gastronomic meditations

Post image for On Food and Sensuality

This article from 2005 launched Jennifer’s new path of culinary inquiry: celebrating the sensual pleasures of food. She expanded upon it in the anthology Food and Philosophy: Eat, Think, and Be Merry with her essay “Food and Sensuality: A Perfect Pairing.”


“Never trust a woman who doesn’t like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed.”

This quote has been attributed to Italian director Federico Fellini. However, the source isn’t important — it’s the principle that matters. Implicit in its message is an understanding of how reverence for the act of eating can reveal the most sensual secrets of a female.

I am often amused at the reaction I get by expressing how closely food and sensuality are related. During a recent cooking class, I was enamored with the sight and texture of a decadent custard we had just prepared. As I drizzled the pearlescent yellow cream over a dish of succulent strawberries, I couldn’t help but to comment aloud, “This, right here, is sex on a plate.” There were some puzzled looks.

A few minutes later our chef instructor made a comment that was seemingly unrelated, but struck at the root of my sense of joy. Upon observing the creation of the dishes before us, he passionately exclaimed, “What else can satisfy you on so many levels?” Those who understood the connection offered me a conspiratorial smile; at that moment I knew which of the people in the room were expert lovers.

Think about it for a moment: Eating and sex may be the only two acts that evoke all of man’s senses simultaneously.

The sight of a peach evokes images of a woman’s delicate cheeks. The tickle of champagne on the tongue is as inviting as the touch of a lover’s fingertips. The sound of a succulent steak on the grill can inspire like the sigh of a lover swept away in a moment of passion. The very expression “mouth feel” evokes a whole new category of expression outside the world of wine tasting. Most importantly, scent attracts us like no other form of perception. It has been scientifically proven that men are most sexually aroused by the scent of cinnamon buns.

Some foods are legendary for their aphrodisiacal properties: oysters, for their resemblance of female anatomy; chocolate, for its stimulation of hormones; truffles, for their smell.

An evening of food exploration in Paris proved to me how powerful the sensory overload can be. I ventured into an Italian restaurant near my hotel and saw there was a cream soup with truffles on the menu, so I decided to indulge myself. I’m glad I was alone, for I had one of my most deeply personal realizations while eating that soup.

It has been said that truffles smell like sex. They do; but the extreme pleasure inherent in eating them goes far beyond smell. I sat smiling to myself as I savored each spoonful, experiencing a growing state of arousal I had never known could happen at the table. If the waiters happened to be observing, there is no doubt they could read exactly what was going through my mind.

Both eating and making love provide nourishment and satiation — living energy that is transformed. It is not surprising that some foods have been described as orgasmic. It is possible to swoon after experiencing a taste so sublime that one could die on the spot and be joyous for having had the good fortune to exist for that singular moment of pleasure.

Food can be a wonderful lover if you allow it to resonate within you and if you pay close attention to your body’s responses. A friend recently said to me, “I see expertly prepared cuisine as a lover that never disappoints. I embrace the pleasure she brings to my life; I sing her praises; I admire her. She is one of life’s greatest pleasures.” I’m trying not to think about how good he must be in bed.

There is also a state of joy to be found in the preparation of a dish. To a true sensualist, there is a depth of feeling evoked in the creation of edible art that stimulates a profound sense of exaltation; it is a feeling of intimate connection with the aesthetic and bodily pleasures shortly to be discovered. There is a powerful sense of urgency, a desire to unveil a world of unawakened pleasures.

I have often explained to my male friends the reasoning behind preparing a meal for a woman they want to seduce. This is not rocket science. Excite her palate, for then her body will come alive with the next phase of anticipation. If you are an awful cook, order really good takeout.

In lovemaking, sensualists experience an ethereal dance that is so intensely intimate, the body awakens nerve endings it may have never revealed prior to that moment. Eating can have the same deliriously heady effect. Even more significantly, both acts provide a deep sense of physical and spiritual nourishment.

I implore you to pay close attention to your next meal — hopefully it will be one worthy of the effort. Take a close look at the foods on your plate, and examine the juxtaposition of color and texture. Inhale deeply the aromas wafting from the dish. Take a bite and close your eyes, and observe the reactions of your body. Savor the moment, and anchor it deeply in your memory. You may notice a distinct difference the next time you make love.

Photo: Kelly Cline

Jennifer Iannolo is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Gilded Fork.

This article originally appeared on the Atlasphere.

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