Cum, sweat, and broccoli

(Yes, this will get into bodily fluids in ways that many people will find really icky, especially in connection with food. There will be some complicated plant stuff and some analysis of fragrances, but you’ll have to be prepared for spurts of semen and the smell of sex sweat. Use your judgment.)

I blame it all on Ryan Tamares, who posted on Facebook a few hours back on some yummy broccoli he’d had for dinner. With a photo — not a great cellphone image, but you could get a feel for the dish — and appropriate hashtags, starting with:


Oh dear, “cum in roasted broccoli”, probably not such a crowd-pleaser as the dish in the photo (though it would have a small, devoted audience). Spaces can be your friends.

Roasted broccoli. A picture — not Ryan’s, but a crisper one from the SmartHeartEats site on 1/23/17 (published under the name “Coriander-Roasted Broccoli”, but cumin is the main action):

(#1) Ingredients: 2 garlic cloves; 1 tablespoon cumin seeds; 2 teaspoons coriander seeds; kosher salt; 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; 2 heads of broccoli (1 3/4 pounds), sliced lengthwise through the stems 1/4-inch thick

Cruciferous vegetables (in the Brassicaceae family) like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale all have significant sulfur content that gives them their characteristic somewhat bitter taste — a taste that is largely eliminated by roasting and is counterbalanced by aromatic seeds of umbelliferous plants (in the Apiaceae family): cumin, caraway, coriander, fennel, celery.

A note on processing printed text. You might be thinking that reading #cumin… as starting with the word cum rather than the word cumin just shows you have a dirty mind, but that’s probably too facile an explanation.

To a large extent, in processing text we are always striving for (partial) closure, hoping to chunk off smaller meaningful bits as they appear during our scanning, so as to make the task of processing easier. (In processing whole sentences in text divided visually into words, this inclination yields the effect known as garden pathing; see the brief discussion in my 9/5/14 posting “garden pathing”.) So: cum is a word, let’s take that at face value and move on; that will net in as a separate word, and then roast, which will have to be revised to roasted, etc. You might have re-thought cum in, but unless you’re a food person of some kind (especially one knowledgeable in South and Southeast Asian cuisines), cumin is a rare word for you, not one you’d be likely to entertain. So you stick with cum in, despite (or because of) its lewdness.

Food 1. The spice cumin. Cuminum cyminumA familiar culinary ingredient: seeds that, whole or ground, give a characteristic aroma and taste to Indian food. Some discussion in my 3/20/15 posting “cumin”, with photos of the blooming plant and of the seeds:

(#2) The plant resembles Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot), to which it is closely related

(#3) And the seeds

Food 2. Black cumin. Shopping for cumin in ethnic groceries or from on-line sources is likely to lead you into confusion. First you discover that there’s something called black cumin, distinct from plain old cumin but with similar culinary uses. Then you discover that there are two things called black cumin.

There are seeds that look a lot like Cumimum seeds, with a similar smoky and earthy smell and taste, but subtler, less pungent than Cumimum; these are in the genus Bunium. And there are small roundish seeds sometimes advertised as substitutes for Bunium; these are in the genus Nigella, closely related to the ornamental flower love-in-a-mist, and are the source of a flavored oil used in South Asian cooking under the name black seedblackseed oil.

(I’ll use cumin to refer to Cumimum, black cumin to refer to Bunium, and black seed to refer to Nigella.)

From Wikipedia:

Bunium bulbocastanum is a plant species in the family Apiaceae. It is related to cumin (Cuminum cyminum) and commonly called black cumin, blackseed, black caraway, or great pignut, and has a smoky, earthy taste. It is often confused with Nigella sativa (which is also called black cumin, blackseed, and black caraway).

(#4) Black cumin seeds, looking very much like cumin seeds

(#5) The whole plant, from an old herbal; again, looking much like the cumin plant (and Queen Anne’s lace)

Dried B. bulbocastanum fruits are used as a culinary spice in northern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Iran. It is practically unknown outside these areas. The tuber-like root is locally collected for food; the “pignut” or chestnut” names refer to it.

From Wikipedia:


Nigella sativa (black caraway, also known as black cumin, nigella, and kalonji) [also fennel flower] is an annual flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae [the buttercup family], native to south and southwest Asia.

N. sativa grows to 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in) tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually colored pale blue [or] white, with five to ten petals.

The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of three to seven united follicles, each containing numerous seeds which are used as spice, sometimes as a replacement for black cumin (Bunium bulbocastanum).

(On the closely related Nigella damascena, love-in-a-mist (which we used to grow in our Columbus OH garden, because it was pretty, tough, and freely self-seeding), there’s a section in my 6/23/11 posting “More plants of love”.)

Cumin, black cumin, and black seed all have medicinal uses in herbal medicine. In particular, black seed is sometimes claimed to increase sperm quality and quantity — which now takes us back to cum in roasted broccoli.

Food, magic, and medicine. Folk medicine incorporates a variety of magical practices: a deficiency or affliction in some part of the body can be treated by consuming the corresponding body part in animals (or, in cannibalistic practices, the relevant body parts in other human beings); or, more metaphorically, by consuming a plant with a part resembling the affected part of the human body (the doctrine of signatures, treated in a number of my plant postings).

