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Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  5,459 ratings  ·  370 reviews
New York Times bestselling author of The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende celebrates the pleasures of the sensual life in this rich, joyful and slyly humorous book, a combination of personal narrative and treasury of erotic lore. Under the aegis of the Goddess of Love, Isabel Allende uses her storytelling skills brilliantly in Aphrodite to evoke the delights of food an ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 7th 1999 by HarperVia (first published December 29th 1997)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  5,459 ratings  ·  370 reviews

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Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: foodies, nymphomaniacs, people who like their English prose translated from Spanish
If you're looking for an aphrodisiac manual, a Vegas wedding chapel for your inner Britney Spears, look somewhere else. As some reviewers have pointed out, almost every food item on the planet is considered to have erotic connotations to Allende, be they visual, olfactory or legendary, she can make it seem sexy.

This is because it's not a serious attempt to prove or disprove aphrodisiac qualities of food, it is, as the title states, a memoir of the senses, a scrapbook of sensuality, and Allende c
Jul 19, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no-one
I tried to read this because it came recommeded from a friend with impeccable taste. Yeah, not so mcuh with this.

It tried to hard to be sexy in a Nigella Lawson way, and just came off like a desperate middle aged, sex starved housewife. While this may be the demographic they're going for it just sat all wrong with me. It felt a bit like buying sexy knickers with your mum.
Apr 03, 2009 added it
i don't think this was the allende book i should have read first when i decided i wanted to explore latin american literature and magical realism in particular. i love the concept of food/sensuality/feminine/spice and enjoy other books on the topic.

however, the book did not quite translate into what i expected.

for example, there is a description comparing a lover's kiss to a 'mussel inserted in your mouth' which reminded me of the worst kissers in my life (thus far & hopefully ever) - zooming in
Joana Augusto
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Isabell Allende is my favorite writer. This is the one book of hers I haven't tried reading because I thought it was just a cookbook. An aphrodisiac cookbook, but still...

It's actually a really good essay on what are aphrodisiacs, and how they are viewed in different times, and even in different cultures.

Also, her amazing writing is still very obvious, even if it's not in magic realism form. She's as witty and sarcastic as ever.

I haven't gone through all the recipes yet, but there's some I want
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was a strange book. Fascinating at times, dull at others, and occasionally plain puzzling (as in, where IS she going with this?). The best way to sum it up is a medley of anecdotes, myths, and personal experiences all regarding food and its role in love, romance, and decidedly kinkier ventures. Aphrodisiacs, if you will. I did love Allende's sauciness and odd split personality--very accepting of people's oddities on one hand, and slyly judgmental on the other hand.

By the time I got through
Maria Velkova
Mar 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Gosh, it is slow to read this book... it definitely requires a particulate mood, which I don't possess at all times. ...more
Jack Terlap
Jul 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was looking for something nonfiction to read and this was the perfect book to break my fiction streak. Really interesting information and full of beautifully written anecdotes.
Carrie Honaker
Hot. That is the only word I can think of to describe this novel. It defintely has the Allende flavor of magical realism and picturesque description. I picked it up thinking it was a food memoir, but it is more of an exploration of the connection between food, sex and love. The recipes are her grandmothers'and you can feel the familial connection in the pages. The chapter describing the advice to her stepson on dating was downright funny and quite erotic. I liked the book, but it is not my favor ...more
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spiritual, cookbook
If you don't want to get horny - read this book. Especially the parts about aphrodisiac cruelty. Why would someone put it in such a book? Also the tale about parents' orgy I found distasteful. My parent would definitely be displeased if I wrote something like that about them. Generally, I felt like reading about a woman who is chasing something she doesn't have. If it weren't for funny anecdotes, I could never finish this book. ...more
Eve Dangerfield
Nov 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece I read in the bath bit by delicious bit. Funny and warm and lovely.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Isabel Allende is a deliciously entertaining, no-bullshit writer and cook. After reading this memoir, I want not only to read her other works, but to cook a 5-course dinner with her (aphrodisiac-centered, of course).
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in Spanish. Allende says in the intro that she began to dream of food as a healing process after her daughter's death. The book is like reading essays on food and its relation to love, romance, and passion. It is beautifully illustrated, witty, and very sensual. At the end of the book, I imagine one would be tempted to try some of her recipes in a sexy atmosphere, rich in flavors, aromas, and sensual seduction. I highly recommend this book only to people who like spicy food and ...more
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not for me. Read this as part of my reading women challenge - book about food and a book by Isabel Allende - but kind of thought it wouldn’t be my scene then was pleasantly surprised at how easy a read it was for first 50 or so pages. After that I found the repetitive, listed tongue in cheek jokes about orgies got really tiresome and I had to force myself to read to the recipe section (about 220 pages in)
Ismaa Khan
Isabel Allende is one of my most favorite writers. She is witty, sarcastic, wise and funny, her words are eloquent, her stories memorable.

Aphrodite was the first book I ever read by her and it was bought as a special treat for me many years ago, and now re-reading it I feel vilified that it was money well spent. After this book I was determined to find her other books and have become a great fan of her novels.

