks and Romans and were thrown at children by the bridegroom at weddings as a sign of leaving childish things behind and becoming a man.

Walnut Cream


225g walnuts (chopped finely)

300ml goats milk

3 tbsp. runny honey

4 raw egg yolks



Place the milk and walnuts in a pan and simmer gently, until the nuts soften. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and liquidize it with the egg yolks and honey until it is a thick consistency. Delicious served in a wine glass as a pudding or as a dip with a selection of breads, smoked cheese and pastrami.


Amorous Asparagus

With is phallic shape asparagus is well known as a food of love. This aristocratic vegetable has been cultivated since 2000 BC and is high B vitamin content means that its reputation as an aphrodisiac is well deserved;   having been linked to a healthy sex drive in men and women.  Young tender asparagus spears served with butter are ideal for dipping in the yolk of a perfectly poached egg.

Cooking Asparagus:

To boil: submerge in a large pan of boiling water, cover and cook for 3-6 minutes. Drain and toss in melted butter. Serve immediately

To steam: stand the asparagus in 3 inches of boiling water, cover and cook for 3-6 minutes. Remove when tender and serve with melted butter and freshly ground black pepper.


Garlic to Get You Going


How about some raw garlic to get you in the mood for love? Eating raw garlic may make your breath repulsive to your partner, but it will stir up sexual desire. The heat in garlic is what awakens your libido and the allicin, that garlic contains  is thought to increase blood flow to sexual organs. However, this is not a quick fix as you need to consume raw garlic for at least a month before you reap the benefits.

If a dish of oysters  and side salad of raw garlic has failed to get you in the mood, you could resort to the lovers favourite,chocolate. Aptly termed ‘nourishment for the gods’ by the Aztecs, chocolate is proven to increase levels of serotonin in the brain, making you feel happy and more receptive to the powers of seduction.  If all else fails throw away your inhibitions and enjoy a glass of champagne with your meal and hope that the fizz will percolate through to your bedroom antics.



  • Seren Charrington Hollins

    Seren runs a catering business and delicatessen in Mid Wales, but she is not your run of the mill caterer or deli owner. She is a mother of six and an internationally recognised food historian who has created banquets and historical dinner parties for private clients and television. Her work has been featured on the BBC, ITV & Channel 4 and she has appeared in BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South's Ration Book Britain, Pubs that Built Britain with The Hairy Bikers, BBC 2’s Inside the Factory, BBC 2’s The World’s Most Amazing Hotels, the Channel 4 series Food Unwrapped and Country Files Autumn Diaries. Her work has also been featured in The Guardian, The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Mail and The Telegraph. Her two most recent books are 'Revolting Recipes from History' and 'A Dark History of Tea'

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