Every holiday that we celebrate in America has very specific menus or menu items. We can move through the calendar from the "Hoppin’ John" of New Year’s Day to the barbecue picnics of the Fourth of July to the Cuban Nochebuena of Christmas. At our home Thanksgiving goes on for two solid weeks. Holiday menus supply us with a tremendous opportunity for sustenance. But what do we do with it? Most folks just watch football! It’s ironic that the sole holiday that may require intake of a powerful amount of food points to only one: candy.

Arguably, candy is an energy giver. But wouldn’t an entire menu of dishes providing true, robust, aphrodisiac powers offer would-be Casanovas and Cleopatras a more fitting "training table" with which to spend an evening of ardor on Valentine’s Day?

Maybe it is as our parents warned: we ruin our dinner with sweets. Yes. Maybe the whole show got put off from the start with those softly colored heart-shaped candies we shared with each other from the very first grades. And how odd that the guardians of prudish behavior every other damn day of the year, (our school teachers!), would guide us in the rituals of exchanging these candies and those emotionally nerve racking little cards!

But enough of that! It is time for change! I have a plan for the perfect Valentine’s Evening Feast. It would be an ALL CHOCOLATE menu! My ultimate Valentine’s Menu fantasy would begin on a celestially beautiful rooftop garden of a stone columned medieval castle in the countryside with a river flowing beside it. With each course I would serve chocolate and descend one floor at a time to a new room with my lover. And each of these rooms would be decorated in a manner that moved steadily and inexorably to more and more palpable evocations of Eros. The meal would include the Catalonian dish called "Mar y Muntanya" which features edible gold, bittersweet chocolate and saffron-gilded rice.

The repast would end on a gigantic red velvet-blanketed bed nailed onto a floating raft in the lazy, winding river whereupon there would be all manner of chocolate covered kisses and we would wash them down with gemstone-studded silver cups of Rhum laced Aztec Hot Chocolate.

With this Valentines Feast I think we would remember…

Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 2001





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