This particular book is nonfiction, a memoir of aphrodisiac foods, or the connection
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
Under the aegis of the Goddess of Love, Isabel Allende uses her storytelling skills brilliantly in Aphrodite to evoke the delights of food and sex. After considerable research and study, she has become an authority on aphrodisiacs, which include everything from food and drink to stories and, of course, love. Readers will find here recipes from Allende's mother, poems, stories from ancient and foreign literatures, paintings, personal anecdotes, fascinating tidbits on the sensual art of food and i ...more
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010-reads
Should be read in bed aloud to one's lover as s/he applies the whipped cream. Allende brings her own special brand of magical realism to this catalogue of aphrodisiacs and erotic lore, interspersing recipes and historical trivia with stories of love and sex from her life and the lives of the famous lovers of the past. Less prurient than passionate, even the book itself is a sensuous experience, printed as it is on heavy paper and lushly illustrated. To be sampled, savored, or devoured, as the m ...more
Emily Peck
Jan 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a very seductive book. As a combintion of cook book, food history book, and dictionary of adphrodisiacs; this book serves as a very informative and useful tool in many areas of our lives ( if you catch my drift). It is also very beautifully written and has lovely artwork within it. I have used this book as research for school as well as for my personal ventures and have never regretted purchasing it. If the sensualty of food is important to your pallete then this book is a must.
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Delicious, sensual, funny and well researched read! One to dip in every now and then just for fun and inspiration to concoct that special meal to seduce an object of desire... :-)
Great cookbook too!
Karen Wellsbury
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
A combination of an essay on the eroticism of food, and a cookery book.
The essay is beautifully written and the writing sensual, reflecting both Allende's style and the subject matter.
The recipes are a bit hit and miss frankly.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an awesome woman is Isabel Allende: witty, sensual and she takes live not too seriously and is not affraid to admit it. This book reads as a warm bath and gives a lot of good ideas if I ever want to seduce someone again.
Bobbi Miller
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting compilation of stories about aphrodisiacs and related topics.
Kira McGann
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very sensual reading.
Suanne Laqueur
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved every delicious word. A real treat.
Yuetong Zhong
In China, there is a saying:the desire of food and sex is a part of human nature from Mencius. When I was reading this book, I indeed enjoyed those particular foods in the name of love. However, this book does not merely teach readers how to make love philters but also impart history and the most important thing is the sacrifice of women behind those coveted foods. Because in the past, people intended to have more children so as to expand the whole family, and those foods could stimulate men and ...more
I didn't really store much of this in my memory, as is occasionally the case with an audiobook. But also the main purpose of especially the audio version for me was to just let it wash over me in the moments I was listening to it, as a series of individual menus and anecdotes.

Two things I've learned: aphrodisiac effect of food is mostly due to its external features (its look, texture, colour, scent, etc), more so than any effect it may cause after ingesting it (again, beyond leaving a scent on
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Aphrodite is the bible of all things aphrodisiac. Focused on good food and good sex, Allende's prose is equal parts mouthwatering and titillating. Allende is proof that women over 50 are not dried-up sexless creatures, and a life spent denying oneself physical pleasure (be it sex or rich chocolate cake) isn't worth living.

This book made me throw on a négligé and cook one of its sinful recipes, which my lover and I would proceed to hand-feed to each other while lounging on a dark red velvet chai
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
A book about sensuality really shouldn't be this dull, but it is (sorry Isabel). Ostensibly, the book is about romance, atmosphere and food as preludes to love-making but human beings know this stuff, unless stymied by an unusual sensory deprivation, and this book adds little to the canon. I get the impression Allende realised her material for the book was a bit thin and has used her considerable skill as a writer to pad it out but it hasn't been enough to rescue the book. And the recipes aren't ...more
Laura Alice Watt
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
this voluptuous book I've been reading in little bites, as it's much too rich to read all in one sitting. Allende explores the age-old connections between food and sensuality, including many recipes (I haven't tried any yet, but will if a good opportunity arises!). The best part of this volume is the illustrations, especially the numerous paintings by Martin Maddox and George Tooker, which add a kind of glow to the delicious pages. (1/00) ...more
Emilia Sur
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book where you are are just as right in recommending with "bon appetit!" as you would with "enjoy the read!"
A fun and light book to read from an author that just seems to love to sink her teeth in delicacies as much as she loves to create stories. Her joy of palate is infectious and she has a knack to dress her stories with the same zest she puts into dressing her dishes her own way.
Very relaxing and certain recipes I will certainly try out!
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is so fun and creative. It is a combination cook-book and story telling of seduction and how to achieve it. Allende does not shy away at all from talking about how to indulge in the sensuality/sexuality of food, drink and one's partner with the result that it certainly revs the imagination. ...more
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Isabel Allende Llona is a Chilean-American novelist. Allende, who writes in the "magic realism" tradition, is considered one of the first successful women novelists in Latin America. She has written novels based in part on her own experiences, often focusing on the experiences of women, weaving myth and realism together. She has lectured and done extensive book tours and has taught literature at s ...more

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