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Sarah Aschenbrenner/the Gauntlet

Carnal Knowledge: For dessert: Sex!

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Aphrodisiacs are recognized by many as a fun way to interact with your partner while giving your libido a boost. Every culture has them and chances are everyone has at least thought about using them.

Aphrodisiacs are believed to originally have been sought out as remedies for sexual anxieties over fear, performance and fertility. Pliny and Dioscordes, ancient greeks in the first century, are known to have documented aphrodisiacs as substances that by nature represent "seed or semen," such as bulbs, eggs and snails. These foods were considered to inherently yield sexual powers. Other foods were considered stimulating by their physical resemblance to genitalia. Later value is placed on aphrodisiacs that better satisfied dietary needs.

While there are some substances found in food and drink that are known to stimulate sexual desire, others can have quite the opposite effect. Knowing the difference is crucial and will ensure that those candle-lit dinners you slaved to prepare end as romantically as you hoped for.

Begin with a little wine. It is common knowledge that the alcohol in wine has a relaxing effect improving confidence and removing inhibitions. Too much wine, however, will induce fatigue--or worse--so don't overdo it. Most whites will keep in the fridge and your reds will be alright to drink the next day.

Light some vanilla scented candles. Smell plays a very important role in sexual desire and vanilla is preferred not only for its sweet warm scent but also for its relaxing effects.

Prepare a spicy appetizer. There is much debate over whether or not spices actually have any aphrodisiac power. What we can be sure of is that spices warm the body and a warm body makes removing clothing that much easier.

Try ginseng, seafood or truffles in a main course. Both ginseng and seafood are extremely good for you and produce an overall feeling of well being, while truffles have a musky, masculine fragrance thought to be very intoxicating. As for the famous oyster, you don't need to be an expert to figure out why eating them can be considered erotic.

Nothing beats chocolate for desert. Chocolate is the most common and widely used aphrodisiac. No matter what form--fondue, covered strawberries or even as a body paint, chocolate will pep you up by causing the body to produce pleasure hormones, or endorphins.

Serve some ginger tea after the meal. Ginger has often been called the Viagra of the east. It is known to cause blood vessels to dilate and was often prescribed in Chinese medicine to help improve circulation. It is important not to use too much fresh ginger anywhere in your meal, however, as your night will be more likely to end in stomach cramps than romance. Brew a ginger root tea and sip slowly instead.

Do not serve huge portions. Nothing kills the mood quicker than lethargy caused from overeating. It is also important that you get enough sleep in your weekly routine--no aphrodisiac out there can make up for lost sleep. Take the time to learn your partner's turn-ons and prepare a meal or special occasion to compliment them. While lobster might produce the effect you are looking for it will be lost on a partner who dislikes seafood. Lastly, as you are laying plans for a special evening, remember the strongest aphrodisiac will always be confidence, so adjust your supply accordingly.

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