Of all the days in the year, Valentine’s Day is the day that has been set aside to show those dear to you that you care about them, that they are important to you. Sometimes this show of affection is outright. Other times it is hidden.
Valentines of Old
I remember one year when I was in elementary school, our teacher had set up a post office in our classroom. It was festively encased in pink and white crepe paper. Inside were post boxes for everyone in the class. Prior to the day, students carefully made valentines at home or chose them in a store. When the day finally arrived, we each went to the post office to “mail” our cards. At the end of the day, we celebrated with a party where we could go to the post office to pick up our mail. It was all so exciting for the young me.
Cooking to Show Love
Today that excitement remains but has grown into a more refined essence. This holiday arrives in the midst of cold February. It seems many are feeling the winter blues, yet here comes this day, inserting itself into the busy schedule that life brings. Today gives us the opportunity to look outward to those around us whom we hold dear. We share kindness, say we love someone, and stop what we are doing to celebrate others.
When the trees and landscapes are at their starkest, we brighten with colorful bouquets of flowers. We also receive, for this day is reciprocal. If we love, it is likely we are loved. In addition to giving, let yourself bask in the love showered on you. Just as we want to affirm, let yourself be affirmed.
Not surprisingly, I tend to cook for my loved ones on this day. Let’s start at the end. Dessert. It has to be something special. Not necessarily time consuming, just something that says, “you are the most important to me,” and “I love you”.
Because food always seems to appear in celebrations, we give chocolate. Today we indulge with chocolate mousse. Not just ordinary mousse, but the kind where I separate eggs, whip whites, add espresso, melt rich dark chocolate, and fold whipped cream into the mix. It’s that sort of mousse.
We bake decadent chocolate cake, offer chocolate-dipped ruby strawberries, serve cocoa dusted chocolate truffles. Or we lean towards a red theme, whether a gooey cranberry dessert or the always classic red velvet cake. Those who want to dine in make special meals, those who don’t go out to favorite restaurants. We write our thoughts on poignant cards, forgetting ourselves to think of our loved ones.
The Main Course
Because the temperature is dropping below the floor, the substance of our meal has to be piping hot, such as a meaty stew. Leafy greens with slivers of roasted red peppers (of course, on this day it has to be red!) tossed in a red wine vinaigrette make up the salad course. A pungent cheese and seedy crackers accompany. Lit candles and early Jazz tunes in the background complete the festivity.
We love and are loved. In and of itself, this is a gift. Know this every day of the year. Especially today on this Valentine’s Day, let us collectively pause, look to those around us, and say “thank you for being in my life.”