The dreaded V-Day is fast approaching, Cardies is getting rich, and depending on your relationship status you are either:
a) looking forward to an unparalleled evening of romance and canoodling; or
b) dreading being home alone with Lindor truffles, a Bridget Jones DVD, rosé wine and much weeping; or
c) gearing up go into nuclear meltdown if your spouse forgets... again.
To be blunt, unless you are in the first six weeks or so of a relationship, chances are that Valentine's Day is going to be a disappointment of gargantuan proportions, so all those of you who are in this happy position, take this free advice from me: make the most of it!
You could book into a restaurant for dinner, where you will be given a ridiculous set menu with a theme of luuurve (pink stuff, cutesy names, bad food), pay an arm and a leg, and be packed in jeek-by-jowl with your fellow V-Dayers so that you can hear every canoodling (or pre-divorce!) conversation around you.
Or, if you're sensible, you will woo your beloved in the comfort of your own home, with a menu of aphrodisiac offerings prepared by your own fair hand.
Aphrodisiacs or love foods are named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Some are considered to hold aphrodisiacal powers from myth and legend; others because of their phallic shapes; or because of their smell or taste; and some contain vitamins and minerals that contribute to a healthy sex drive.
Here are some renowned and less-renowned aphrodisiacs that you might want to try on your beloved:
Ginseng – when whole, it is said to resemble an erect male member, but this root's ability to reduce fatigue and improve stamina have also been proved in clinical studies. Add to cocktails or sprinkle over food.
Asparagus – well, there's the suggestive shape of course, but these spears also contain a lot of potassium which is a renowned libido-booster. Try grilled asparagus with parmesan shavings.
Chilli – the capsaicin in chilli cause increased blood circulation, heart rate and sweating – which presumably puts you in the mood for more of these activities later on in the evening. You can't go wrong with chilli crab cakes.
Oysters – probably one of the world's most famous aphrodisiacs, these babies contain a load of zinc which is needed for the production of testosterone. 'Nuff said. Serve them fresh on ice with Tabasco and lemon.
Avocado – the Aztecs called the avocado tree a testicle tree because the avocados hung in pairs and looked like... well, see where I'm coming from! Their high vitamin D and E content also boost stamina – but mostly, they are delicious. Go for a retro-tastic avocado Ritz starter.
Truffles – there is some doubt as to why these are considered an aphrodisiac. It could be their musky, almost-human pheromone scent, or it could just be that they are extravagantly expensive and if your date can afford them, they are clearly loaded. If you can't afford the real thing, truffle-infused oil on pasta gives you the taste without breaking the bank.
Acai berries – these South American palm tree fruits are a popular breakfast food in Brazil and contain anthocyanin, which improves circulation and has boosted the berries' reputation as an aphrodisiac. Tempt your lover with an acai berry sorbet.
Chocolate – the high-quality stuff (not Dairy Milk!) was recognised as an aphrodisiac by the Aztecs and apparently it's full of mild stimulants that release feel-good hormones. And then there's also the deeply sensuous experience of chocolate melting in the mouth... So chocolate is your hands-down winner when it comes to romantic desserts.
So if you're up for the challenge of romance, here's my ultimate menu of culinary seduction:
A dozen raw oysters on the half shell with drinks; an avocado Ritz cocktail for the starter; fresh pasta with a wild mushroom and truffle sauce for the main; and a dark chocolate fondue for two, with strawberries to dip into it for pudding. And lashings of champagne, of course!
What are YOU going to cook to seduce your partner this Valentine's Day?
Jeanne Horak-Druiff is the face behind the multi-award winning blog www.cooksister.com. This ex-lawyer based in London now spends all her free-time cooking, photographing and eating good food.