It is almost time for that most Hallmark of holidays: Valentine’s Day. Depending on your outlook, the cupids, hearts, flowers and chocolate can either be a necessary component of courtship, or hopelessly saccharine nonsense. Whatever your stance, the day is nearly possible to ignore. Hearts and flowers are everywhere.
Where did all of this come from, and why?
Legend has it that a Roman priest called Valentine was beheaded on February 14th for marrying young couples, a practice banned by then-Emperor Claudius II, who believed men were reluctant to join the army because they were overly attached to their wives and families. Celebration of the day may also be related to the Feast of Lupercalia, held between February 13 to 15 as a spring ritual to encourage health and fertility. The feast often involved the sacrifice of a goat–not practical for most of us who’d like to mark the day with a feast of some kind but not have to kill anything ourselves. Oysters and chocolate are big ones to celebrate the day, but are a little done.
So, what to make your beloved as a token of your affection (and maybe, just maybe to elicit a purr)?
Figs with Basil and Chevre
Both figs and basil are thought to be aphrodisiacs due to their ability to stimulate the senses of taste, scent and texture, and the chevre creates a rich and tangy foil to the fruit and herb flavour. (Not to mention they’re easy to make, and very pleasant to feed to one another!)
- Set your oven to broil.
- Slice the figs in half and top with a small dollop of chevre.
- Place in the oven and broil until the cheese melts and browns ever so slightly.
- Top with torn basil leaves (tearing is better than chopping, as the leaves brown much less).
- Get cozy with a glass of your favourite wine and tuck in.