University of Hertfordshire

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When Beans were the Food of Lust

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
JournalBBC History Magazine
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


Throughout early modern medical treatises and botanical works writers detailed a range of foods that filled the body with wind and so provoked lust. Some rather surprising foods were thought of in this way including parsnips and aubergines. John Parkinson, a botanist, wrote of them aubergines ( commonly known as madd apples) that ‘they breed much windinesse, and thereby peradventure bodily lust.’ Drawing on medical texts and popular literature, such as ballads, this article explains how beans, nuts and pulses were thought to enhance a flagging male libido and improve fertility.

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