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Ancient Jewish Aphrodisiacs Can Spice Up Valentine’s Day—or Any Shabbat Dinner

Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, put romance on the menu by taking some advice from everyone from Maimonides to Dr. Ruth

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It isn’t just the content, texture, or shape of a food that makes it an aphrodisiac; it is the mood it creates, the comfort, the lowering of inhibition. “I certainly see a link between Jewish food and love,” said Koenig, “via bringing comfort and warmth to those we care about through feeding them.” If certain foods create a feeling of safety, of calm, of family, of connection to tradition, if they induce intimacy on a deeper level, then the sex to follow has a higher chance of being great—as long as the couple doesn’t pass out from the heavy food, deep calm, and comfort provoked by the meal itself.

“Heavy foods can inhibit romance,” Reiley added. “With all the blood rushing to the stomach to digest, it makes it hard to find the energy for lovemaking.”

Westheimer agrees: “It is a mitzvah to engage in sexual activity between a husband and a wife on Shabbat,” she said, noting that in order to facilitate the mitzvah, “the meal should not be too heavy—otherwise they might fall asleep.” However, should a Shabbat dinner of kugel and challah induce a dream state instead of lovemaking, there is a remedy. “If they are too tired,” Westheimer said, “they should engage in a sexual experience after the Shabbat meal the next day, during the afternoon nap.”

Fortunately, there are plenty of aphrodisiacs to be found in a standard Saturday breakfast or lunch to accommodate any delay: Think bagels and lox and egg salad. Salmon, in particular, is considered by Reiley to be “a sexual powerhouse.” It provides protein for stamina; omega 3, which elevates serotonin and keeps the lovers smiling; and Vitamins A, D, and B, as well as calcium, for libido lift. “Perhaps lox and salmon is sensuous due to its nutrient composition,” posited Noah Bermanoff of the Mile End Deli in New York, “but I think it’s sensuous because of when one actually craves it: weekend breakfast. I love weekend mornings because of how lazy and carefree the world feels, and what better way to kick off a day of canoodling than with a sesame bagel, horseradish cream cheese, lox, and red onion?”

As Maimonides explains in the Mishnah Torah: “A person is obligated to eat three meals on the Sabbath: one in the evening, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. One should be extremely careful regarding these three meals, not to eat any less. Even a poor man who derives his livelihood from charity should eat three meals.” If you are preparing a Valentine’s Shabbat dinner for your loved one this Friday, or two more meals for Saturday, the key to seduction is eating healthy. Watching which proteins, vitamins, and minerals you eat on Shabbat, coupled with foods that comfort you or visually or tangibly turn you on, you can transform every Friday night into a very Jewish version of Valentine’s Day.

Click here for recipes for Chocolate Pomegranate Gushers, Mile End Deli Lox, and Fig and Honey Cocktails.

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Ancient Jewish Aphrodisiacs Can Spice Up Valentine’s Day—or Any Shabbat Dinner

Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, put romance on the menu by taking some advice from everyone from Maimonides to Dr. Ruth

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