Recipes for your valentine
Surprise your sweetheart with a special home-cooked meal.
Every year on February 14, the ancient Romans celebrated with a raucous pagan party known as Lupercalia that remained popular well into the fifth century AD, according to historians. Lupercalia takes its name from the word for wolf (lupus). The annual festivities included fertility rites where intoxicated, party-going men swung ropes at women made from animal skins and swabbed in blood as a display of love!
I like the more benign story that places a Roman priest by the name of Valentine at the origins of the holiday. But who was he? History tells us he lived during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius, a brutal ruler who persecuted many young people for their heartfelt affections and forbid them to get married. The rationale was based on the notion that if soldiers married, they would be so distracted worrying about their wives and children that the men’s warrior skills would be seriously lacking.
But Valentine ignored this edict and secretly performed many Christian marriage ceremonies—acts for which he was tossed into prison and martyred on February 14. Legend says that one of his last written messages sent to young couples he befriended was signed “from your Valentine.” He is remembered on February 14 when people all over the world wear their hearts on their sleeves, and give gifts of cards, flowers and chocolate to those they love.
Deciding what to do in observance of Valentine’s Day seems like a heavy-duty dilemma for many. Make reservations? That is so predictable. Why not surprise your sweetie and have a cook-in. Think about how much more romantic, personal and meaningful this will be—instead of dinner out in a crowded room packed with other diners who had the same idea as you and the same Valentine’s Day menu to choose from. Instead, have fun designing a surprise dinner at home. Set the table; add a few candles, some nice placemats, mood music and a bottle of wine. Your menu could include something red and something chocolate—two iconic symbols of Valentine’s Day.
One thing is for certain: on Valentine’s Day, the way to a man or woman’s heart is truly through a meal lovingly prepared that says “I love you” in more ways than a box of bonbons or red roses ever could.