Intercourses: Why I Wrote an Aphrodisiac Cookbook
My name is Martha Hopkins, and I want to share with you why I wrote an aphrodisiac cookbook.
It grew out of a once-in-a-lifetime relationship where we cooked together every night, tantalizing one another with linguine and clam sauce, slurping noodles/each other with wild abandon, recording each recipe of our love.
In fact, I wrote it because my life was a total shit-show, and writing it seemed like an excellent alternative to the tale that was playing out in my real world.
The year was 1995, and it had not been good to me. I had graduated college with honors a few years prior, but the only jobs I could get were temping, substitute teaching, and working in the moderates section of Dillard’s. (What is the moderates section of Dillard’s, you ask? It’s the department that carries mock turtlenecks.) When I finally landed my first “real,” job, I got fired after the first day. I was in love with someone who didn’t love me back. I majored in French but was too scared to move to France by myself. My Hitachi wand made my parents’ TV fill with static. Life was seeming more pathetic by the day.
Enter Randall. Nope, this is still not where the linguine with clam sauce comes in. Today, Randall is my business partner of 17 years. Family, really. But in 1995, he was merely my best friend—the guy who had lived in the apartment below me through much of college—and I suppose he simply got sick of hearing about my sorry state of affairs. One night on the phone, he suggested we start a company.
How about a publishing company, he said.
Had he suggested we start a roving RV bed-and-breakfast for Japanese tourists, I probably would have said yes as well. (In fact, he did suggest this. I said no, but thought you’d appreciate some insight into the way his mind works.)
All to say, Randall’s the dreamer. I’m the doer. He suggested starting a company, and I was game. What did I have to lose? Commission on another $12 mock turtleneck? Exactly.
So there we were—him in Texas, me in Memphis—with a scheme to start publishing and get a life, as it were. “Write what you know,” they say. But when we went through the list of everything we knew, we came up short.
Plan B: If you can’t write about what you know, then you might as well write about what you want to know, right?
Food + Sex. That’s what we decided. And that started the late-nights and polaroids and endless cooking that became InterCourses.
I love this book and the life that it’s given me and the fact that tonight, at the ripe age of 42, I cooked dinner tonight for a man I love dearly, who is now sleeping beside me as I type this on my laptop. I wrote this book not because I believed in aphrodisiacs (I didn’t) but because I needed to create a life worth living that didn’t require moving to France or landing my dream job or making a gazillion dollars. One of the richest components of daily living can be the simple intersection of food and passion and pleasure. A life worth living, it turns out, can be found in a cup of hot steamy chocolate. Freshly shaved fennel and Parmesan. Apple butter. As long as its shared.
I’m looking forward to sharing some of the recipes where food and pleasure have overlapped for me—and other couples—in the posts to come. First up? That linguine with clam sauce.
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What food puts you in the mood? we would LOVE to hear from you.