It’s easy to drink the Kool-Aid when it comes to Valentine’s Day dinner. Conventional wisdom dictates that there are certain foods that are more “romantic” than others, and that those foods—and only those—should be eaten on Valentine’s Day. And Epicurious is no exception. Search through our site, and you’ll find plenty of advice on the subject. We tell you how to make 3-ingredient chocolate-covered strawberries and heart-shaped mirror cakes. There’s advice on making a retro lamb-chop menu straight from the pages of a 1977 issue of Glamour. We even help you make darling little heart-shaped, lemon-scented fresh cheeses that no one with a pulse could resist.
But like all pieces of well-meaning advice, sometimes the guidance we get about romantic foods is just plain wrong. So if you want to prevent your special day from going down the proverbial tubes (so to speak), heed our dire warnings about these common Valentine’s Day dishes.
Two lovers, gazing at each other across a small cauldron of molten cheese. What could go wrong?
Aside from the fact that no one wants to mess with sterno on a casual, romantic evening, there’s the simple fact that all fondue will curdle into a stodgy mess, sooner or later. That reminder of the temporary nature of even the most potent delights might trigger feelings of ennui that could result in the donning of flannel pajamas, a fatal sign that no fancy bottle of Champagne can possibly overcome.
The solution: Make a mini, sterno-free fondue instead.
We all have that nostalgic image in our minds: Two surprisingly intelligent dogs—one a humble mutt, the other a well-groomed spaniel—fall in love over a red-checked tablecloth and an Italian serenade from two well-meaning restaurant workers. Perhaps the gritty realism of this scene convinced you that the meal they shared, spaghetti and meatballs, was indeed a recipe for romance. But let me beg to differ. Eating long tendrils of sauce-coated pasta will not magically lead you to your loved one’s lips. Instead, those tendrils of spaghetti are liable to suddenly whip up as you slurp them, spattering your very nice outfit with tomato-tinted smudges. And before you propose simply switching to a short pasta shape, one word of caution: carbs will make you sleepy and bloated. Choose wisely.
The solution: Go for a lighter take on Italian instead.
On Valentine’s Day, we often start thinking about foods in terms of gender. Men should eat bloody, medium-rare Porterhouses, while women should nibble on delicate chocolate truffles, some unknown authority has declared. But although eating protein-rich foods (rather than carb-heavy ones) makes sense on Valentine’s Day, you still don’t want to overdo it. After all, a hefty slab of beef will put you into a meat coma that’s almost as potent as a pasta one. And that’s not even taking into account the baked potato and creamed spinach that’s usually served alongside that steak.
The solution: Here’s a radical idea: Don’t go out of your way to eat anything “romantical” at your Valentine’s Day dinner. Just make a light supper of exactly what you’re in the mood for. Because odds are, you don’t need to order fancy steak to tell your Valentine how you feel.
Perhaps the most iconic aphrodisiac, raw oysters make it onto Valentine’s Day dinner menus year after year. In some ways it’s understandable: they’re briny, slippery, and delicious. They’re not too filling. You eat them with your hands. (Apparently for some people, mess is a turn-on.) But oysters, more than any other food on this list, have the potential to go very, very wrong. One bad oyster and the night is over, my friend. If you don’t feel like playing Russian roulette with your gastrointestinal system on this most romantic night, steer clear of the raw bar and check out recipes for grilled, broiled, or roasted oysters instead.
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