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on February 9, 2018
I grabbed this when I saw it. The book seems to be out of print. Over the years, I've given several copies (I keep my and use it), and I check bookstores I visit looking for another or two for gifts.

This is a fabulous, if a little lewd, memoir/cookbook. I'm not entirely sold on the aphrodisiac claims, but the vignettes are amusing and personal. It is great reading and many of the recipes make for great eating and presentation.
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... that works well on several different levels. Starting with the presentation. I recently reviewed another book on the evolution of the cuisine in France, and the book's "presentation" was truly dreadful, and I docked one star simply for that; there were way too many errors that were easy to correct with just a bit more time. What a startling contrast this book is. There is the quality of the paper, for a book carrying a normal paperback price. The art work, and there are 43 pictures and photographs identified in the appendix, is simply arresting. As is suitable for an author originally from Chile, there is a heavy Latin American influence in the selections. You sense that hours may have been spent on the selection of just one of the paintings. The display technique for the pictures is appealing; with a small portion of the painting on an earlier page foreshadowing what will follow (no doubt there is an obscure Latin phrase for such a technique). Almost half the book is recipes, from "dear mom," Panchita's, and no, we won't complain to her. We are thereby given meaningful instructions so that we can go to the "laboratory" and test the efficacy of various aphrodisiacs.

Like many aphrodisiacs, there is some unique trigger that connected two synapses in my brain, between Isabel Allende, and Andrea Dworkin. Surely a unique coupling. No question Dworkin had a tough life, how much was self-inflicted is beside the point. Dworkin though focused on all the unpleasantness in male and female relationships, was light-years away from any eroticism, and died early. Allende could have focused on the unpleasant aspects of her life--being the niece who the Salvador Allende, who died in the CIA coup against the democratically elected government of Chile in 1973, on September 11th even. She was forced into exile, to Venezuela initially, carrying a small bag of dirt from her garden, her homeland, that she knew she might never see again. Yet she chose to celebrate the aspects that make life worth living, good food, and love.

And it is her writing that is the ultimate strength of this book. She is playful and witty, and certainly suggestive, coquettish even, and you feel confident she would not lead you down a path unrequited. In preparation for the book, she has read broadly from the world's literature, on the nexus between food and eroticism, and has spun some marvelous vignettes. It seems inappropriate to highlight a few, at the expense of the rest, but nonetheless, I particularly liked "A Night in Egypt," "Creatures of the Sea," and "Colomba in Nature."

There are so many numerous "takeaways," as those harried will say, including her quote of Oscar Wilde, that "love is a mutual misunderstanding." And how can one ever eat almonds again without thinking about Cybele?

A rich magnum of kudos to Allende. She wrote this book when she was 50, which she said was the beginning of the reflective age. Now she is 60, or a bit more, an age that the ancient Greeks considered appropriate for putting aside the matters of the flesh, and for concentrating on the philosophical problems of life. I suspect it will be one aspect of Greek wisdom that Allende will not assimilate, and that garlic, asparagus, eggplant, and so much more will continue to pass her lips.

Thanks for a most inspirational book.
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on September 22, 2007
John Updike once said that there are three great mysteries in life: sex, art, and religion. Isabel Allende has added food to that mysterious mix in a delightful way --- food is sexy and erotic and enticing in her book and is explored in a way that reminds one of lacy lingerie, seductive but mysterious at the same time. Allende, over fifty and still recovering from the painful loss of her daughter, writes boldly and bravely of how loss and all its pain is still concurrent with life's joys.

As a writer myself who has written both a cookbook and about the erotic lives of people over fifty, I found Allende's honesty, sensuality, and joy utterly luscious and also comforting in that even as we grow older we have our senses and can celebrate them as long as we allow ourselves to. This is a beautiful book with wonderful illustrations including the sexiest peaches you will ever see. The recipes are intriguing. But more than anything it is an affirmation that our senses have the power to heal us and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
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on March 16, 2013
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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on April 24, 2015
Allende doesn't shy away from using personal experiences in the kitchen and in the bedroom to educate and entertain. I laughed and added the book to my kitchen collection with the intention of trying many of the included recipes. I learned many ways to make the most of culinary skills to prepare for a glorious finale in the bedroom and anywhere else that is convenient once the ball gets rolling. So much fun and yet very practical as well. Another Allende triumph and a book worth keeping.
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on August 15, 2017
Perfect condtiton.
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on April 18, 2017
Mrs. Allende and I share a gastrosensual view of life. I loved it!
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on January 9, 2013
I suspect tht once someone reads this offering from Allende they could never look at love or food the same way again. It is an amazing, world-view changing take on life and love.
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on August 17, 2014
I love the writing, but have not tried out the recipes yet. Recipes seem complicated, and the ingredients are not available in my part of the world.
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on January 28, 2014
Already wrote my review. Isabel Allende must have had a "blast, fits of laughter!!" writing such witty book - also informative - good recipes as well..........!!!

V.A.
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