The aphrodisiac power of some food has been known since antiquity; some of these foods were already being used in the Egyptian, Greek and Roman culture.
After all, the term “aphrodisiac” refers to Aphrodite, the Greek divinity of love, corresponding to Venus of Roman mythology.
Between myth and reality, here are some examples of Umbrian gastronomic excellence symbolizing love.
Chocolate is inextricably linked to Perugia and Luisa Spagnoli, creator of the famous “Bacio Perugina”.
According to legend, in the remote Americas, the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the so-called “feathered serpent” or “bird-serpent”, arrived on Earth with a present for the mankind, stolen from Gods: a cocoa tree. He taught humans how to grow this precious plant, to collect its fruit, and to grind its seeds in order to create an aromatic drink that can be flavoured with herbs and spices, and has extraordinary energetic as well as aphrodisiac qualities: cacahualt or tchiocolatl.
The long and fascinating history of truffles is inevitably mixed up with myth. Umbria has been a land of truffles for centuries: the ancient Umbrians used to call “tartùfro” that “scented stone” and introduced its use and knowledge to the entire peninsula.
In 1868 Gioacchino Rossini, who lived in Paris, requested quality truffles from Umbria, with a letter sent to a trader from Spoleto. He signed himself “ex music composer”.
Those truffles were sent rapidly to the author of the “Barber of Seville” and of "William Tell". The letter is kept in the museum of the Experimental Lyrical Theatre of Spoleto.
Saffron: Greek myth narrates the history of Crocos, who was mortal and fell in love with the nymph Smilace, beautiful and eternally young. Crocos was transformed into the plant of saffron and she into the sasparilla (smilax aspera).
Their cultivation, a source of pride for the Region, accompanies the history of the territory, enhancing the peculiarities of the places that grow and painstakingly produce saffron.