So, you have decided to cook for your missus/mister/person who doesn’t like to be referred to as either of those things because they are A) gender neutral B) a bit of a scary feminist/whatever the male equivalent of that is, or C) they actually don’t like you that much/secretly have two children and another girlfriend in Slough.
At first, inviting your sweetheart round will have seemed like a particularly cunning plan. Whilst friends will be hectically ringing York’s finest (and fully booked) restaurants, trying to create their own Fox and Apple cards out of yoghurt pots and biro and eventually booking a table for two at Dixy chicken, you’ll be smugly smirking on the sofa, kicking back in front of Dancing on Ice. You’ll seem sensitive and caring, you think to yourself, and more importantly you won’t have to compete with that greasy Italian waiter at Ask who wears tight, tight trousers and keeps thrusting his unfairly large “black pepper Madame?” into your girlfriend’s cleavage.
But as it gets closer to the time, you’ll start to panic. What if your dreamboat casually drops in that they’re a “veggie” just before you proffer them your massive Cumberland? What if your herpes-infested housemate refuses your polite suggestion of Sunday Night Gallery and insists on wandering around in his unseemly transparent boxers, doing elaborate farts in your lounge? Soon you’ll be kicking grannies in Lakeland Plastics in the shins to get that last heart shaped muffin mould and scouring Valentines themed websites, of the sort written by chubby, older women who wear Eeyore sweatshirts and also collect porcelain shoes.
Take a deep breath. For one thing, you’ve done considerably better than your amici at Dixy Chicken, in that you’ve already got your date to come back to yours. Ca-ching. It was that simple. They fell for it hook, line and sinker, and with any luck it will take half a bottle of Jacob’s Creek and 45 minutes before they look like this:
However, for those of you still trembling beneath your tea-towel, here are some lovingly compiled notes on those popular Valentines snackettes:
Oysters – oysters are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, so you could be forgiven in thinking you were onto a winner. Get a bad one however, and your date (or yourself) is highly likely to get explosive diarrhea. Hmm, not so sexy now is it Casanova? No amount of lip gloss can undo that kind of damage. So, if the oyster isn’t tightly closed or it smells a bit funky then abandon ship. Also shucking oysters isn’t as much of a bloody walk in the park as everyone makes out. You have to get a very sharp knife and use it to click the shell open, although if you’ve had the other half of the Jacob’s Creek you’re probably twice as likely to slip and stab yourself in the palm, omitting a very girly high-pitched wheal at the same time.
Chocolate fondant – so, you fancy yourself as a bit of a Gordon Ramsey/Nigella at heart. Up till now you’ve been scoffing at this article, congratulating yourself on your marvelous cooking expertise and looking forward to cooking something risky. Your date will gasp, “aren’t they very difficult?”. “Not if you’re as good a cook as I am my darling” you’ll drawl and slip off the ramekin just like you’re hoping to slip off other things later…. And you know what? You’ll look like a knob. No-one likes a smartarse. If you really are that good under pressure, cook something more sophisticated like a bavarois or something equally unpronounceable, and leave the “I’m hard on the outside and soft in the middle” jokes in your head, where they belong.
Garlic – I’m actually going to recommend this. Get your date to eat loads of the stuff. Then if they’re considering the irresistible pull of SNG as an alternative to the delights of your recently hoovered boudoir, no-one will kiss them. They’ll basically have a choice of snogging you or no-one. Get in.
Strawberries and Champagne – this is very romantic and foolproof, a la pretty woman. Girls love strawberries because they’re almost pink, and guys love alcohol, with or without the strawberries. Double win.
Chocolate fountains – these are a really terrible idea, especially ones with white chocolate. You start off with bits of kiwi fruit and grapes, then move on to mini doughnuts, fudge and other things that you buy in the plastic packets bit of Sainsburys bakery, and before you know it your date has turned into your wife, and someone who once looked like Megan Fox now looks like Kerry Katona. And you’re stuck together. Forever. Don’t do it.
I’ve just asked my housemate, and apparently I don’t need more foods. So here are the ones I would have included in bullet point form: artichoke hearts (awww hearts, that’s sweet isn’t it?) pineapple (don’t ask why), soufflé (hope it doesn’t flop) and anything from the Marks and Spencer’s adverts (my friend Flick has just announced that they “turn her on”. She is single, and up for Valentines fun, XX Windmill Lane if you’re interested…)
Good luck and Happy Valentines Day everyone! Mwah! xxxxxxx