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What makes a food romantic? Some items are thought of as aphrodisiacs — oysters, chocolate and wine — but there can be more to getting the heart pumping.To set the table for love on Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to pay special attention to textures, tastes, color and shareability. Something that creates a mood and heightens all the senses — including touch and smell — can spark romance.
Look for “something satisfying that will put both people in a good mood and be eaten in a good atmosphere of happiness and warmth,” says Ariane Daguin, CEO of high-end specialty foods purveyor D’Artagnan and a chef from a family of restaurateurs in France’s Gascony region.
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Harvey Edelman, 73, a musical theater writer and marketing company owner in Jersey City, New Jersey, loves to cook. For him, making a meal romantic means “putting in the effort and not cooking something really easy,” he says. “I need to show my commitment cooking-wise.”
The meaning behind the meal always adds to the atmosphere. As Daguin says, “When you cook the food with love, it shows.”
Here are 10 foods that will surely bring you closer on Valentine’s Day.
There’s no truth to claims that these bivalves are aphrodisiacs, but oysters are loaded with zinc, which your body needs to make proteins and DNA, and it can help you fight off bacteria. Though the science is not so sexy, oysters are romantic “because what makes food romantic is its visceral nature, and oysters are extremely visceral,” says Sims McCormick, cofounder of Real Oyster Cult, which sources and curates oysters from sustainable farms and ships them overnight. “The fresh smell of the sea when you shuck the oyster, the merroir [the liquid that spills from it], the feel of plump, sweet meat in your mouth — it's sensual.”
Another food that claims to stimulate desire, caviar or fish eggs are said to have been a favorite of Casanova. Roe is rich in vitamins and minerals such as omega 3 (good for healthy circulatory and immune systems) and vitamin B12 (keeps nerve and blood cells healthy). Because caviar is so pricey, it’s in that category of decadent things that people want to splurge on to show a lover they are worth it. “It's effervescent and crunchy, and that makes it sexy,” McCormick says, adding that it’s nice to place those sexy eggs atop an oyster.
Domestic caviar is less expensive than imported. Siberian caviar starts at about $75 an ounce.