Before you wince or cringe at the sight of this photo, please stop and think for a moment.

Why is it that the age-old idea that certain foods increase our desire, virility and lust, just won’t go away?

Certainly for many people in Fethiye this concept, myth or otherwise, is still a commonly held belief and they’d certainly like the tourists to think so.

The FT team headed off the every-day market and found an astonishing variety of other foods, which are also believed to be potent aphrodisiacs.

However, so far, they have yet to test them!

Foods for love

From time immemorial people from all cultures have liked to think that certain foods are aphrodisiacs.

Indeed, the word originates from the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.

OK, this could be just a placebo effect but these foods are supposed to heighten the libido, increase virility and fuel female passions.

Yes, even cauliflower was thought by Rasputin to give him stamina, although they do have other rather antisocial side effects!

Vegetables: rocket, asparagus, tomatoes, Globe artichokes, beetroot, garlic, chilli peppers, cauliflower

Hot stuff
Hot stuff

Fruit: Watermelon, pomegranate, avocado, bananas, strawberries, figs, cherries, peaches

Nuts and seeds: almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, hazel nuts, peanuts, sesame, sunflower seeds, carob

Carob can be eaten whole or ground into flour
Carob can be eaten whole or ground into flour

Other foods: seafood, honey, Turkish coffee, olives, thyme

Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee

Erotic combinations

Who would have thought that a salad could inflame the passions?

Evidently the Romans thought so. They venerated Arugula (as rocket is also known) as a god of fertility.

When tomatoes were introduced to the west they were called ‘love apples’ and while green olives were believed to make men more virile, black olives were thought to increase women’s sex drive.

Green olives stir the passions
Green olives stir the passions

Seafood has long had a reputation for making us humans frisky: prawns, simply grilled and served with a smattering of garlic, a sprinkling of thyme and hot pepper with a salad on the side, is a quintessential Mediterranean feast.

Consider this the next time you visit the fish market!

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Lust desserts

Baklava is a famous aphrodisiac. It’s certainly a wonderful way to eat honey, nuts (particularly pistachio or walnuts) and delicate, buttery layers of pastry.

Pistachios, honey and buttery layers of pastry
Pistachios, honey and buttery layers of pastry

And of course, no meal is complete without a Turkish coffee to finish it off and this is rumoured to be love potion too.

Feeling nutty or seedy?

Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds

If you’re in need of an energy boost why not nibble on some nuts?

Turkish men are convinced that they increase their potency, so much so, that jars of nuts, mixed with honey, are called ‘Natural Viagra’!

The same hopeful tag is given to walnuts or almonds thickly encased in chewy grape molasses (pekmez). Sesame – ok it’s a seed not a nut – is the main ingredient of helva.

Roasted and made into tahin and mixed with honey or carob molasses (pekmez), is said to be a powerful aphrodisiac too.

Tahin and molasses (pekmez)
Tahin and molasses (pekmez)

Even the humble carob bean is thought to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Dangling in bunches from Ceratonia siliqua trees every autumn, they can be chewed in their natural state or ground into flour.

They are also used as an alternative to chocolate and of course we all know what that can do.

A taste of honey

A taste of honey
A taste of honey

Honey has a reputation for being a powerful love potion. Fethiye has shops devoted to the stuff: rows of jars filled with resinous pine honey or pale golden, fragrant orange blossom honey, fill the shelves.

Alongside them are pots of royal jelly and bee pollen.

Feeling fruity

Fethiye has a wealth of fruits for every season.

No sooner has one finished that another is ready to be harvested.

Fresh figs are at the top of the list, closely followed by dried ones: but both have a reputation for fuelling our animal instincts.

Figs have a reputation for being an aphrodisiac
Figs have a reputation for being an aphrodisiac

Some scientists say that watermelon can help with erectile dysfunction but evidently you’d have to eat an enormous amount of it to notice.

Cherries, strawberries and grapes are all symbols of seduction, love, fertility and virility.

The ancient Greeks linked pomegranates to Aphrodite and, according to a study conducted by Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, juicing the beautiful seeds can increases testosterone levels in men.

Other sources say they are a powerful natural aphrodisiac.

The scent of romance

Orange blossom, roses, jasmine, honeysuckle, bergamot and lavender are also said to have an effect on the libido and these grow everywhere in Fethiye.

The scent of romance
The scent of romance

Certainly, on a balmy spring day or summer’s evening, their natural perfumes add a little romance to the atmosphere.

And one of the many magnificent things about Fethiye is that we have all these on our doorstep. For free.

A pinch of salt

Ultimately, all this should probably be taken with a pinch of salt.

Not too much though, as salt definitely isn’t an aphrodisiac when used to excess.

But it is great to know that, whatever the occasion and reality, Fethiye has the foods for love … in abundance.

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