With Valentine's Day just round the corner, loved up foodies across the nation are busy menu planning for one of the most important meals of the year. It's the meal that says I love you. It's the meal that says I need you. It's the meal that says, let's get the eating over with and get on to the good bit. So, how do you plan a Valentine's meal that sends out all the right messages? That's romantic, but not soppy, and guaranteed to fill you up...with desire. We turned to our authors to answer this tricky question, confident that they'd have the ingredients for seductive foodie success.
Now that we've talked to them about it, we're not quite so confident.
Tim Anderson kicks off, with a heart-warming tale of aphrodisiac eel and true love found.
"When my wife Laura and I started dating, it was late January, so when Valentine's Day rolled around we were still sort of getting to know each other. I wanted to take her out for eel – it's really not a traditional Japanese Valentine's food (they give each other chocolates, just like we do), but it is considered an aphrodisiac. So I researched the best eel places in town and was about to book somewhere, until I told my plans to a mutual friend. She pointed out that Laura doesn't even like eel. I hadn't even bothered to ask! So we spent Valentine's Day drinking champagne and beer and eating pizza instead. It was a lovely night – and just think, if I'd made the mistake of taking her out for eel, maybe I'd be single today. The moral of the story is that if you're going to do something special for Valentine's Day, make it special for the person you love – put some thought into it, and try to think of what would really make them happy."
We think there may be another moral to this story, Tim. Eel ain't got no sex app-eel. What could be truer than that?
Onto Ms Marmite Lover (supper club hostess with the mostess), who's in no mood for corny romance...
"Hollow laughter. That’s what emanated from the empty cavity in my chest where my heart used to be when I was asked to contribute a paragraph on my Valentine's seduction dishes. Because lemme tellya, the way to a man’s heart isn’t through his stomach, it’s much lower down. I’ve learnt that being a food writer and chef is not the way to get the guys, because the reality is, all that tasting, testing and scoffing means that you are not exactly pin-up material.
But when I’m into someone, the last thing I want to do is eat. In fact, being in love is the best diet - the weight just rolls off. I certainly don’t want a full stomach before sex, a margarita on the rocks is more likely to get me in the mood. Casting my memory back, my favourite apres-shag food is spaghetti al pomodoro (the French in the 16th century called a tomato a ‘love apple’, pomme d’amour, while the Arabic for tomato is ‘badurah’, apple of love). I love spag for breakfast, and tomato sauces always taste better the day after. By that time, you won’t even care if your breath smells of garlic, so will theirs. Think The Aristocats, lovingly gazing into his or her eyes, while sharing a strand of spaghetti. Sigh."
Got that, folks? Strong cocktail beforehand, plate of spaghetti after. Oh, and Disney.
Finally, we turn to Dean Edwards. MasterChef finalist and uber TV chef heart-throb. He of the twinkly eye and the cheeky grin. Surely, Dean has the potion for passion? The recipe for raunch?
"My secret for a Valentine’s day success is to make the effort. Whether you are a great home cook or if you have a hard job not to burn water, the thought and effort will be very much appreciated. Try to choose an uncomplicated recipe to follow and get as much done ahead of time as possible. Your date will not want to spend the evening occupying themselves whilst you are flapping around in the kitchen! An indulgent chocolate fondant is a failsafe dessert to get them hot under the collar, place a truffle into the middle of your fondant mix for a guaranteed runny centre. If all else fails, you could always paint your body with chocolate and enter the room biting down on a red rose..... Well, on second thoughts might be wiser to concentrate on the cooking. Ha ha."
Well, thank you Dean, Tim and Kerstin. With this advice, Happy Foodies across the nation are sure to get lucky on Valentine's night. We're off to melt some chocolate, pour a margarita and indulge in a spot of eel-dodging.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.
Dean Edwards' Mincespiration! is out now, while Tim Anderson's Nanban and Kerstin Rodgers' Ms Marmite Lover's Secret Tea Party will be out later this year.