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In Praise Of Aphrodisiac Eating - Less Of The Guilt (And Asparagus) Please

13/06/2017 11:33 BST | Updated 13/06/2017 11:33 BST

Pre-Amble

I slurp and lap and moan, head down. It's a moment of pleasure I want to enjoy without interruption. It's very personal indeed. I look up and meet the eyes of the noodle shop owner as I swallow and we share an awkward, intrusive moment. I'm not sure who looks away quicker but I feel all weird and dirty. As I cross the restaurant to pay I feel sated but empty, the best part of the day, the one I was looking forward to with hot, fervent anticipation, is now over. And repeat.

Consider the midnight snack as culinary onanism. The hurried, secretive nature of the satisfying of desire. The compulsion to act yet finish quickly. The guilt. But why should we feel guilty about either? The act of eating and of masturbation satisfy a basic human need efficiently and effectively. And it's fun, so less of the remorse please.

The natural bedfellows of food and sex can be seen everywhere. The all-you-can-eat buffet as orgy - greedy and indulgent with the paradox of choice destabilising and overwhelming your pleasure. It's not as satisfying as you'd hoped and you're likely to walk away infected.

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Imagery and Symbolism in 'Sexy' Ingredients

Food items as aphrodisiac? I've never really got that. It's either faintly immature - vaunted 'sexy' foods are simply, vaguely phallic, see asparagus (if your penis is pencil thin and green, of course) - or morally questionable. The symbolic cherry, and 'popping' thereof, refers to the hymen and should lose its place in the dictionary of slang with haste. The idea of forbidden fruit is borne of a negatively impactful assumption of pleasure being immoral, even illegal. We can do better than this, surely?

Food introduced into the bedroom is clichéd and slightly laughable. Just like putting on the Barry White or emerging from the bathroom in some ill advised fancy dress, reaching for the oysters in bed seems faintly absurd. And just like when the Barry White CD starts skipping, and the crotchless leather hot pants are too tight to remove, a spilt, o-zoney juice on bed or body is sure to kill the mood.

Now eating and cooking as aphrodisiac... that I'm on board with.

Eating and Cooking with Intuition and Abandon

You can tell a lot about a dining companion's boudoir behavior by the way they eat - probably why so many first dates occur in a restaurant. Personally, a partner covered in food, gorging with reckless abandon and experimenting with untried ingredients - let's just say that bodes well. Picky, prissy eating is more of a turn-off than garlicky booze on the breath and turmeric stains on fingers and shirts.

The same applies to the act of cooking. The one following the recipe to the word, not responding to sensual changes - in sound, in smell, in touch - is more often than not the one putting great faith in Cosmopolitan advice columns or despicable, woman-hating 'lad' bibles like 'The Game'. Being uptight and self-conscious about the act of eating and the denial of indulgence seems orthodox, repressed and repressive. It's not a good look. Cooking with intuition, responsiveness and flexibility leads to better results all round.

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Whether it be religious piety or oppressive, contradictory tabloid newspapers - exposed bosoms on one page, fat shaming the next - the removal of pleasure in favour of a purely biological, functional act, is detrimental to the enjoyment of both eating and sex. We need far less guilt and far more luxuriating in indulgence if we are to get the most out of life's two greatest pleasures. And honestly, who doesn't want that?