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Magical Food Properties?

I am inspired by the current subthread that green m&ms would make one...ahem....amorously-inclined. Everyone has heard about oysters. Some stories about the foods' powers are true, and some are, well, not so true.

What are food (or drink) "magical" properties that you have heard about? Tried to evoke? Maybe tried to avoid?

Oh here is a mundane one: that grapefruits burn fat. HAH -- a BIG LIE!

Let's have fun, shall we?

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  1. That eating oatmeal every day will reduce bad cholesterol. Or that eating Cheerios for six weeks straight will also reduce cholesterol. Think the oatmeal 'myth' might be true though.

    5 Replies
    1. re: FoodieKat

      Whole grains will reduce cholesterol. The myth is that oatmeal is unique in this advantage.

      1. re: mojoeater

        Try steel cut oatmeal, quick cooking or rolled dont help much

      2. re: FoodieKat

        I'm all for oatmeal and breakfast cereals, if they float your boat. But some of the health claims attributed to certain breakfast foods bring to mind the laughable quackery of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Victorian-era co-inventer with his brother of the breakfast cornflake). Kellogg ran a holistic sanitarium advocating a grains and nut-based diet with plenty of daily water and yogurt enemas (for "squeaky-clean" intestines).

        He advised, "Avoid poison-containing foods. Tea, coffee, chocolate and cocoa contain poisonous alkaloids which impair digestion, damage the nerves, and promote disease of the liver, kidneys, and blood-vessels. Cereal beverages and hot fruit juices are wholesome substitutes for tea and coffee...."

        He wrote elsewhere, "The use of highly-seasoned foods, of rich sauces, spices and condiments... has an undoubted influence on the sexual nature of boys, stimulating those organs into too early activity.... The use of mustard, pepper, pepper-sauce, spices, rich gravies, and all similar kinds of food, should be carefully avoided by young persons. They are not wholesome for either old or young; but for the young they are absolutely dangerous."

        1. re: racer x

          Anthony Hopkins played Kellogg in a wonderful movie entitled "The Road to Wellville." Highly entertaining.

          1. re: racer x

            Hey, Dr. Kellogg wasn't all wrong. Tea, coffee, chocolate, and cocoa contain oxalates, which are thought to contribute to formation of kidney stones in certain sufferers (of which I am one). So they might indeed "promote disease of the ... kidneys".

            Not that I think Dr. K was anything but a crank - but even a broken clock is right twice a day!

            Anne

        2. Not sure if this is along the topic, but I wonder if anyone else has the same reaction:

          Avocado makes my dreams extremely vivid the night that I eat them. Not vivid as in lewd, but vivid as in life-like - no matter what the topic of the dream is.

          Here's one: Capsaicin = endorphin rush.

          2 Replies
          1. re: gordeaux

            I've never had that experience with avocados, but the fact that ingesting capsaicin (hot peppers) causes the body to produce endorphins is not magic, it's quite real.

            1. re: gordeaux

              Yeah, but when you're hurting that bad, who can enjoy the endorphins?

            2. Mountain oysters and ginseng should turn any guy itnto a raging ... well, whatever. Shark parts seem to be popular in Asia, though I don't remember which parts.

              1. Raw apple cider vinegar, honey and water will act as a marvelous tonic, clear up skin, purify my body, give me energy yada yada yada. Similar to the effect of drinking kombucha tea.

                Frankly, though, ACV in water and kombucha both do seem to make me feel good. But I can't tell if the acidity perks me up or if it's all those good vitamins and enzymes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Vetter

                  i could use a good spring tonic!

                2. i'd suggest you check out the book Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by isabel allende (http://www.amazon.com/Aphrodite-Memoi...). it's a book on food and related eroticism, so it includes lots of aphrodisiacs and such. it's a great read!!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mrsjenpeters

                    Also, "The Fruit Hunters" by Adam Leith Gollner- I think it's coming out in May. He writes a lot about why humans have a natural erotic relationship with fruit- sometimes it's a bit questionable, but always thought-provoking.

