Valentine’s Day’s origins are a bit blurry, but some historians trace the holiday back to Roman times, when the days bridging February 13 and 15 marked a series of pagan fertility rituals known collectively as Lupercalia. As with many Roman traditions, this holiday involved ceremonial bloodshed—which might explain red’s designation as the official color of the modern St. Valentine’s celebration.
Culinarily speaking, there’s little information on what fertility-enhancing foods the Romans indulged in, though odds are good it wasn’t chocolate packaged in heart-shaped boxes. Considering the time of year, it isn’t too big of a stretch to imagine the Romans of yore were gorging themselves on truffles—and we’re not talking the chocolate variety.
February is peak season for the coveted fungi throughout Italy, France, and other parts of the world. And with their musky, pheromone-mimicking aroma and seductive rarity, truffles certainly play the role of aphrodisiac well. There’s only one way to discover whether they deliver on their sultry reputation, and that’s to share the taste experience with your sweetheart and see what transpires (or doesn’t).
Fresh truffles cost a small fortune on those rare occasions when you can find them, but truffle oil is more affordable and easier to track down, especially at Italian specialty stores. For a St. Valentine’s day treat, try one of these truffle-inspired recipes, and tell us how it went!
Truffled Wild Mushrooms Over Whipped White Beans (pictured above)
Aurelia d’Andrea’s passion for travel is deeply intertwined with her love of food. Whether in Perth, Prague, or Phnom Penh, she always gravitates toward local markets in search of edible treasures, and takes pleasure in recreating tasty travel memories at home in her tiny Parisian kitchen.