Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Be my love

Editing of Wikipedia’s page on St Valentine's Day has been temporarily disabled as a result of recent vandalism, but the page is still there and has these two jolly pictures which illustrate respectively the sacred and the profane aspects of 14th March.Actually the sacred aspect doesn't really amount to much since practically nothing is known about any of the three third-century martyrs called Valentine, and it was not until a thousand years later that one of them became associated with romantic love after the troubadours had invented it.
Around a billion Valentines are sent every year; 85% of them are sent by women, though I don't see how anyone knows this.
In Korea, there is a Black Day, held on April 14, when males who did not receive anything for Valentine's Day gather together to eat Jajangmyun (Chinese-style noodles in black sauce). This does not sound tremendous fun but is presumably some kind of consolation and better than moping around at home eating the glutinous rice called (no kidding, ask a Korean) yuksik.
Modern chefs apparently do not think highly of Valentine's day meals: "Every conceivable pseudo-romantic cliché... pink menus... dragging the rusting heart-shaped cutters and moulds from the smelly plastic tub under the sink where they sit neglected for the other 364 days of the year... couples so engrossed in each others' radiance that they forget to leave a tip... the staff laying bets on which customers will be the first to have an argument..."
The head chef of a two Michelin-starred restaurant agreed that "the evening can leave a nasty taste in the mouth", which is certainly not something you hope to get from a meal which has cost you as much as two flights to Paris. But perhaps he was thinking of himself and his staff and not the customers: people in the catering trade are clearly not strong on romance.
Rather than helping to line the pockets of these curmudgeons it would be better to stay at home and prepare an appropriate dinner for your inamorata(o). Don't bother with oysters—the idea that they are an aphrodisiac was later found to be a misunderstanding: it is the brown bread, butter and lemon juice that has the effect. The dinner described in my previous post would be a good choice.

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