WE recently chatted with Amy Reiley, author of Fork Me, Spoon Me, The Sensual Cookbook, at The Fig Pantry, famed chef Sondra Bernstein’s new Sonoma food market. Reiley describes her book—a collection of aphrodisiacal recipes—as a sort of The Joy of Cooking meets The Joy of Sex. (Life of Reiley; $13.95, www.forkmespoonme.com, www.eatsomethingsexy.com)
Wine Enthusiast: What’s the idea behind your book?
Amy Reiley: It’s an exploration of the sensuality of food, and encourages people to have more fun with food, using romance as a vehicle.
WE: I mean, I’ve heard of the whipped cream thing, but—
AR: No, no. It’s truly a serious cookbook, but it’s also very much inspired by The Joy of Sex. So The Joy of Sex had a starter chapter about foreplay, while mine has a chapter on “starters” that could also be vehicles for foreplay.
WE: I’m looking at your recipe for matzoh ball soup. Are there specific, uh, things you recommend for specific dishes?
AR: Oh, yes. In the back, there’s actually a section on recommended “venues.”
WE: I’ve noticed that a lot of people buying your book today are elderly. What’s that all about?
AR: It’s kind of cool! I did the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival, and this one woman who bought a book had to be at least 85. I think part of their motivation is that the recipes are very simple, use a small number of ingredients, and most are made for two people.
WE: Aphrodisiacs have come a long way since oysters.
AR: Well, it’s funny, because oysters probably have the most legitimacy as an aphrodisiac. Aphrodite was supposedly born of the sea. Last Spring, a group of scientists did studies and found that oysters, clams and mussels actually raise sexual hormone levels in men and women.
WE: So instead of Viagra, you just—
AR: Pop oysters!
WE: What are the top five aphrodisiacs?
AR: I would put oysters up there. And chili peppers.
WE: Chili peppers! Why? Because they make you hot?
AR: Yes. They raise your body temperature, make your tongue tingle, and make your lips swell, so you’re more kissable.
WE: Number three.
AR:We’ll put chocolate in there. Number four, most people don’t know that cheese is a big aphrodisiac.
WE: Okay, number five.
AR: Ooh, Champagne!
WE: Is there one recipe that combines all five?
AR:Well, there’s one for chocolate-smothered brie.
WE: With oysters?
AR: Doesn’t that sound like a great meal? Oysters, chocolate-smothered brie and Champagne, although where are you going to mix in the chiles? That’s the tough part.
WE: You’re the expert.
AR:You know, ginger has a lot of the same properties as chile, so you could do oysters with a ginger mignonette, right? And Champagne, and then go to the chocolate-smothered brie.
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