by Wynter Holden
Lots of foods are rumored to have aphrodisiac properties. Strawberries and champagne, which I personally find more romantic then sexually stimulating. Oysters, because of course there's nothing sexier than slipping slimy, wet shellfish into your gullet. Ugh. Then there's figs, garlic, chocolate; all of which I love, but they don't exactly stoke my fire.
So when I spotted a supposed aphrodisiac drink hiding on the next-to-lowest shelf of the Caribbean foods section in Lam's Oriental & Seafood Market at 6740 W. Indian School Rd. in Phoenix, I admit I was skeptical. Very skeptical. It was labeled Irish Moss Drink, and from the brightly-colored red, yellow and green packaging, I gathered it's some kind of Rastafarian specialty. The ingredients looked harmless enough; mostly sugar, milk and water with a touch of nutmeg, "natural" flavors and some preservatives. The manufacturer, Lion of Judah, was careful in stating that the drink is only reported to have aphrodisiac properties, but hell, when you're thirtysomething and married for a half decade, sometimes you need a little boost. What's the worst that could happen?
I bought one can for a little over a buck-fifty, took it home and cracked it open. That was about the time I realized the name wasn't a misnomer. The so-called "natural" flavor was actual Irish Moss (yes, the plant!), making the drink reek like my old pet frog's terrarium. Yummy. My male drinking companion swore he only smelled the fragrant nutmeg. At this point, I'm thinking maybe this stuff is just for men. Not that most guys need any help in the sex drive department...
The thick, syrupy golden liquid reminded me of cold chicken gravy. But, I poured two shot glasses full and we each took a swig.
It was like sucking on a mossy tree. In other words, exactly like I expected it to taste. Let's face it, all the cinnamon or nutmeg or cream or whatever in the world can't mask the taste of something nurseries sell as ground cover. As for the aphrodisiac properties, after I downed my shot of Irish Moss Drink I was more inclined to vomit than to have sex. Folks in the Caribbean might swear by this stuff, but the only Irish moss I'll be buying from now on is for my garden.