Ancient Egyptians as early as 2,700 B.C. depicted lettuce on tomb walls as a popular sex symbol and used it extensively as an aphrodisiac.
Today, many enjoy our leafy greens as a salad, or as the comedian John Pinette says, “a promissory note that food will soon arrive.”However, ancient Egyptians as early as 2,700 B.C. depicted lettuce on tomb walls as a popular sex symbol and used it extensively as an aphrodisiac.
Lettuce was closely associated with Min, Egypt’s god of fertility, who’s often shown with an erect penis. The phallic-shaped vegetable was reported to help the god and people “perform the sexual act untiringly.”
In addition to lettuce growing in a rigid vertical line, it releases a white, milk-like residue when broken – an association with semen or breast milk.
Though lettuce was not directly eaten, Egyptians widely used it by taking off the blue-green, bitter leaves, gathering the flower buds’ seeds, and pressing the seeds into a natural lettuce oil. This oil was then used in cooking, medications, and mummification.
Later, the Romans and Greeks popularized the consumption of salad as part of a meal as we know it today. They believed it increased appetite and encouraged good digestion. Instead of the sexual stimulant Egyptians saw lettuce as, Romans and Greeks believed it could help put you to sleep.