Tuesday evening, Manhattan. In the restaurant “Allen and Delancey” a bunch of hipsters in heels gathered in the hall, bathed in candlelight. I chose a panoramic place in the corner where it was most convenient to play an anthropologist, and hid behind the wine list, making notes.
From the point of view of the rituals leading to pairing, at the table 24 the classical scheme is played out. In the shade of a magnificent velvet curtain, the guy who has carefully worked to give himself a casual, shaggy look (he looks like 28-29) scoops up shiny pieces of scallop and raw fish, while the girl sitting opposite looks at him with hungry eyes.
Her words are lost in the noise, but she raises an eyebrow when he raises the spoon, and gracefully leans forward across the table. Her lips are closed on a spoon. He slowly takes the device out of her mouth. She feels the fish melt in her mouth, and makes a delighted moan: “Mmmm.” Her eyes widen. It’s crazy how tasty. This dish… This guy…
A couple at the 24th table may not understand this, but they are dancing in this dance of seduction like puppets, and the whole group of neurotransmitters and hormones, which scientists have just begun to understand, are pulling the strings in this case.
Scallop has long been considered an aphrodisiac – according to Greek legends, the goddess Aphrodite descended to the ground in the clam shell, but no food can cause such a level of desire that I have just observed. If we examine what actually happens, from a scientific point of view, we have a much more complicated picture of how food and sex intersect in the brain. In fact, if you could draw a brain map of a woman at the 24th table while she feels the taste of pickled clam, and again – later, when she is in bed with a guy, you would notice a strong similarity in sensations. The intersection and interaction of the processes that regulate food and sex in the brain is so strong that it is not surprising: in real life, these processes are also constantly at the junction. Food, as we learn, is the best toy for sex.
Why does she always choose food before sex
“It’s impossible to think normally, love normally, sleep normally, if you don’t eat normally” Virginia Woolf
Maybe the dinner is not so sophisticated and the atmosphere is not so convenient, but for a hamster there is better place than a cage in the Jill Schneider research laboratory in Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, just do not think. Inside each cage, a female hamster is faced with a choice: to stay at home or choose one of two tunnels, one of which leads to food, and the other to a “sexually experienced adult male”. For both ladies, this is not a question of free choice. This is a matter of metabolic state. Will food seem more attractive than sex? The thing is, it turns out how hungry she is.
Think again about table number 24. At the very moment when a woman begins to take foie gras, her body begins to process food into sugar, fat and protein. Excess energy is stored in the body as fat, and a hormone called leptin is produced and begins to affect the body, penetrating the hypothalamus. Then the battle between food and sex begins. Leptin clears the way for hormones that are responsible for the state of arousal. At the same time, it blocks neuropeptide Y, which regulates appetite and blocks desire.
This effect was discovered using hamster cages. If a leptin is squirted by a hungry hamster, she immediately runs after sex, ignoring the urge of the stomach. If there is no leptin, then neuropeptide Y takes up work, causing the hamster to first satisfy his appetite, and then run to the furry gigolo next door.
“From an evolutionary point of view, this is completely reasonable,” says Dr. Satya P. Kalra, a professor at the University of Florida who studies the same areas in the brain. “If you are terribly hungry and not sure when the next batch of food will be and where you can’t flirt with a hamster next door, you can miss the chance to get food, and for a long time.”
The system is extremely primitive: we are a little different in this sense from hamsters. But leptin, which is activated around midnight, still strongly affects people: a well-fed woman will be more persistent in wanting sex, and a hungry woman may not want anything at all. So yes, invite her to dinner. And if you’re smart, then for dessert you’ll get perfect sex. But to throw at the girl before going to the restaurant, we would not recommend it to you.
How brain training will improve privacy
“Great food is like great sex. The more you have the more you want” Gael Greene
Waffles are thin, like paper, and the diameter of a silver dollar. Because of them, 400 lively gourmets gathered in the New York Academy of Sciences. They all fall silent at once when the word takes Linda Bartoshuk. “Now you will find out if you have the ability to have extreme taste sensitivity,” she says with a look as if we are talking about superpowers, about which we never knew before. “Only 25 percent of the population can say that they are in this group,” she continues. – It is a pity, but I’m not one of them. But we know that there are more such people among the cooks. And among women, too, more. “
Bartoshuk tries to discover tasters from nature in order to boast impressive results of laboratory research in the same way a physical therapist studies athletes. Waffle is the first qualifying stage of the competition. A shell containing a bitter chemical component called 6-n-propylthiouracil will cause vomiting on the taster of nature, while others will simply feel the taste of paper. “Taster by nature lives in a world of taste pulsating with neon inks,” she explains. “For everyone else, the world is painted in pastel colors.” Bartoschuk begins the ceremony with religious reverence: “First try the waffle tongue. If not too bitter, take by mouth. If this is not too bitter, then damn it, well, shake it in your mouth! If you still can not find anything, then I am very sorry. You”.
