World’s Strangest Aphrodisiacs

Spanish Fly:

The secretions of a certain type of European blister beetle—which, when applied to human flesh, cause irritation and swelling—have been used to induce tumescence since the days of Julius Caesar. The Marquis de Sade reportedly used them to fuel his exploits; even today the acidic content in the secretions, called cantharidin, is used for animal husbandry in the US Another irony is Spanish fly’s other Viagra-like side effect: priapism.

Where to Find It: True cantharides is illegal but distilled versions can be found in apothecaries all over Europe.


Skink (Lizard) Flesh:
North Africa

Hardly the sexiest lizard, this small leaf-eating little critter still possesses the power of seduction. Credited for making the eater irresistible, the skink saw its rise to amorous fame in ancient Greece, where Pliny the Elder, in Natural History, insisted its muzzle and feet should be steeped in wine with rocket seed and drunk to ignite sexual vigor.

Where to Find It: Today skinks are more commonly kept as pets than consumed as aphrodisiacs, though native tribes in North Africa are still said to eat them.


Bird’s Nest Soup:

The nests made by Asian swifts—which employ the cave-dwelling birds’ own saliva as a sort of mortar—have been prized for their aphrodisiac properties by centuries of Chinese. Known locally as “caviar of the East,” the nests are carefully harvested from places that make collection challenging, resulting in an expensive product. One recipe: soak the nest in water overnight, remove loose feathers, and boil, adding rock sugar at the end.

Where to Find It: Restaurants in Bangkok’s Chinatown and luxury hotels like the Liu at the Conrad Hotel and Chang Palace at Shangri-La in China.

Wolf Meat:
The Philippines and Mongolia

Though man’s best friend is the more commonly consumed ingredient, wolves are a popular aphrodisiac, particularly during winter months (ask any Mongolian). In the Philippines it’s prepared adobo style, marinated with vegetables, and also served in kilawin, a vinegar-based dish. Beyond the obvious explanation—that any animal that can howl is undeniably sexy—wolf’s warming effect is associated with an eater’s sexual upsurge.

Where to find it: The grey wolf is found in Europe, Asia and North America.


Tiger Penis:
China, Taiwan, and South Korea

Tiger Woods jokes aside, this is one of the world’s most distasteful aphrodisiacs, as it’s partially responsible for the tiger’s near extinction. The market for it is mostly Asian, as traditional Chinese medicine has credited the rare member with bumping up male stamina. Though virtually every part of the animal is turned into some kind of “medicinal” treatment, tiger penis is most often served as a soup, boiled sometimes along with tiger bone, and spiced.

Where to find it: Tiger penis is found in parts of China and Southeast Asia, particularly in Laos and Cambodia.


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