So tell me the truth. Do the words "Valentine's Day" cause your stomach to turn, do visions of saccharin cards and stale chocolates come to mind, do you dread the relationship talks brought on by the sight of people around you buying shit in silly bows? Ive had more than one relationship suddenly break off a day or two before Valentines and take up again a couple days after. Why is a Hallmark holiday so difficult? I say its just not worth stressing over and putting pressure on yourself or your lover. Instead try taking your mind off the holiday stigmas and explore the other side of it. Valentines is a great excuse to celebrate the sensual life. Whether you're single or attached, cut yourself some slack and indulge your sensual self. Here are some suggestions for taking this opportunity to have fun, and make a Valentine's dinner to remember.
Food is one of my favorite ways to start off an indulgent evening, and sometimes it even becomes the whole evening. I recently became fascinated with aphrodisiacs and decided to use them to create a loaded Love Feast. I figured I could sneak a little somethin' somethin' into the food, like powdered yohimbe - a crystal alkaloid derived from the yohimbe tree found in Central Africa, or cantharides - broken dried remains of the blister beetle, both recognized as sexual stimulants by modern medicine (I'm leaving Viagara out of this). But apparently, those substances are effective only in toxic doses. In fact, a lot of the exotic love potion powders are dangerously toxic, so no licking toads or spiking the soup with a love potion. We need less hazardous ingredients.
There are different theories of what makes an aphrodisiac. The Encyclopedia Brittanica classifies aphrodisiacs into two principal groups: psychophysiological (visual, tactile, olfactory, aural) and internal (stemming from food, alcohol and other drugs, medicine etc). Obviously, if a food is shaped like genitalia or feels sexy, it's known as an aphrodisiac--how many boner flicks have you seen with a girl eating a banana or popsicle? If something stimulates your system or lowers your inhibitions, like caffeine, alcohol or weed, it's an aphrodisiac. (But don't quote me, I'm not saying drug your date.) Some say anything can be an aphrodisiac because setting the right mood is all you need. For the Love Feast, I choose to apply all of the above.
Creating a Love Feast is easier than it sounds. Most foods reported to have aphrodisiac qualities are common foods that are rich in minerals such as zinc and iron that boost your system, or have fiery natures to stimulate the body like pepper or garlic. Mineral rich seafood, oysters, lobster, and fish are considered aphrodisiacs. Horseradish, garlic, pine nuts, asparagus (for men mostly, for some reason its a diuretic for women), nutmeg, cardamon, ginger, walnuts, mangoes are also on the list. Of course, chocolate is in a class by itself as the ultimate love infusion. And I swear that steak and foie gras works wonders.
I incorporated many of these ingredients into the menu choices below. The key to creating a Love Feast is to orchestrate together fresh, low-starch foods. You don't want to be in a food coma after the meal for obvious reasons. Instead, you want to keep the stimulation going in elongated peaks and valleys. Look for flavors that compliment and enhance each other so you can savor each bite, lingering on the fresh and complex flavors. Choose your produce and meats very carefully. They must be absolutely fresh in order to retain their best aphrodisiac qualities.
Pick and choose, or if you're really ambitious, try them all and invite another couple for dinner.