                    1. re: mrsjenpeters

                      Don't forget Like Water for Chocolate and Adaptation.

                    2. I've always wondered why there seems to be quite an obsession with dried animal genitals and the like in Asian stores... a *lot* of these things are supposed to make you 'strong'. Why is this such a major issue in, say, China? Is there a genetic fear of impotence?

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: linguafood

                        Whether it's dried animal horns, genitals or Viagra, we as humans are hardwired to procreate.

                        1. re: Vee7

                          Yeah, but I haven't found many cultures as (seemingly) obsessed with having to help mother nature out here ----- jmo.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            It's not about impotence, it's about male strength to have more kids. In China a large family equals prosperity. Any help to have more children, whether it works or not, holds that magical property.

                            1. re: Vee7

                              In China today, a large family equals falling into disgrace. And yet, there is still an obsession with foods/medicine to improve male potency.

                              When I was there a few years ago, a male travelling companion finally got fed up with having these items continually pointed out. He said that it wasn't a problem he'd ever had to deal with and wondered if the Chinese were so different in that department.

                              1. re: 512window

                                Ha. At least I am not the only one who finds this rather strange...

                              2. re: Vee7

                                It's a common cultural theme throughout Asia. In fact there is a mental illness specific to Asians called "koro," which involves an irrational fear that the male organs are receding into the body.

                          2. re: linguafood

                            After getting an assessment from a traditional doctor that I had trouble with my tendons, he recommended eating...you guessed it...tendons. The ideas is that eating the very part that you are having trouble with helps your own is common on the traditional medicine circuit.

                          3. Where to begin?

                            an apple a day to keep the doctor away

                            yogurt promoting longevity

                            putting a raw steak on a black eye

                            wearing (or eating) asafoetida to prevent or treat colds & other respiratory infections

                            rubbing egg yolk into scalp for hair loss

                            1. The Colombian fruit, borojó (Borojoa patinoi), is thought to have aphodisiacal properties in Colombia.

                              3 Replies
                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  Doesn't work anywhere is my guess. But, thanks, a dangling prepositional phrase!

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Did you know you can trade one dangling prepositional phrase for five dangling participles and a borojo?

                              1. Oh, forgot the most obvious: garlic keeps vampires at bay :-D

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: linguafood

                                  Hey, do you know any garlic eaters who've been bitten by vampires? Not likely. QED.

                                  1. re: BobB

                                    Cattle in Central America need to eat or wear garlic: vampire bats are a serious problem in some areas.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Also in Mexico. And every once in a while some of them fly too far north and get mixed in with the hanging residents of Carlesbad Caverns. Don't know why Hollywood hasn't picked up on that one. Maybe if Bela were still with us?

                                2. Grapefruit or grapefruit juice does negate high blood pressure medicine.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: BlueHerons

                                    Actually, grapefruits and grapefruit juice are more likely to *increase* the potency of certain medications, notably high blood pressure medicines of the calcium channel blocker class, like Norvasc. Grapefruits inhibit an enzyme that metabolizes certain drugs: less metabolism means higher levels and/or longer duration of the drug in your body.

                                    1. re: racer x

                                      I think BlueHerons got it slightly wrong. Grapefruit and lipitor (for high cholesterol) don't play well together.

                                      I'm so lucky, I get to take lipitor *and* high blood pressure medicine (diovan) so I'm an expert.

                                      1. re: racer x

                                        Mayo Clinic lists the medications to avoid with grapefruit, tangelos and Seville oranges (most commercial orange marmalade): http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food...

                                        1. re: racer x

                                          "Actually, grapefruits and grapefruit juice are more likely to *increase* the potency of certain medications"

                                          during my misspent youth I, ummm, "heard" that any kind citrus juice would elevate the sensations of certain illegal psychotropic ingestibles...

                                      2. Ice cream and apple are good for depression.

                                        Becuz I said so ... :-)

                                        1. My parents had to suffer through weekly (perhaps even daily *shudder*) doses of cod liver oil -- it was just considered to be really healthy and good for you. Whew. Glad to not be of that generation.

