It’s Valentines Day and the greetings card industry celebrates another milestone before the the long Summer drought. Florists bring out the special pricing which is only matched by Mothers Day. Whoever made the red rose the symbol of any festival in February? It’s a miracle that they survive the journey from Africa intact.
You could be in danger of seeing Valentines Day as an entirely commercial venture. We don’t really need a date set aside to show our love. Given its in the calendar, and we have expectant or hopeful partners to cosset, what role can food play in making the day special?
There are dishes which are a card in food form for starters. MicroGalactic’s red velvet pancakes would grace any Valentine table. Red does seem to be the theme. While strawberries definitely do fit the bill rhubarb doesn’t quite have the same impact except in a vaguely Carry On way.
The spirit of romance suggests aphrodisiacs. There have been claims fuelled by marketeers for most produce over the years. The ones which have some recurrence are those evoking genitalia and the luxury products. You can decide for yourself which category each fall into and there is no doubt some overlap amongst them. The claim of aphrodisiac qualities is an old ruse performed by apothecaries for centuries but many of them were so vile and contrived they are unlikely to feature on any dinner table. Some would argue that the oyster should still be in that category but personally I’m a fan.
The luxury end of the market is all about pampering. A box of chocolates, some champagne, foie gras and caviar are special treats which say “you’re worth it” more than most.
I believe that food is a demonstration of love. Anything home prepared with care hits the mark. Better still you can show it every day rather than just once a year. Since Valentines is meant to be a day of mutual expression of love how about cooking a meal together – it doesn’t happen often enough.
And me? I took the route of demonstrating my love by buying a dine in for £20 from Marks and Spencer’s which we had last night as we are going out with friends on Valentine’s night. It shows my love because it is something I don’t like doing but my wife is a big M&S fan. We started with a very good scallops on crushed peas served on a scallop shell with a mint oil dressing. The queen scallops were nice and sweet and the crush peas still has some texture – a good light starter. The main was Spanish marinated chicken served with patatas bravas and garlic aioli – only romantic is shared by the two lovers. This is somewhat more romantic than the chicken and leek pie option which appeared very underselected. It was a bit of a calorie-fest but nice enough. We had the layered greens as a side dish which were fresh and clean tasting. For dessert, some time later, we ate salted caramel brownie slice which I found just way too sweet and with no discernible brownie element to it. With an average Rioja and some heart shaped chocolates I thought it was good value for £20.
And my wife? I love her every day of the year and what we have for dinner makes no difference to how I feel.