Foods That Inspire Love
–Rock song performed by The Troggs, 1967
In spite of the difficult world we live in, love is all around us, and we see it demonstrated every day, sometimes in the most unlikely scenarios. We observe it in overheard sound bites of passersby, sense it in random glances, and sometimes see it fully revealed at our work and in our homes.
Yes, it is the season of Valentine’s Day and yes, it is a Hallmark holiday that we all observe, willingly or not, and no, it is often not the favorite day of the male of the species (the pressure, the pressure!)
But there it is.
No, we are so not going to go there.
Food is, of course, something we all require to survive and, as psychological studies have shown, so is love.
Many people show their love by the preparation of food. For some people, words and gestures are difficult and the presentation of specially-prepared meals becomes the finest expression of their feeling. Love is the attitude you put into the meal and that feeling carries over to the table. Meals that are rushed, and prepared with the anxiety of obligation rarely taste as wonderful as those made with time, sensitivity and thoughtfulness.
Any dish made with thought, time and care is a food of devotion, but undeniably, there are certain foods that are considered foods of love. It is no coincidence that they are often soft, creamy foods that remind us of the warmth of our mommies. By popular definition, the primary demographic group that shows love by genetics, culture or disposition with food, is mothers.
Those of us of a certain age remember the weekly meals Mom prepared:
- - Fried chicken
- - Pot Roast
- - Meat Loaf
- - Spaghetti and meatballs
- - Stuffed cabbage rolls
- - Beef stew and cornbread muffins
As we all know, biology doesn’t figure into the maternal instinct in the least. Any father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent or neighbor can lovingly feed a Scout troop, soccer team, classroom party or sleepover gang with the following:
- - Homemade mac & cheese
- - Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup
- - French toast with grated orange peel & real maple syrup
- - Heart-shaped pancakes
- - Waffles dusted with cinnamon/sugar and topped with whipped cream
- - Double pepperoni pizza (delivered, pluheeze!)
Parental figures aren’t the only group that demonstrates their affection through food. Other social groups are well represented:
- - Dating couples (What you can expect if you consider marrying me)
- - Engaged couples (What you can expect regularly once we are married)
- - Husbands and wives (special birthday and anniversary treats that are purely personal)
- - Co-workers (through company pot-lucks)
- - Children (chocolate chip cookies they have baked for their family)
There are other kinds of love foods and these involve a certain amount thought, planning, creativity and careful execution of timing:
- - Roasted Salmon
- - Steak and lobster (with clarified garlic butter)
- - Crab cakes with spicy aioli/curry mayonnaise
- - Latkes with applesauce and sour cream
- - Eggs Benedict with homemade Hollandaise sauce
In preparing a meal for someone you cherish, sometimes similar ingredients can run together (roasted meats, potatoes, rice, and bread). If you are presenting a plate that looks too beige or monochromatic, toss some color onto that plate.
Consider finely mincing the following to add color, flavor and nutrition to a dish:
- - English or Persian cucumber
- - Bell pepper
- - Tomatoes (in season)
- - Carrots
- - Artichoke hearts
- - Capers
- - Kalamata olives
- - Grilled Japanese eggplant
- - Pimentos
- - Radishes
- - Toasted nuts
On the list of beverages of love:
- - Champagne
- - Red wine
- - Sangria
- - Sparkling water with a fresh lime wedge
- - Hot Chocolate with a splash of Peppermint Schnapps
Desserts: a memorable finish:
- - Cheesecake (topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream)
- - Red velvet cake (iced with a thick, sweet buttercream frosting)
- - Chocolate (rich truffles are the best)
- - Strawberries and whipped cream (simple, colorful and bright)
- - Warm, gooey brownies (with a slab of ice cream and whipped cream swirl topping)
Remember, it doesn’t always have to be creamy, bland or sweet. The human palate appreciates surprise: Creative examples might include:
- - Savory, sweet and sour (grilled Polish Kielbasa with sweet/hot mustard on fresh rye bread
- - Salty, crunchy and sweet (Chopped nuts, fresh berries and granola topping Greek yogurt)
- - Hot and cold (hot, crusty French rolls with a pat of cold. unsalted butter)
- - Bland and spicy (chilled cooked salmon topped with homemade mayonnaise spiked with Tabasco, lemon juice and Hot Madras curry powder)
Whatever your preferences, consider combining contrasting elements to compose a culinary difference that will invigorate and excite your family’s appetite.
But whatever you do, prepare it with contemplation, ample time, consideration and love.
"Love Is All Around" was written by Long, Morrison / D.j. Bobo, / Breitung, Axel.