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I Ate Myself Horny at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark

At Denmark's most famous music festival, I sat down to a four-course aphrodisiac dinner that promised to stir my animal urges with crispy balls of blood pudding, “hay milk” cheese, and a hell of a lot of booze.

Lars Eriksen

Photos by Martin Kaufmann

La Grande Bouffe is the greatest movie ever made about food. Nowhere else has food looked so glorious as in this bacchanal orgy of gastronomy, sex, bourgeois angst, and gluttony. I mean, who wouldn't want to end their days being force-fed pâté while getting tossed off by a buxom school teacher and flatulating oneself into a heart attack?

I, however, normally find the relationship between food and sex a turn-off. We are sold the idea that ingredients such as chocolate are conducive to romance and boosting our sexual urges, but there is nothing more distressing than the sight of an awkward Valentine's couple sitting in a sea of tacky red balloons and losing their dignity and libido over a plate of oysters with champagne. An oozing chocolate fondant is not a fountain of lust—it's a catalyst for bloated regret. And watching Nigella Lawson licking a custard spoon clean is about as arousing as a PBS documentary on famine.

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Festival guests do their own cooking at the FoodJam stall by the camp site.

So it was with some trepidation that I went to this year's Roskilde music festival in Denmark and signed up for a dinner called "Potent Pop-Up." It promised four courses made with aphrodisiac ingredients, and the three women who were cooking for us said it would fit their "potent dogma."

Roskilde is Denmark's biggest music festival and has been a fixture on the European scene for more than 40 years. This year's headliners included the Rolling Stones and Outkast. But the festival has started to take its food offerings as seriously as its music programming. While many festivals happily flog conveyor-belt junk to indiscriminate revelers, Roskilde has set ambitious organic targets for its food stalls. It recycles excess ingredients and turns this into meals for local shelters, and it hosts a series of dining events that bring culinary relief to a urine-soaked festival site.

Near the camping area, people gathered around fully-functioning makeshift kitchens, paid 50kr ($9) each, picked ingredients from a table brimming with fresh fish and vegetables, and cooked their own meals. It all sounds unbearably civilized, but the food events at Roskilde was brilliant tasty fun. And it's not that all Danish youth are saintly goody two-shoes who are more into shucking oysters than popping molly—they are as debauched as the next lot—but when you have lived on tinned tuna and lukewarm vodka for five days, a cooked meal made from decent produce is like a juice cleanse for the soul.

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C-vitamin orgy: Citrus-glazed carrots and licorice.
Carry On

But back to the aphrodisiacs: The 60-odd people with tickets for the event gathered at a long table in an old stable in the middle of the festival site. First up were crispy balls of blood pudding, dehydrated beets with buttermilk foam, and salted quail eggs marinated in mustard and Tabasco. "These are all things that should get you going potency-wise," our hostesses told us. Alongside the snacks were whiskey sours topped with Belgian-style lambic beer to add some sourness, followed by shots of schnapps. If they weren't going to get us saucy, they sure as hell were going to get us sauced.

The girls had joined forces with Danish craft beer makers To Øl, who supplied the drinks and helped host the event. The first bottle poured was called Liquid Confidence, a rich, smoky stout made with three types of chili (chipotle, ancho and guajillo), aged in sherry barrels and packing a healthy 12.2 percent ABV. "This beer has so much confidence that it can match your oysters," said Tobias Emil Jensen, who is one half of To Øl. The oysters were served with blueberries, crushed hazelnut and spinach oil. After a few swigs of the confident stout, we all got our kit off and started reenacting the family act from the Aristocrats joke.

Well, not quite, but we indulged in nuclear-strength booze and were served more naughty innuendo than a film, so the mood was getting understandably merry. "Remember to drink!" shouted Tobias as the next serving of citrus-glazed carrots and licorice arrived on the table. It was a vitamin C orgy, the chefs told us, with the sticky flecks of licorice acting as a dip for the crunchy carrots.

As we got to the main course—porter-marinated flank steak with Danish "hay milk" cheese and beach herbs, including wasabi-like beach mustard—the two girls next to me were busy applying pink glitter to each other's faces. They had bought their dinner tickets at the campsite and planned their food itinerary around the concerts they didn't care for. (The aphrodisiac feast took precedence over Manu Chao and Kelela.) "Last year we went to a tea party here in the stables," one of them said. "We were in a complete sugar rush. The table was laid out with Royal Copenhagen tableware, there were cucumber sandwiches and macaroons, and three types of cakes."

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Going Gaga with fingers and flank steak.
Stiv Pik og Bajere

The guy sitting next to them waved off the girls' advances when they tried to apply glitter to his cheeks. Instead he grabbed a piece of deep-red, rare steak and pierced it with his thumb like a miniature Gaga meat dress for his finger. It was a poignant if not-so-subtle tribute to the evening's theme. The brewer, Tobias, who was now swinging by the arms from a beam underneath the stables roof, introduced the next beer. It was a barley wine called Mine Is Bigger Than Yours.

In the kitchen, the three chefs took a quick break to down triple measures of Fernet Branca. Why the hell had they picked potency as a theme? "I think we were drunk," said Taja Von Schlebaum-Baun. "It was an idea I had contemplated for a while. I actually wanted to call it ("hard dicks and brews"). We liked the aphrodisiacs theme because there are so many tall tales about the subject, such as the 18th-century lover Casanova feasting on oysters every morning."

The meal was scheduled to last 90 minutes but, as befits a good orgy, we pretty much doubled the running time. The final dish was strawberries and chocolate covered with an airy blob of cardamom-spiced almond milk foam. It was a suitable climax to the dinner, and it was washed down with a creamy vodka-vanilla rhubarb juice. At the end of the table, a group of girls celebrating their friend's birthday got the rest of the crowd to join them in a traditional Danish birthday song where we all played along on virtual instruments and genitalia.

This wasn't quite Le Grande Bouffe. Nobody's bowels exploded and any sexual advances were confined to the food on the plates. I was none the wiser as to the potency of aphrodisiac ingredients—the stupendous beers and cocktails had rendered me an impotent, drunken fool—but I enjoyed every bite and every drop of a unique meal served up with equal measures of perverted humor and brilliant cooking. And it had all taken place in the middle of a musical festival.

I'll pick chili stout and beach herbs over Manu Chao any day.