So, if you seek greater acuity of thought, by the doctrine of signatures you’re led to eat walnuts as “brain food”. Or you can absorb brain power more directly by eating the brains of calves or sheep (perhaps in brown butter).

Similarly, to treat male infertility, you might by led to garlic cloves (with their testicular shape), perhaps only in a powdered form, as therapy. Or you could absorb the masculine power of testicles more directly by eating the testicles of animals; see my 9/8/15 posting “Go for the nuts!”, with its section on testicles as foods. Or even more directly by fellating another man and swallowing his semen.

Cum in or as food. Eating semen can be viewed as a kind of folk medicine. But more often it’s viewed as a kind of folk psychology — as a way of incorporating  the psychological values of semen as the locus of masculinity, virility, adulthood, strength, power, and the like. Some notes from postings on this blog, in chronological order:

on 7/26/10 in “Notes: euphemisms 7/26/10”:

After breakfast, I worked at the computer, filing examples while watching a gay porn flick (Sweat, a “food-fuckers” scene, with three guys of remarkably similar appearance, down to the minimal buzzcuts, having enthusiastic sex with one another, most of it involving foodstuffs [including ejacuating on or in food], in the cramped and steamy restaurant kitchen where they work).

on 7/17/13 in “Gay cookbooks”:

Then there’s the specialist site Cooking With Cum, “the home of semen cuisine”, offering things like this book: [Paul Photenhauer, Semenology: The Semen Bartender’s Handbook]

on 7/19/13 in “More sexual slang”

cum play of various kinds, in particular snowballing and gokkun (illustrated in #1 and #2, respectively, in [the posting “Cum play”] on AZBlogX). The first practice was familiar to me, though I didn’t know it had a slang name, other than the transparent name cum sharing; and the second I vaguely recalled having heard about, but under the transparent name cum drinking.

on 5/22/18 in “The cumless cake”:

this is the infection point, where we shift from cakes without the P[reposition] cum on them (cumless cakes) vs. cakes with it on them and move to cakes without cum on them (massively the default for cakes) to cakes with it on them (a minority taste, to be sure, but one with devoted adherents among seminophiles)…

I’ve explored the great symbolic value of cum to gay men in a number of postings on this blog (links to these collected in a Page here). Beyond the routine act of swallowing cum in fellatio, there are many manifestations of seminophilia treated there:

coming on a partner’s body, cum feeding, cum sharing, cum drinking, watching cum shots, cum facials and other forms of bukkake, and creampies

In porn (gay or straight), the object of bukkake is sometimes referred to as a cum cake or cumcake — a play on cupcake. The idea is that the ejaculating men in bukkake are providing dollops of cream to the recipient in the event, treating the recipient like a cupcake, with the men’s cum as topping, icing, or frosting.

Actual cupcakes or larger cakes with a cum garnish or with a creamy topping of cum are sometimes depicted in porn, and maybe also composed in real life.

The cumcake / cupcake play is inviting if your mind tends to sex and sweet food together

I’m now, of course, trying to imagine how to prepare roasted broccoli with cum in it. Cum on or in sweets, easy. Cum in drinks, ok. Cum with dairy foods, sure: cream with cream. (Mac ‘n’ cheese seems to lend itself easily to seminal elaboration.) Cum on eggs, possibly; it could easily be added to the hollandaise in eggs benedict, for example, creating spermandaise sauce. It might work in general as a substitute for tofu. But sperm on broccoli spears, I don’t know.

Then there’s the question of whether the magic is most potent when the cum is visibly a component of a dish, or when it’s folded imperceptibly into it.

The scent of a spice. Finally, the scent of cumin (and black cumin) is heavily aromatic, pungent, often likened to sweat and as a result found either sexy or unpleasant — but then sweat has a wide variety of odors, and tastes in sweat differ hugely from person to person. Musky male armpits are offensive to many people, but there are gay guys who actively seek it out.

In my 3/6/17 posting “Body work, Part III: Axillary Delights”, there’s a brisk but fairly comprehensive survey about the taste and smell of sweat and about gay male sexual practices focused on sweat, in particular pit licking (there are pictures).

Meanwhile, cumin is used as a musky note in many fragrances, especially for men.

3 Responses to “Cum, sweat, and broccoli”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Where are you on the pronunciation of the u in cumin? I’m pretty sure I usually pronounce it like cum/come (and so does Peter Schickele, to judge by the duet from The Seasonings), but I’ve heard /kju/ as well.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I’m invariably a /kju/ speaker, but that’s just what I do; I have no particular normative passion for this variant. I see that NOAD and AHD both offer all of /kʌ/, /kju/, and /ku/.

      /kju/ is what you get from the spelling CUMIN, assuming the most general spelling-sound principles. /kʌ/ would correspond to the spelling CUMMIN on these principles (NOAD lists CUMMIN as an alternative spelling, in fact). /ku/ rather than /kju/ corresponding to a CU spelling seems to occur mostly in proper names (where the pronunciation comes from the original language): Xavier Cugat, Curaçao, Cupertino. (Some of these proper names — Cuba is a striking example — got a spelling pronunciation with /kju/ anyway.)

      • Robert Coren Says:

        Hmm… I think I at least sometimes have /kju/ in “Curaçao” (maybe only when I’m talking about the liqueur).

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