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Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses Paperback – April 7, 1999
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.