Arugula as an aphrodisiac

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arugula aphrodisiac

Arugula, also known as rocket, garden rocket, rocket salad, rugola, rucola and roquette, is a type of leaf vegetable, which looks like a longer leaved and open lettuce. Rocket is an herbaceous annual or perennial; a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae = Cruciferae). It is aromatic and rich in vitamins A, C, and iron. The term arugula (variations of Italian dialects around “arigola”) is the term often used by the Italian diaspora in Australia and North America; both words arugula and rocket ultimately come from the Latin word stem roc and eruca which means “harsh,” in reference to its bitter flavor especially when collected from the wild.

Arugula is generally used in salads but also cooked as a vegetable with pastas or meats and in coastal Slovenia (especially Koper), it is added in the “squeaky cheese burek.” In Italy, it is often used in pizzas, added just before the baking period ends or immediately afterwards, so that it can wilt in the heat. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in “pesto,” either in addition to [basil] or as a (non-traditional) substitute. A dish in Veneto consists of shredded, cured horsemeat on a bed of arugula dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Arugula has been grown as a vegetable in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, and was considered and documented as an aphrodisiac since the first century A.D. It was grown for both its leaves and the seed. The seed was used for flavoring oils. On another interesting note, the seed has also been used back in the Roman times as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions. It was added to grated orchid bulbs and parsnips and also combined with pine nuts and pistachios back then. Its leaves were also used along with romaine, chicory, mallow, and lavender and seasoned with a "cheese sauce for lettuce" to form a typical Roman aphrodisiac salad.

The ancient Romans considered arugula a potent aphrodisiac because it was consecrated to Priapus. Unmistakable by virtue of his exaggerated phallus, Priapus was one of Rome’s minor fertility gods and also the protector of gardens and domestic animals. He inspired many epigrammatic poems, which were essentially graffiti clothed in the refined forms of classical poetry. Modern herbalists go light on the aphrodisiac qualities and generally recommend arugula as an aid to digestion though.

Arugula’s complex flavors (spicy and earthy) explode in your mouth. That explosive quality was another reason, besides the etymology, why arugula is also known as “salad rocket.” There are some people who believe that eating its seeds (leaves also) does something to your brain which enlivens it. That, perhaps, and its spicy “rocket like” effect to the palette made the Romans believe that it’s an aphrodisiac.

And finally, a word of caution: eating this might lead to a night of sizzling and sensuous passion you will never forget.


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