Aphrodesiacs: Edible sex organs

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Ann Sims continues her list of sensual edibles to get you in the mood, with this little flower menu.

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“Flowers are the plants’ sex organs,” writes Diane Ackerman in The Natural History of Love, “and they evoke the sex-drenched, bud-breaking free-for-all of spring and summer.” Bring the garden into your kitchen (and then into your bedroom) with a variety of edible flowers, including nasturtiums, chamomile, orange blossoms, dandelions, fuchsia, hibiscus, and honeysuckle.

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For a delectable nectar, try this easy hibiscus cooler:

½ cup dried hibiscus or other edible flowers
2 drops essential oil of orange
¼ cup sugar or honey
orange slices for garnish

Add the flowers into boiling water and simmer for five to ten minutes. Stir in the essential oil and sugar. Strain into a pitcher and chill. Serve over ice with orange slices and fresh edible petals. (You can get dried hibiscus from San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Co, 47444 Kato Rd, Fremont. 510-770-1215; www.herbspicetea.com)

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Of all the edible blossoms, lavender is the most potent aphrodisiac. In The Winter’s Tale, first published in 1623, Shakespeare writes that hot lavender is “given to men of middle age” as a stimulant. Over 350 years later, science finally caught up. In the late 1990s, Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, Director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, began carrying out studies on smell and sexual arousal. Among all the odors tested, the combination of pumpkin pie and lavender produced the greatest increase in arousal for men. Try adding lavender to rich meat dishes, homemade oils and vinegars, or ice cream and scones.