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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses Paperback – April 7, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There is something about reading suggestive material that awakens the senses--too often ignored in the fray of modern life--and fires the imagination. Perhaps it brings us back to those breathless, palpitating moments from childhood when puberty was a rosy smudge on the horizon and sex was an abstract term. Aphrodite is a long, savory, enthralling ode to sensuality.

In this bawdy memoir-cum-cookbook, Allende has put together an apothecary of aphrodisiacs, from snake's blood and rhinoceros horn to the more commonplace and more palatable oysters, "those seductive tears of the sea, which lend themselves to slipping from mouth to mouth like a prolonged kiss ... can be purchased in bottles, but there they look like malignant tumors; in contrast, moist and turgid in their shells they suggest delicate vulvae--a prime example of food that appeals to the eye." Chapters such as "Alligators and Piranhas"; "Supreme Stimulus for Lechery"; "Bread, God's Grace"; "Forbidden Fruits"; and "The Saucy Way to Foreplay" offer categorical listings on the aphrodisiac qualities of meats, spices, fruits and vegetables, and alcohol. A few chapters into the book, one begins to wonder what foods aren't considered erotic: "the shape of the wheat head is considered phallic, which proves human imagination knows no limits." Wine (no surprise there) is recommended because "it lessens inhibitions, relaxes, and fosters joy, three fundamental requirements for good performance, not only in bed but at the piano as well." However, as in many situations, moderation is key: too much and you may find your guest asleep in the soup.

Allende dismisses nouvelle cuisine in favor of earthier foods and more satisfying portions. More than 100 recipes are provided, from sauces and soups to hors d'oeuvres, supplemented with her voluptuous commentary. Recipes such as Mykonos Sauce, with walnuts, pistachios, basil, garlic, and milk; Widower's Figs; Filet Mignon Belle Epoque; and Alicante Cream Soup, with leeks, shrimp, oysters, paprika, and cream will have you in an apron (and perhaps not much else) in no time.

"If cookbooks make up part of your library," Allende notes, "books on eroticism should, too." And what more delightful combination of the two than Aphrodite, which provocatively underscores the relationship between sustenance and sexuality, and the aphrodisiac qualities of watching a man cook: "[Women] suppose that if he can remember how many minutes frog legs can tolerate in the skillet, how much greater reason he will have to remember how many tickles our G spot demands." Spiced with litanies of lust and longing from Anais Nin, W.B. Yeats, Pablo Neruda, and Lady Onogoro, and enriched with Allende's warm humor and lusty joie de vive, Aphrodite will tantalize your senses and engender lascivious grins. Recommended in delicious but moderate doses, this book is not for the faint of ... er, heart. --Jhana Bach --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Sex and food, once celebrated as two of life's great joys, suffer a lot of bad press these days. Genuine epidemics, coupled with monthly findings of new things that are bad for us, have pushed otherwise happy souls into programs of agonizing denial and, in severe instances, abstinence. Thankfully, in this sophisticated defense of pleasure, novelist Allende (The House of the Spirits) puts the joy back into eating and loving with all the panache that marks the best of her fiction. Though passionate about her subject, she remains consistently whimsical with this mix of anecdotes, recipes and advice designed to enhance any romantic encounter. As always, her secret weapon is honesty: "Some [aphrodisiacs] have a scientific basis, but most are activated by the imagination." Allende's vivacity and wit are in full bloom as she makes her pronouncements: "There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill"; "When you make an omelet, as when you make love, affection counts for more than technique." Her book is filled with succinct wisdom and big laughs. Despite sections titled "The Orgy" and "Supreme Stimulus for Lechery," Allende comes down emphatically for romance over sex and for ritual over flavor in a work that succeeds in being what it intends to be?fun from the first nibble to the last.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st HarperPerennial Ed edition (April 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060930179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060930172
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Lima VINE VOICE on June 8, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Allende has created a stunning rumination on life in her new book. And as an added bonus, she's thrown in a pretty good cookbook as well. This book serves as a wonderful counterpoint to Paula. While Paula was about death and it's effects on the human spirit, Aphrodite is about living life to its fullest by savoring what nature gives us.
Allende's strength as a writer is in using the powerful emotional connection that she has to the material to create an effective narrative flow. If she doesn't have that emotional connection, she ends up relying on her characters' dialogue, which is definitely not her strong suit (see The Infinite Plan). In Aphrodite, she uses only narrative, which shines with a playfulness and joy that comes from someone who is enjoying the material.
I remember attending a lecture where Allende said that after Paula, she thought she would never write again. I'm very glad that rice pudding helped her get over these feelings. This book should be read by everyone so that they may be reminded (as she obviously has been) that it's the simplest pleasures of life that make life worth living.
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Format: Paperback
This book was wonderful. I am cooking for myself for the first time in my life. This book gave me an appreciation not only for the aphrodisiac virtues in food but also for all their other sensual qualities. I recommend it to anyone who loves food or has an appreciation for anything sensual.
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Format: Paperback
For readers of Isabel Allende's novels, this might seem an unusual book. It is a passionate, unapologetic defense of the senses generally, and a catalogue of historical sexual and culinary practices punctuated with flavorful recipes, all of which place this history-cum-cookbook almost in a genre of its own. This book naturally radiates with warmth, beginning with the highly informative personal tributes Alende delivers to each of three of her major collaborators in this book, including her mother and her literary agent. The photos and drawing which are scattered throughout this book add an artistic backdrop to the evocative prose. It also made me appreciate more wholly a number of passages Allende devotes to food and cuisine in her non-ficiton book on her native Chile, My Invented Country (which I had also reviwed on this website).
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Format: Paperback
I have read "Paula" and there is no doubt that Isabel Allende is a talented writer. Her passionate tone seems to just find a way to your heart.

Aphrodite is acookbook erotic-style... truly inspires fun ideas for both food and foreplay. Great historic facts on spices, a collection of rather comical stories and the recipes are to die for.

If you are a hedonist. Get this!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have yet to try out any of the offered recipes in this book, but I enjoyed reading it. Allende is indeed the sort of author I would expect to write about aphrodisiacs and senses. The parts of the book where she talks about personal experience or that of her family and friends are very good, but unfortunately there are a few parts where it seems like she's trying to wrap up the topic quickly and she more or less just enumerates the aphrodisiacs and discussed their history in short. These parts are less well-rounded and lacking. But all in all, I'm sure I'll return to this book again as I enjoyed it.
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By A Customer on December 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Allende's newest endeavor speaks volumes about the need to enjoy life through as many senses as possible. Her narrative style and imaginative descriptions make the reader feel sexy in the kitchen and erotic in the dining room. She shows how food, like people, can be comforting as well as sensous. I really enjoyed this book for its playfulness and its success in putting the erotica back into a good meal shared.
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Format: Paperback
I have read this book in installments. Why? Because I knew my mother would have a fit if she knew I had read it. Lusty, juicy, it's wonderful education for a curious young lady like me.
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By A Customer on February 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Yes, indeed.
Everything in all the other laudatory reviews is true, but I thought I would comment on the tactile and visual quality of the book.
It is printed on lovely smooth paper, slightly glossy and with a weight that seems more like that of an art book. It is filled with great colour illustrations, including cute drawings by Robert Shekter, and reproductions of romantic and sensual paintings. The font is elegant, especially the italics, and the book is nicely bound with a black cover and saucy red endpapers! It is a nice size for reading in bed ;)
Seldom have I seen a book that is so pleasing in every way. If you are feeling blah, this book will cheer you up. Allende's pleasure in life is infectious.
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