LAP OF THE GODDESSES
It’s that time of year when pulses are set racing with everyone in a tizzy to find or satisfy a soul mate. I have always been as interested as much in the story around this feast day come modern day commercial love fest along with the obvious food as the aphrodisiac connections. Everybody knows the clichés now around oysters and chocolate and getting those happy hormones moving in all the right directions.
Modern science has long figured out the whole chemical story of nerve cells releasing our natural mood enhancing organic molecules from parts of our head and body so that we will have increased appetite, energy, desire and ultimately reproduction. Mother Nature has her tried and tested formula of dopamine and oxytocin inbuilt in us so that the human show will just go on and on, unless AI disrupts it sometime in the future, don’t bet against that.
To the ancients it was all very mysterious; the best way to explain it was to wrap it up in myth so that it became a fixed part of their culture. The Greeks got it going with their warrior goddess of love Aphrodite who was associated with lust, beauty, passion and pleasure with symbols like roses, now what does all that remind you of? She was bold however, unfaithful to her husband and a cause of the Trojan War. Maybe this notoriety was her pulling power for the Greeks to idolize her and giving us the word Aphrodisiac of course. Adultery and scandal had them hooked back then too.
The Romans afterwards copying everything Greek morphed her into Venus as their own love Goddess and they really progressed the eating element of romance giving her symbols of shellfish knowing that it was not just the oysters but all the other bivalves like scallops, clams and especially mussels as modern research shows, will stimulate the neurotransmitters with their high level of amino acids and zinc. Anything that increases testosterone has got to be desirable to consume.
Then the authorities in third century Rome were not happy with one of the priests called Valentine marrying off couples in secret to avoid conscription for the blokes so he met his fate on this exact date. Ironically his remains ended up being gifted to the Carmelite order in Dublin by one of the popes a couple of hundred years ago and to this day it is a world renowned shrine for Romantics at the Whitefriar church in Dublin where his relics are on display. Little did he think he would be become such a hero for his good deeds.
His saint’s day today is really becoming a global celebration and the frenzy it creates can only mean a day of madness or conversely sadness for others. Of course eating together is the ultimate preparation for any get together so food and drink has made its way to the top of the romantic encounter. The secret with alcohol is serious moderation as there is an old adage that it may generate desire but it certainly lessens performance, especially for the blokes. You have been warned. Food as the stimulation vehicle itself works in three ways. First, visually in how it might look in shapes resembling human genitalia, think bananas and figs, just enough for a fit of giggles.
Secondly in scent and how it works on our olfactory system in our nose telling the brain if it smells nice, like with truffles and basil. The most important is in the actual physical and chemical reaction when after digestion it actually acts as a trigger for those all important hormones bringing us back to shellfish or chocolate.
It is just a single day, there are another three hundred and sixty four, and life goes on and many happy couples are now actually choosing to pass it by. It was really the Victorian English that made it fashionable as their natural inhibitions meant all matters of the heart had to be suppressed, stored up and expressed in a single day. No such shyness for the romantic continentals, every day is a Valentine’s Day.