Dr. Ursula Janssen is an archaeologist, a culinary historian and a book author, and in the spirit of St. Valentine's Day, has prepared a blog for us on ancient aphrodisiacs. She also has a fantastic YouTube channel, where she shares videos of herself preparing ancient recipes.
An aphrodisiac is an ingredient, a substance or a dish that is meant to enhance lust and passion. The desire to do so is supposedly as old as humanity itself. The word aphrodisiac comes from the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Her birth is described somewhat non-erotic – the titan Cronus severed Uranus' genitals and threw them into the sea. The foam from his genitals gave rise to the goddess who would carry a number of mysterious love potions at her belt – aphrodisiacs.
Let us have a look at some of the substances that were considered an aphrodisiac in different periods of our history, and what we can learn from this today. I would divide aphrodisiacs broadly into the following four categories: