So, Valentine's Day. Another quasi-holiday whose purpose is to exacerbate the situations of the ugly, lonely masses. You go to Hallmark. You buy cards, flowers, candy, little cute Gund bears with those glossy button eyes and ever-so-soft fur, new cars, diamonds, etc. You book the worst table at the best restaurant (you totally should have thought about making reservations BEFORE today). You iron your finest shirt. Ha! Totally got you there; dudes do not iron shirts. Dudes wear shirts (any women out there can disregard the previous sentences. Besides, you probably weren't going to wear a damn shirt anyway. You probably had a blouse or something, or whatever chick shirts are called these days).
Now, if for some reason you couldn't get a table at any restaurant, you might break out the fry pan and caviar (probably in no direct combination) and give an old-fashioned romantic meal a go.
This is an awful idea. Let me tell you why. First, we'll need to go back to basics. Below is a list of known aphrodisiacs/sexy foods that people try to cook without any real experience and probably cock up more than anything:
-Asparagus (I didn't know either)
Okay, it's only a partial list, but it's all the ammunition I need. Take a good look at that list, and I guarantee the majority of foods listed are seldom in heavy rotation for you amateur chefs out there. I'll split them into two categories to make this easy:
1) Foods you eat often but don't necessarily incorporate into a special occasion menu;
2) Things you do not eat outside a restaurant.
For me, I know I eat a lot of chocolate, almonds and strawberries, cook asparagus regularly, and drink a good amount of wine. I love truffles, oysters, and sparkling wine when I'm out to eat. I want to you make a note of where these foodstuffs fall in your life. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Right, so, here we are with a bunch of food that are familiar and you probably like. And yet, there's something amiss. Most attempts to present these arousing foodstuffs in concert with each other will turn out disastrous. I imagine two distinct, yet equally awful, scenarios (per items 1 and 2 above - I love referring to my lists, it makes me feel organized).
1) You spread the ingredients out on the counter and see them as completely separate entities. You panic. You and your significant other end up eating a handful of almonds to start (I hear seven is the optimal serving to maximize the positive effects of protein and folic acid, yet minimize the amount of fat). Then you eat some asparagus, probably [I hope] as an accompaniment to something else you know how to cook (like a boring chicken breast - remember, you used all your energy considering the ingredients and their ability to drop the drawers, as it were). Then you finish up with champagne and chocolate, but not necessarily the right sparkling wine that goes with the right chocolate (I won't even get into that). You drink wine throughout, and that's cool, because you like wine. Boooooooooring.
2) You have no clue how to prepare oysters. You've only ever had them raw at Bobby Flay Steak and one time somebody said something about Rockefeller, but you figured it was another one of Jay-Z's marketing ploys to get you to drink his vodka or buy records or something. So you serve them raw. That is, after you cut the hell out of yourself trying to open them with a chef's knife. So, you're bleeding, but you apply pressure and suck down a few oysters. They taste a little fishy, but that's okay, right, because they're from the ocean? A jagged piece of shell scores your esophagus, but only slightly. You wash it down with a hearty swig of Franzia blush. You move on to the main course: asparagus and truffles. You hear it's better if asparagus is crispy, so you don't cook it. You weren't sure if they meant truffles from the ground that pigs sniff out or the chocolate ones. Who would eat something that's all dirty and was in a pig's nose? Eww. You opt for the chocolate ones. You choke everything down with more Franzia. The dinner has ended, thankfully, so you raise a toast of Cold Duck brut as you force-feed Hersey baking squares into your date's maw.
Flash forward a couple hours: your hand is still bleeding, and you feel a little faint. As your date drives you to the ER, she starts vomiting uncontrollably. Somehow you make it, only to hear that you've lost nearly a pint of blood and her healthy bowel flora has been overtaken Vibrio vulnificus and she'll be riding the toilet for the next 48-72 (that is, provided she doesn't die from consuming the tainted oysters). You smile sadly and drool a little, since your throat is bleeding from the shell and you can't swallow. You wake up the next morning with a ridiculous hangover from the cheap booze and have to go to work because Valentine's Day was on a Wednesday. Awesome.
There you have it. Happy Valentine's Day. If you choose to cook, go with what you know and let your charm (read: diamonds) be your aphrodisiac.