And now four hundred waffles rustle. God begins to know what. Someone choked like hell. Others raise their eyebrows, chewing furiously, as if trying to force a feeling of bitterness. As for me, I spit out the waffle in just a second. “I am a nature taster!” I glance around the hall and again meet the woman in black-rimmed glasses. This time she smiles.
Bartoshuk asks everyone to raise their hands and voiced the counting results. More than 40 percent are naturally tasters, which is 15 percent more than usual.
Through the whole herd, we fall out into the corridor, and there – hummus and cheese, wine and beer, and for dessert – a rare kind of drug, the so-called miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum – red berries the size of pistachios, the contents of which stick to the tongue and interchange sour and sweet.
“We don’t taste it with the tongue, or with the fingertips, or with other, um, areas,” Dr. Adam Pak, a neuroscientist at Utica College and a member of the Institute for Sensory Impacts in Syracuse, tells me a few days later. “We do all this with the brain.”
“Fireworks begin in a section of gray matter, which is arranged in a strip – like a tennis player’s bandage, from ear to ear. It is called the somatosensory cortex. To understand the importance of this part of the brain, imagine the neuroanatomy of a violinist at a concert, for example, Itzhak Perlman. Perlman may have a hundred more receptors than you, and his receptors may even be more sensitive or better positioned through parenting. But this is not why Perlman can bring the audience to tears with the help of a 1714 Stradivarius violin.”
“Professional musicians are not born,” says Puck, “but the part of the human brain that is responsible for the hand playing the violin is built over time through practice and becomes larger than the other part. Gradually, this process goes further and further and extends to other senses and other areas of the body.”
What can be transferred from food to sex
Of those chemists are still joker. After all, who else can turn the exciting topic of carnal lust into a 42-page collection of notes, graphs and quotes? Once, however, you ask them a question about the Coolidge effect, they all become Conan O’Brien. The joke is that one day, US President Calvin Coolidge and his wife visited a chicken farm. The first lady, seeing the ratio of roosters and hens, was surprised by the productivity of roosters.
— How did the roosters, which are so few, manage to produce so many eggs? – she asked.
— Easy. Roosters impregnate chickens ten times a day, – said the farmer.
— Maybe you should tell Mr. Coolidge about this? – always noticed dissatisfied first lady
— Ten times a day with the same chiken? – asked President Coolidge.
— With many chickens, – said the farmer.
— Maybe you should tell Mrs. Coolidge about this? – said the president.
True or not, the bike illustrates a very important finding in the field of sensual pleasure research. “The desire response system is anatomically larger and more powerful,” explains Dr. Kent Berridge, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan and author of Pleasures in the Brain. – A male rat may like sex with a female rat, but less and less each time. In the end, he gets tired of sex. But when a new rat appears, his desire is awakened at the same level as in the beginning, regardless of how much sex he had with the old rat. ” In general, it turns out that most guys are rats.
The effect of Coolidge is not just a sexual phenomenon. In 2009, during research using chocolate milk and potato chips, Dutch researchers proved: the fading of desire can almost suddenly happen with some tastes – salty, sweet, sour, and so on. It is not surprising that we look for buffets and tastings. It’s the same with sex: if we don’t have enough variety in sex, we find it in food.
The hero of the occasion is the neurotransmitter dopamine, a powerful stimulator responsible for several things: while the recognition system for a pleasant stimulus makes us feel attracted, dopamine causes us to suffer when we don’t receive it, and creates a desire to satisfy the need in any way. When you want to fuck a girl or climb a beer in the fridge, it’s all dopamine. It was he who, by the way, makes drug addicts kill.
Desire can flash in the brain like the light of a spotlight, because from the point of view of evolution, desires were of fundamental importance for survival. Fortunately, evolution has developed a backup system that would allow people to survive in those times. In nature, the opioid and dopaminergic systems rarely work alone, they work together to create a circle of brain zones that reward you for achieving goals.
