Sex and Chiles
By Dave DeWitt, Fiery-Foods Magazine
Chiles have nothing whatsoever to do with sex. A chile is just a chile - or is it? Within the human psyche, everything has something to do with sex. With chiles, they're just not as obviously symbolic as cigars are.
Yin and Yang
A quick study of world cultures will show a basic belief that chiles will improve the attractiveness of women. Before Henry Stanley tracked down David Livingstone, the good doctor had noticed that West African women bathed in water to which ground red pepper -- he called it paprika -- had been added because they believed it would make them more beautiful. The origin and effectiveness of the chile bath are obscure, however. Mayan women also used chile as a beauty aid, specifically for skin care. However, their technique left a lot to be desired. The women washed their skin with hot urine, applied chile powder, and then repeated the procedure. Curiously, the Mayas used chile to discourage sexual attraction, too. They threw chile powder into the eyes of young girls who stared at boys or men, and they squirted chile juice on the private parts of unchaste women. These actions illustrate the opposite effects chiles have produced since the very beginning: approach and avoidance. But they also point out humanity's respect for the power of peppers.
Rumors of Excitement
In the land of the Kama Sutra, foods are thought to be rajasic (hot) or sattvika (cold), much like the personalities of individuals. "People of hot, rajasic nature are assisted to better harmony by eating cold, sattvika foods," writes K.T. Achaya, author of Indian Food: A Historical Companion. "Frequent consumption of hot, spicy, sour and bitter foods can permanently affect one's disposition, making it fickle and restless," he adds. And horny as well?
Apparently so, because the principles of brahmacharya, intended to achieve purity of body and soul, prohibited young Brahmans from eating hot chiles. The prohibition was based upon the belief that the pepper produces "too much heat in the system," notes Amal Naj, author of Peppers, and that heat "makes blood and sexual fluids watery and the mind restless."
The chile pepper was late in arriving in India, but its effect was even more powerful than black pepper, which was a hot food that held a significant place in Indian legend and lore. The Kama Sutra reported: "If a man, after anointing his lingam with a mixture of the powders of the white thorn apple, the long pepper and the black pepper, and honey, engages in sexual union with a woman, he makes her subject to his will." Don't try this at home.
So it is not surprising that many books on the subject of aphrodisiacs list both black pepper and chile pepper prominently. In Plants of Love, by Christian Ratsch, Capsicum annuum is listed just after Cannabis sativa, and the text states: "The cayenne pepper is considered a hot food that heatens the sexual drive.... When used as an aphrodisiac, great care should be taken to avoid overdosage." It should be noted that the primary use of chiles as an aphrodisiac is internal; that is, they are eaten, not rubbed on the genitalia.
Sex Sauce or Sexy Sauces?
In 2002, news reports emanating from Lithuania indicated that a food company there had started production of a new sauce intended to spice up the sex life as well as the palate--a testosterone-boosting ketchup. "The new product labeled 'Sinful' is the first Lithuanian sauce which increases sexual attraction, sexuality and encourages secretion of hormones," the Vesiga company said in a statement. The ketchup was flavored with Mexican chiles, various herbs, and zinc, which has been shown by studies to increase levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. "Many nations in the world are known for their dishes increasing mens' potency and inducing desire, but this was not true in our cuisine to date," the company's production director, Robertas Neimontas, said in the statement. "To our knowledge this is the first such product in Lithuania and we hope it will be appreciated not only by men, but also women," he said.
The approach has been different in the United States, where the technique is to associate hot sauces with sex as a unique selling proposition, seeing that many of sauces in unique packaging are considered to be collectible. Most have mild sexual overtones, like Bayou Love Potion Number 9 Hot Sauce, the Jump Up and Kiss Me line, and the sauces by Cajohn's Fiery Foods such as CaBoom! Hot Sauce in Hot Love Bottle, and their Adam and Eve line that features an attractive bottle in the shape of an embracing couple.
