The food of love: My issue with Valentine’s Day

So Valentine’s Day is approaching. Many people probably don’t remember until the 13th February and run out to the nearest Clinton Cards in a panic but I’m aware of its impending presence because of the sheer bombardment of merchandise. Similar to other card-sending ‘holidays’ the shops are packed with cards and trinkets – Tesco has an entire aisle of red and glitter which roars at me ‘BUY A CARD NOW!’ and I attempt to look for two seconds before scuttling away to the safety of the cereal aisle.

The problem with Valentine’s Day is the pressure to buy something. According to statistics the money spent for this ‘holiday’ is second only to Christmas which requires a ten-day celebration. I must admit, Valentine’s Day is an excellent excuse to show your love for a person whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, parent or pet, or, on the other hand, a guilt-free day to enjoy a whole tray of brownies and celebrate your unshaved legs. I just wish it hadn’t morphed into this absurd display of money spending while big industries rake in the cash because they intimated people into showing love. Not a particularly loving celebration in my opinion.

A cursory internet search epitomises this pressurising behaviour. For example – ‘Valentine’s Day Gifts for Him: Inspired by David Beckham, Jay Z, Aziz Ansari and More!’ or the whimsical chocolate gaming controller for £2.99. I’m sure all boyfriends would love to know Jay Z was a contributing factor in their new personalised mug.

What happened to the simple pleasures of making something? I love making cards (particularly ones with someone’s face stuck on a Harry Potter character but that’s another story) because it’s thoughtful, it can be packed with in-jokes and it also means I’m not stuck with an insipid tagline inside! A present of homemade edible goodies, in my opinion, is an ideal gift and not just because I’m obsessed with eating – as stated by M F K Fisher, ‘sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.’

A year or so ago Calum had a pet dog so I baked him zesty orange shortbread coated in thick dark chocolate in the shape of miniature schnauzers (cookie cutters come in all shapes it seems). Although some may oppose eating something in the shape of their pet he didn’t mind because it was personal to him – and maybe because he couldn’t ignore the fact it was chocolate orange – so it had no need for some indifferent pink hearts and sprinkles. And, without a doubt, he’ll receive a handmade card emblazoned with a Harry Potter reference this year.

Edible Valentine's Day gift of chocolate chunk shortbread

Crumbly chocolate chunk shortbread is simple and delicious – my favourite is the WI recipe but add a dash of extra love by stuffing it with dark and white chocolate pieces and a drop of vanilla extract.

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