Cranberries are said to be aphrodisiacs--but are they really? Likely, their reputation is based on the heavyweight health benefits of these mightly little fruits rather than their power as an actual love potion.
Cranberries contain large amounts of Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and improves the function of various glands necessary for amatory activities. Additionally, cranberries deliver a robust shot of Vitamin A, which is essential for healthy circulation. If the blood isn't flowing properly, well..neither is the lovin'.
Native Americans, and later Pilgrim settlers extolled the health benefits of this mighty fruit. In particular, Native Americans utilized the berries to combat infections of the urinary and reproductive systems. Whether the consumption of these tart little berries warmed the hearts and parts of the likes of Squanto, Miles Standish, and Priscilla Alden is unclear, but they remain a crucial part of traditional holiday meals, so anything is possible.
And no discussion of love and cranberries would be complete without a mention of the bitterness of each; unrequited love is about as bitter as fresh cranberries--trust me on this one; I tasted one yesterday for research purposes and a serious pucker ensued. (No immaculate conception ala Marjetta, though; at least I hope not.) The Cranberries do a great job describing the bitterness of love's sad end with their hit Linger...
To buy the freshest, brightest, shiniest cranberries for your feast, stop by Iovines, OK Lee, Fair Food Farmstand, or any one of the Market's produce merchants. If you're a baker, then dried cranberries are stocked by The Spice Terminal. If you're not a baker then look out for cranberry muffins and other treats at the Market's fabulous bakeries. We are partial to the cranberry scones at Metropolitan, but we've never met a baked good we didn't like, especially as prepared by one of the skilled artisans at Reading Terminal Market. Deeeee-lish.