Then the sauces get edgier, like the Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally line, Peppers' Hot Bitch at the Beach and Hot Buns at the Beach, Hot Biker Bitch Hot Sauce, Bin Laden and Saddam Hot Sauce and Sex Lube, and Big Dicks Hot Sauce. Some of the sauces have attachments, like little plastic penises or breasts, and Colonel Condom's Hot Sauce comes with a real condom attached, still in the wrapper, of course. And these are innocent when compared to the triple-x rated sauces sold by www.sexsauce.net that have sauce names that cannot be printed here and also feature graphic labels of adult film stars and Nevada brothels.
Symbols of Sex and More
Chiles and sex are associated together in at least two popular movies. In Woman on Top, the lovely Spanish actress Penelope Cruz is Isabelle, a young Brazilian woman who escapes her hometown and gets a cooking show in San Francisco, stunning all the men with her ways to cook with chiles. The equally beautiful Juliette Binoche portrays a peripatetic single mother in Chocolat who arrives in a sleepy French village and establishes a chocolate shop during Lent. The action is built around a mysterious chocolate specialty spiced up with chile -- her secret recipe.
The human desire to link chiles and sex goes beyond food. In addition to other chile pepper clothing, there are t-shirts with chiles in various sexual positions, Big Dog sportswear has chile pepper boxer shorts, and the best-selling hot sauce company sells Tabasco boxer shorts. Interestingly, I spent hours searching the Web for lingerie or panties with chile peppers on them and could not find any. Perhaps this is a marketing void that needs to be filled.
Humor plays a role in the chile-sex theme -- note the copulating peperoncinos at the Museo del Peperoncino (chile pepper museum) in Calabria, Italy. And what could be funnier-and sexier-than the Chili Pepper Vibrator, sold by many online and brick and mortar sex shops in the United States? And I must not overlook the Chile Peppers Spicy Sex Collection, which is a vibrator with three chile pod-shaped sleeves in red, yellow, and green. And Adam and Eve, an online sex shop sells: "Muy Caliente! The Perfect Recipe For Red-Hot SEX! 3 Savory Chile Pepper Stimulators!"
Even horticulture can be sexy. In Africa, pili-pili, the generic term for chiles in Swahili, is also slang for penis, obviously an allusion to the shape of some pods. But there is a realistic cultivated ornamental chile that is a shockingly accurate representation of a tumescent penis: the 'Peter Pepper'. It is a very popular variety with home gardeners, and the harvested pods are a great stimulant to conversation when served as a garnish to Oysters with Lithuanian Sinful Ketchup!
Menu for a Hot Aphrodisiacal Tryst
Chiles have long been considered to be aphrodisiacs, according to H.E, Wedeck in his Dictionary of Aphrodisiacs. In his listing for paprika, for example, he writes: "This condiment is credited with decided erotic impulses." Additionally, he lists dozens and dozens of other foods that are credited with stimulating the libido, so it makes sense that if these foods were spiced up, they'd be a sort of culinary Viagra. Here, then, are our Recipes for Romance.
Cocktails: Dry martinis made with Absolut Peppar or Stolicnaya Pertsovka vodka.
Appetizers: Raw oysters with habanero hot sauce; caviar sprinkled with a mild hot sauce.
Soup: French onion soup with ancho chile.
Salad: Radish, rocket, shallots, poblano chile, artichoke hearts, and tomato (love-apple) salad with a dressing of oil, vinegar, garlic, and black pepper.
Wine: Any good, dry white wine.
Main Dish: Chicken Paprikash.
Side Dish: Green peas boiled with onions and spiced with cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom (from The Perfumed Garden, the 16th century Arabian sex manual).
Side Dish: Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Pimenton, the Spanish smoked paprika and ghee, Indian clarified butter.
Desserts: Rice mixed with honey of equal weight (from the Ananga-Ranga, an ancient Hindu sex manual), served with grapes and chocolate candies.
Dessert Wine: Disaster Bay Chilli Wine from Australia (fermented from six different varieties of chiles, no grapes).