                                          I was told as a kid to eat a lot of carrots because they were supposed to be good for your eyesight. All those B vitamins, I suppose. Ironically, without my contact lenses I am half blind.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            The connection between eating carrots and improved vision isn't entirely magical. Carrots (and spinach) are a good source of vitamin A, which is necessary for good nightvision. At least one study has shown that nightblindness in pregnant women who are vitamin A-deficient can be corrected by eating carrots. (Note that this study was conducted in Nepal. Very few people eating a typical American diet would be vitamin A-deficient.)

                                            Another study (including more than 50,000 nurses who were age 45 - 67 at enrollment) suggested that the risk of developing cataracts severe enough to warrant removal was about 40% lower in those with the highest total vitamin A intake compared to the lowest. The same study also found that eating spinach was most consistently associated with lowest risk.

                                          2. Guacamole is good for your hair, so is beer.

                                            Beer settles your stomach

                                            CHampagne makes you happy - at least I always perk up when having a glass of champers!

                                            1. Gelatin makes your finger nails strong. I believed that in junior high. I have no idea whether it's true or not, but now I don't care.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: Glencora

                                                This is really peripheral but so interesting I just have to mention it.

                                                There is a kind of white heirloom tomato from S.E. Asia (usually sold in this country under the variety name "Phantom of Laos") that according to the local legen is supposed to function as a infalliable ghost dectector. Supposedly if you put one on your windowsill at night and there is a ghost in the area it will begin to glow in the dark. like I said really peripheral but you cant get much more "magical" than that.

                                                1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                  Now you're making me think mischievously. Give one to someone you know, tell them the legend, before you give it to them insert an LED on a remote control. Let them do their own laundry! '-)

                                                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                    jumpingmonk, your post is not peripheral at all. those kinds of tales are what the op is about, too. tell us more!

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      There not much moreI can tell you vis a vis the tomato. I got the story when i got the seed (from a seed seller in Belgium I believe) The tomato itself (based on the picture on the packet) is a cream-white fruited one, of mid to beefsteak size.
                                                      as for other food legends there is one that assigns magical love powers to a philomenia (an almond containg two kernels) i think it is somewhat along the lines of if a man an woman find one and each eat one of the kernels they are destined to wed.
                                                      Speaking of nuts in my family there has always been a beilef that a walnut with three or four ridges (instead or the normal two) is a powerful good luck charm. (four of course, beats three since it is rarer) does that count?
                                                      An of course there is the old belief (common in parts of Italy) that basil will grow and taste best if it is sown, tended, and harvested while screaming obscentites.

                                                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                        Wow. If that were the case, my house should be covered in basil plants.... mostly because of the screaming obscenities part :-D

                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                          well the full orgins of the "curse the basil" is as I understand as follows.
                                                          The modern "sweet basil" as we know it was orignally deveoped from the Tulsi, or Holy Basil plant of India the same one that some people (like me) like to drink as tea. It was first brough to europe around the period of Alexader the Great. Along with the plant came the legend of its creation which is pretty gruesome ( basically the Indian legend goes that a beautiful girl named Vrindia upon discovring that her husband had been killed threw herself on his funeral pyre. The gods commerated her dutifulness by transforming her charred hair into Tulsi.) While in Europe, the story metamophosed into one about a Girl name Lisabetta who, unable to bear seperation from her dead lover, goes mad, cuts his head off, puts it in a flowerpot and places a basil bush on top of it which she then waters everyday with her tears until she dies of a broken heart. The connection between the plant and madness is actually where the word basil comes from (basil is in taken from basilisk as in the hypertoxic mythical moster (familiar to anyone who's read Harry Potter) therfore the custon is that when you plant or harvest basil you should "go mad" and scream swear words at it.

                                                  2. re: Glencora

                                                    That is true. Gelatin is made from the collagen extracted from bones, tendons, hooves and whatever else they can't sell. It is also good for arthritis. See Jill's post above, where her Dr. told her to eat tendons for tendon problems.

