CATERING FOR ‘THE LADIES HOME EROTICA’ by Antoinette Constable
One of the Kensington Ladies, my English friend, who, like her partners is known for her lusty works of literature, invited herself for tea one afternoon. As we drank Darjeeling tea and nibbled plum tartlets sprinkled with almonds, we talked briefly about books or movies. Suddenly she exclaimed, “You’ll do it! Problem solved.”
“Do what?” I asked.
“You love cooking; we love what you prepare. There you are! Our anthology is being published by Ten Speed Press. The Ladies Home Erotica, is right now coming off the press. Everything is ready. We’ve sent the invitations. We need a wonderful party at my house in ten days.”
My friend’s home up in the Oakland hills is lovely. It offers fabulous views from its elegant rooms, but I’m sure I frowned.
“No, I said, “Impossible. I’ve never cooked for more than ten people; I wouldn’t know where to start .”
“There’ll be between eighty and a hundred guests,” she replied airily. “Just multiply by six or seven, whatever works. It’ll be perfect. I must run! See you in ten days.”
“ I don’t even know what you want!” I wailed.
“Do what you like,” she said. “Here, that should cover it.” She pushed a wad of banknotes into my hand before vanishing down the stairs. I stood, paralyzed, my fists full of dollars. What if there wasn’t enough food? What if, because of my catering, the masked Kensington Ladies didn’t like the food? What if the party to celebrate the Kensington Ladies’ book turned out to be a fiasco?
My mind spun. I was between jobs, and the idea of “doing what I liked” was exciting, but what on earth did one serve at an erotic buffet? Which foods were aphrodisiacs? Which were not? I’d never considered the question.
I ran to the library and gravely consulted several books, hoping to look professorial with my glasses low on my nose as I took notes. I discovered that during the Middle Ages garden peas were considered highly aphrodisiacal, and were therefore reserved for the aristocracy. Because tomatoes were believed to be so poisonous, they were to be used strictly for decoration.
Eggs, from geese’s to caviar, as well as snails, were aphrodisiacs because of their resemblance to semen. I learned that avocado trees are called testicle trees in Spanish, that banana flowers have a phallic shape, and that fennel contains a natural estrogen; that raspberries, in erotic literature, are called “fruit nipples.” Then there is the pineapple, used in homeopathic medicine to treat impotence; so are pine nuts, since their zinc content helps maintain male potency. And there is quince; saffron and cinnamon, whose excess causes hallucinations; sage, pistachio nuts, turnips, nutmeg. I don’t want to bore you with more. Continue Reading »