The Erotic Asparagus

The Erotic Asparagus

Online Magazine

The Erotic Asparagus

Spices for Romance 

The Erotic Asparagus

The Erotic Asparagus

The Erotic Asparagus
The Erotic Asparagus
The Erotic Asparagus

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The Erotic Asparagus

 By Bron Hendrixson

"A concoction of asparagus roots boiled in wine and being taken while fasting several mornings together," Culpepper's Complete Herbal (1652) advises, 'stirreth up bodily lust in man or woman, whatever The Erotic Asparagussome have written to the contrary." But although its root is still used in medicines and has traditionally been a cure for ailments such as heart attacks and toothaches, it is the asparagus stalk that has generally been more highly regarded as an aphrodisiac. Being blatantly phallic has helped, of course, but medically speaking the "grass," as the shoots are sometimes called, has just as much going for it. The phallic-shaped stalks, are not only a definitely visual psychological aphrodisiac, figuring in a number of suggestive love dishes like creamed asparagus, a diuretic that increases the amount of urine excreted and excites the urinary passages. Asparagus also contains substantial amounts of aspartic acid, an amino acid that neutralizes the excess amounts of ammonia which linger in our bodies and make us tired and sexually disinterested. "Experiments with potassium and magnesium salts of aspartic acid," one writer observes, "have overcome cases of chronic exhaustion and increased sexual responsiveness . . . Asparagus is rich, too, in potassium, phosphorus and calcium, all necessary for maintenance of a high energy level."

Van de Velde included asparagus as one of the best all-around love foods. But the sexologist merely confirmed what lovers had known for centuries. The Phoenicians probably first introduced this member of the lily family to the Greeks, who gathered it from the wild, and excluding Pliny, who believed that "one who wore asparagus as an amulet became barren," there have been nothing but raves about it as a love food ever since. Apicius spoke highly of asparagus and his fellow Romans cultivated it as early as 200 B.C., growing some stalks that weighed a full three pounds and gathering stems in the Getulia plains of Africa that were actually twelve feet tall. The most flavorful "grass" however, is thin and tender and should be cooked in as little water and as rapidly as possible - never more than ten minutes. Even the Romans knew this, their Emperor Augustus originating the old saying, "Quicker than you can cook asparagus."

Probably no other food figures in such explicitly sexual and/or obscene love poetry as the asparagus, from the poems of the early Greeks to those of the Roman Catullus. Similar sentiments are expressed in the literature of China, where Asparagus was a favorite sex food, and in that of India, whose Karma Sutra advises that "The drinking of a paste composed of the asparagus . . . is provocative of sexual vigor." In England the plant is mentioned from earliest times and cited again and again in medicinal recipes, as it was throughout Europe. Which led Rabelais to have Panurge declare: "My better end is my uniterminal, intercrural asparagus stalk. I hereby vow and promise to keep it succulent, with good measure pressed down and running over."

Asparagus came to America with the first settlers in the New World and has been a favorite ever since, home-grown in many appropriately named perennial "beds." Brillat-Savarin, who praised the symbolic stalks, recounts two risqu"anecdotes about the vegetable in his Physiology of Taste. One relates the tale of two Englishmen who bought a bundle from a Parisian vendor and walked off whistling "God Save The King," the vendor observing that their asparagus might do just that, if the king ate them. The other tells of a giant asparagus tip growing in an Episcopal bishop's garden, the head so great, round and shiny that it became the talk of the town as it rose from the ground. Only when the bishop went out to cut the tempting stalk did he learn that it wasn"t real, but a perfect imitation made by a local Canon, "who had carved a wooden asparagus . . . had stuck it by stealth into the bed, and lifted it a little every day to imitate the nocturnal growth." Since then the phallic asparagus has been the prop for many jokes sexual and otherwise, perhaps most notably in a scene from the early American movie Young Ironsides. In this classic, silent film star Charlie Chase attempts to eat an asparagus and it bends away. Then his girlfriend tries to eat the asparagus with him, grasping it at the stalk, but neither does that work, the asparagus even popping free when Charlie ties it into a bow. At the film's end, Charlie trips over a serving cart and grabs a stalk, but his asparagus tips over limp, all seemingly a symbol of his impotence in everything.

White asparagus was quite the rage in Europe, especially the German spargel, which farmers grow in mounds, picking the very tenders talks before they have a chance to push above the ground and turn green. Reports one writer on a Bonn dinner party: "A certain guest complimented the elegant German hostess and said, "This white asparagus is as beautiful as an undressed woman," thereby probably becoming the first asparagus eater to have noted a resemblance between asparagus and the attributes of the female sex."


 
 
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The Erotic Asparagus