                                                    http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/ques...

                                                  3. I'm not sure it fits the category of magic, but Mexican coca cola helps my migraines. And I happen to think that migraines are actually caused by demons that get in your head and used their clawed feet to push on your eyeballs, so maybe the coke does have magical properties.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: Judith

                                                      Well, there is hope for all of us who miss real sugar in Coca Cola! It was announced last week that popcorn prices are (have?) going up by 15¢ PER SERVING! All corn prices are on the climb because of farmers switchen to corn raised for fuel. Soooo... There is talk that soda manufacturers will soon be switching back to sugar to remain cost competitive. Yay "Real Thing!"

                                                      1. re: Judith

                                                        I knew somebody once who swore different soft drinks had different properties to address all sorts of common ailments. nausea, headaches, tension, etc.

                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                          I do know that if my stomach is queasy ginger ale, or ginger tea, work wonders.

                                                          I got a new book that lists all kinds of foods for different situations. As far as aphrodisiac goes it recommends these foods; Dark chocolate, 6 oz of sirloin steak, and vanilla ice cream! For stress: 1 cup of low-fat yogurt, 2 tbsp mixed nuts, red bell peppers, peppermint tea, and a handful of sesame seeds.

                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                            Ginger's been used for thousands of years in China to help with stomach ailments. I remember my mom giving me ginger ale every time I had a stomach ache. And if you don't have ginger on hand, you can try mint as well.

                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                              Don't forget seasickenss, when the mythbusters tested seasickness remedies ginger beat all of the rest (including the actual seasickness medicine from the pharmacy.)
                                                              Since so much of the posting is on aphrodisicaly properties I would be riemiss in not metioning a famous one- Durian! (the hyper smelly south east asian fruit) As they say in Malysia "When the Durians come down, the sarongs go up!"

                                                              speaking of fruit has anyone else ever heard of something called a keppel? It a relitive of the cherimoya found in south east asia and is supposed to make your sweat smell like violets. Not sure if that counts, but in my book anythig that makes your sweat smell attractive (particualry going somewhere hot and hunid where onese acess to regular showers is not guanteed) would be pretty damn magical!

                                                      2. Maybe I'm missing something here, but did alcohol really go unmentioned?!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Halie

                                                          I said Champagne!!!!

                                                          Oh and I totally forgot until now - Gin and Tonic! The English used to drink tonic to ward off the malaria ridden mosquitoes nad to make it taste better they added gin!

                                                          mmmm Gin and Tonic......

                                                        2. Asparagus, tomatoes, an aphrodisiac.

                                                          Blueberry, antioxidant, vision and memory loss. Where was I?

                                                          1. Hot sauce swigged directly from the bottle = major infusion of testosterone

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. In reverse, some people display an almost irrational fear of red meat and pork because they might cause heart attack, CJS or trychinosis.

                                                              In terms of magical: organic and macrobiotic foods. I've heard foaming-at-the-mouth yuppies, hands a-filled with heirloom tomatoes and seasonal herbs claiming organic vegetables contain more nutrients, cure disease, save the environment, liberate Tibet, etc. etc. Not surprisingly these are also the type of people who believe that eating nothing but juice for 5 days "cleanses" your system.

                                                              1. An unmagic property: grains contain narcotic alkaloids, which is why bread is a comfort food. And grains are also mildly toxic. Fortunately, sourdough fermentation cleans up some of their problems. (See Katherine Czapp's articles at www.westonapricefoundation.org.)

                                                                1. pbs "live to a 100" health guru, dr. roizen, says avocados are named because of their shape -- a derivation of mayan for "testicle plant" --- he says avocados help prevent certain prostate problems.

                                                                  on the green m&m's front: my bag of green peanut m&m candies has the coyly flirtatious green gal m&m saying, "honey, it's all true." great marketing!

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                    actually, it says "sweetie....it's all true," and the bag says "the new color of love.."

                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                      So that's what started the "green" movement! Puts it in a whole different perspective, huh?