“The desire for anything — sex, food, a sports car — activates the same neural areas in the brain,” said Dr. Marcy Pelcha of the Monell’s Chemical Perceptions Research Center in Philadelphia, which studies the chemical composition of desires. “The brain can even create a craving for food that no one would like.” Turn on one part of the brain – and the other will immediately turn on, creating a vicious circle of desire. “That’s why you can’t eat just one chip,” says Dr. Barry Komisaruk, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University and co-author of The Science of Orgasm. – You eat the first one because you like chips. But the desire system is launched, and now you have already received the entire disgusting package. ”
Snacks and orgasms
We asked 8,000 men and women to compare food and sex. Here is how they responded:
1. I would choose a life full of great sex instead of a life full of great food. Male: 59%, Female: 58%
2. I better control appetite than libido Male: 54%, Female: 31%
3. Great food turns me on Male: 45%, Female: 55%
4. It excites me if they cook for me Male: 83%, Female: 96%
5. I’m excited to cook with a partner Male: 68%, Female: 83%
6. I believe that ingenuity in food means ingenuity in the bedroom Male: 66%, Female: 70%
7. I brought food to the bedroom (or I would like to) Male: 80%, Female: 84%
Why do you need to spread it with whipped cream
“Cooking is like sex. It is necessary to make people nice. It’s not too early to finish” Gordon Ramsey
“I’m all yours! – writes Eden, a British girl, who is 21 years old. I posted it on FetLife.com, a site for taste fetishists with Facebook features. – There are links to my pictures, if you like this. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I enjoy reading, snowboarding, motorbikes and dancing around the pole. And, of course, sploshing. ”
Sploshing – it’s a fetish. Sploshing lovers smear each other with food during sex. Most members of FetLife, frankly, do not cause salivation.
Eden, on the other hand, is a juicy, red-headed phoenix with a pigtail rising from a pile of food in photographs, a syrupy diamond in the mud. I wrote to her not to admire her photos or to offer options for pudding suspensions for new shootings, but in order to demonstrate a new part of human nature that is not yet fully open.
When mating, the parrots regurgitate food in the mouth of their females, while African elephants conquer females, bringing them branches and fruit. (“Do you need anything from the forest? I’m running out of branches here.”) Chimpanzees bring sugarcane to females before mating. And George Costanza at Sainfield eats a whole pastrami sandwich during sex with a girl. Billions of years of evolution: who needs roses?
This connection is governed by the frontal lobes, in which the planning and training centers are located directly above the eyes — in fact, the central nervous processors of the brain. Thanks to the frontal lobes, people add one more motor to the locomotive of desire.
Eden describes his first splashing experience: “We were smeared with custard and whipped pudding. I was wearing a white T-shirt, a little black skirt, heels and black tights. I was somehow embarrassed when I began to spread the mixture on the chest, I did not know if I did the right thing and what the sensations should be. But when I took off my T-shirt and began to slur over my skin, my eyes glittered. ”
“A person’s cognitive abilities process and amplify impulses, including those associated with pleasure,” explains Berridge. – In other words, if you believe that organically grown eggs taste better than regular eggs, they will taste better. Frontal shares so equip all. They can make you react to an imaginary flavor or taste. ”
When Eden doused herself with cream, it seemed terribly sexy because of her frontal lobes. They mixed two instincts: the desire for food and sex, which, in theory, have nothing to do with each other.
In fact, associative memory is one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs. Eden can’t even make a shopping list now without thinking about sex. “Sploshing is now a very sensual experience,” she tells me. “If I see a big cream cake, then an indiscreet look at my boyfriend lets him know that I’ve been thinking about him.” Oh cake, of course. And other people do not know, this is a very special kind of flirting, visible only between us. “
Of course, this does not happen in the corner of the restaurant at night on Tuesday. Already quite late, and at the table 24 have already reached the crescendo: Gianduja Panna Cotta with a salty dark chocolate sorbet. A trickle of chocolate syrup flows down the breast of a woman. Both giggle hysterically. Dinner is over, it’s dessert time, but both of them are still wildly hungry.
Myths about aphrodisias
Even the most promoted aphrodisiacs sagging limply when the bright light of science falls on them. And here is the mini-guide on the so-called libido enhancers.
Full of anandamide and phenylethylamine, two components that cause her body to release the same hormones that are released during sex and pleasure in general. Cocoa also contains methylxanthin, which sharpens its sensual sensations. A team of researchers from the United States and Canada learned that chocolate stimulates the same centers in the brain that react to cocaine, but if you eat it too much, the effect will disappear. Choose dark chocolate, not white, and limit portions.
This slippery mollusk has been extolling for centuries (in particular, Molly Bloom in the most obscene part of Ulysses was reasoning about it), but it was only in 2005 that they learned about the connection between amino acids and the hormones responsible for sexual attraction in rats. If you are not convinced, think: oysters contain a large amount of zinc, which regulates sex hormones. Critics doubt the effect that oysters can have on sex, but small portions are indeed chemically linked to better results.
Alcohol, of course, liberates. Nevertheless, studies in 2007, published in the journal “The Study of Alcohol and Other Drugs,” show that if you drink too much, the logic begins to suffer and you make the wrong decisions. Studies show that men with a blood-alcohol level of 0.8 to 1.0 per mille (two or three drinks) had a weaker erection – however, this is obvious without research. So a bottle of Malbec for two – this is the maximum, and then the matter.