Sunday, February 15, 2015

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Sapota, With an Aside About Aphrodisiacs

     Sapota is a fruit originally native to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.  In more recent times, its cultivation has expanded into other tropical areas, including Southern Florida.  The can I bought noted it was a product of Thailand, so obviously it’s also grown in parts of Southeast Asia.

     It’s eaten in many formats.  Raw, or processed into ice cream, fruit bars, shakes, smoothies, jellies, and marmalades.  Sapota is quite nutritious, too—it is a significant source of riboflavin, niacin, Vitamins E, C, and B6, manganese, fiber, and potassium.

     As the title of this post suggests, sapota is also allegedly an aphrodisiac, or a substance that, after being consumed, causes a marked increase in a person’s libido.  Some of these are also reported to help with impotence, and not just sexual desire—the distinction is sometimes blurred.  Sapota has a lot of company in this category.  The following is a list of food items reported to also have this stimulating effect; oysters, chocolate, watermelon, ambergris, tiger penis, deer penis/antler, rhino horn, salamander brandy and Spanish Fly.  Also the following plants/herbs:  Epimedium grandiflorum (aka horny goat weed(!)), Labissa pumila, ginseng, ginkgo biloba,  Lepidium meyenii (Peruvian ginseng), Mucuna pruiens, Socratea exorrhiza, Tribulus terrestris, Turnera diffusa, and Eurycoma longifolia.

     Ambergris is a waxy substance produced in sperm whale’s digestive tracts, believed to be the coating around irritating giant squid beaks.  It’s either vomited, or defecated out of the whale.  It’s an incredibly valuable substance, long used in incense and perfumes.  (And now illegal to possess/harvest in many countries given the sperm whale’s endangered status.)  Labissa pumila is slightly unusual, in that it’s believed to increase the libido of women—most of these other foods, in our male-centric world, are thought to only work for the guys.  The harvesting of the deer penis is particularly horrifying, in that proponents sometimes contend that to work the removal has to happen while the deer is still alive.  Clearly, as even casual readers of this blog could figure out, I’m not in PETA or the like, but dismembering an animal while it’s still alive seems unforgivably cruel.  (Even more so, when you factor in that it doesn’t actually do what they claim.)  The infamous Spanish Fly is a misnomer, as it’s actually from a type of blister beetle.  A chemical in the beetle, cantharidin, can produce an irritation in the genitals, which can mimic sexual excitement.  But since this is usually painful and uncomfortable, this seems rather dubious.  Also, it’s easy to overdose on it, as the Marquis de Sade found out, when force feeding it to a prostitute resulted in her vomiting black gunk for a while, and nearly dying.  The salamander brandy is potentially disturbing as well.  This Slovenian drink uses actual salamanders, which are thrown in and boiled to death, causing their excretions to infuse the brandy.  Reported effects include hallucinations and extreme increase in libido.  With a weird twist—allegedly drinkers maybe be uncontrollably attracted to random people, or even animals, plants, or trees, and/or may develop/reveal various other odd fetishes.

     But, to throw a metaphoric bucket of cold water on everything, all of these so called aphrodisiacs are probably bunk.  Some have shown some type of promise in scientific studies, but none has been conclusively shown to be an effective aphrodisiac for humans.  If there’s any noticeable result, it’s almost certainly only a placebo effect.  This isn’t such a big deal with say, eating watermelons, but since some of these involve extreme cruelty (the deer penis), or are of endangered animals (tigers, sperm whales, rhinos) the pursuit of aphrodisiacs is sometimes a tragic waste of time, lives, and effort.  Especially when there are medicines, like Viagra, that are proven to help out impotence in men.  There are real aphrodisiacs, but most of these are synthetic, or have serious drawbacks.  Testosterone can be effective for both men and women, but not always, and not without other possible health issues.  Melanotin II and Bremelanotide are two synthetic compounds which have shown promise in this way, too.  Various phenylethylamines may be aphrodisiacs, too, and some of these are found in plants and animals, or can be synthesized from them.  One of these, methamphetamine, of course has extreme health downsides, alas.  A chemical in crocuses and gardenias, crocin, has shown aphrodisiac qualities in male rats, in high doses.

     But back to the actual fruit.  As I mentioned, I had sapota in a can.  The fruit had a reddish-orange flesh, and each was about the size of a plum.  It had an apple-like texture, kind of mealy.  The flavor wasn’t very sweet.  At first, I was unimpressed, but it did kind of grow on me after a few more pieces.  Overall it was okay—neither great nor terrible.  I might have it again, if the price wasn’t too high.  And, to answer the question that probably no one is asking, I didn’t notice any particular aphrodisiac effects afterwards.

     On that note, I am sort of frightened by/intrigued by the Slovenian salamander brandy.  Don’t know if it’s even legal in this country—but I probably would give it a cautious try if I can locate it.  Although, to paraphrase a Dave Atell bit, I think if I did I’d be sure to drink it with “a friend who can keep a secret.”  Or maybe to hedge my bets even further, try it alone, in a room without plants, animals, or any inanimate objects in it.






























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