Ever careful to safeguard his powerful libido, the average Jamaican man couldn’t live without gallons of potions concocted to supplement the diet and ensure health and sexual stamina. With self-explanatory names such as tan-pon-it-long or front-end lifter, these vitamin and mineral-rich drinks often include peanuts, oats and Irish moss, a seaweed boiled and strained into a glutinous milky-white potion and which serves as the main component of the ubiquitous magnum (Irish moss and linseed), strong back (Irish moss, oats, peanuts, paw-paw, Dragon stout and a decoction of the strong-back herb) and pep-up (Irish moss, Dragon stout, Red Label wine and liquefied green corn). Most people have their own favourite blend with a suitably libidinous name to match.
Another popular tonic is roots wine, now commercially produced and sold in shops and bars islandwide – look out for Zion’s Bedroom Bully, Ital Jockey and Mandingo varieties, as well as the Baba Roots brand. Roots wine is classically made by Rastafarian herbalists, however, who mix various quantities of roots and herbs such as arrowroot, chainy root, bridal wisp, strong back and occasionally ganja, boiling them with molasses or honey to make an evil-smelling brew. Most people have their own recipes, but as preparation is time-consuming, many prefer to visit their favourite “juice man”, who sells old rum bottles full of the stuff in most markets.
Most recently, and rather oddly, it’s the Lion Fish that has caught the attention of men trying to improve their prowess. An invasive specie introduced by chance to the Caribbean waters, it has no natural predators (regionally) except humans which makes the fact that it is a voracious breeder and eater – threatening reef life – a point of serious national concern. In an effort to curb its growth rate the government has set up campaigns and competitions for who can shoot the most (its poisonous barbs means it can only be killed by spear-gun), claiming half seriously that eating it fried, steamed or grilled, will, well, make you more of a lion.