The Flavours of Romance
Sharing a meal with a loved one is an intimate gesture any time of the year, making Valentine’s Day the perfect occasion to pull out all the stops. After all, why would you go out to a crowded restaurant when you can create an ultra-romantic meal for two in the comfort of your own home? The foods mentioned below have historically been used for their purported aphrodisiacal powers. While these amorous claims might not be based in actual science, the fact that you’ve made the effort to prepare a memorable meal for your loved one is definitely enough to spark some serious romance.
Chocolate has undoubtedly become the official food of love on Valentine’s Day. There are entire grocery store aisles dedicated to heart-shaped chocolates in January and February. But what is it about chocolate that has made it the food of romance? Chocolate contains the chemicals anandamide and phenylethylamine, both of which are responsible for boosting serotonin levels (a hormone that contributes to your overall sense of well-being and happiness). It’s unclear how much chocolate you’d have to eat for it to have a definite effect on your mood, but the act of eating chocolate in and of itself is pleasurable. Instead of mindlessly eating sub-par chocolate indulge by purchasing the best chocolate you can afford and in smaller amounts. Your partner will appreciate the effort and so will you; after all, self-love is also very important!
Lobster is traditionally reserved for special occasions and what better time to celebrate than on Valentine’s Day! If you’re worried about cooking live lobsters at home, your local fishmonger should stock frozen lobster tails and claws. Lobster can be served with melted butter, in a bisque or with steak for a homemade riff on the classic surf and turf combination. Don’t have a local source for lobster? Many companies offer both live and frozen lobster delivery, just make sure to order sooner rather than close to the date.
Figs have a long history of being nature’s sexiest fruit thanks to their suggestive shape. Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover up after eating the forbidden fruit and Cleopatra loved them so much she used a basket of figs to hide the asp that would eventually kill her. Nutritionally, figs are full of fibre, antioxidants, and potassium. Fresh figs can be added to cheese plates or quartered and then poached in a light syrup (add a small amount of rose water for instant exotic flavour). Since fresh figs can be expensive and difficult to come by in February, dried figs can be an equally delicious option. Dried figs can be used in savoury braises for lamb, pork, and duck or in Middle Eastern-inspired pilafs and stews.
Whether eaten alone, dipped in chocolate or topping your favourite dessert, ruby red strawberries are a romantic and perfectly sweet example of classic Valentine’s Day fare. In Canada, it can be difficult to find super-sweet fresh strawberries in February (this isn’t as important if the berries are being dipped in chocolate). For desserts where the shape of the strawberry isn’t as important as the taste use frozen strawberries which have been picked at the peak of their ripeness. For jammy cake fillings or sauces, roast fresh strawberries that have been sprinkled with a small amount of white sugar in a moderate oven for 20-30 minutes, the sugars will caramelize and the strawberries will develop a deeply sweet flavour.