My daughter’s school decides to have prom on Feb 14. So in as much as I want to avoid it, I am trapped right in the heart of Valentine’s Day cheesiness! Prom is at the Edsa Shangri-la so I make things convenient by staying the night at the hotel. There is a long queue at the check-in counter as it is a fully booked this weekend. Luckily I am upgraded again. It seems like Edsa Shang is now my “new” favorite hotel next to the Peninsula. Traffic, fully booked restaurants, teeny bopping puberts in suites and ball gowns, roses and red every where! I retreat to my room to avoid the madness.
Why is Valentines such a big deal? How did the occasion come about? And why is food an important part of the celebration?
In history February 14 during the Roman Empire was actually a fertility festival. To the Romans Cupid was known as the
god of love Eros (thus the word erotic) and had a physically perfect form. Inspired by Eros…a chef’s romantic Valentine’s menu would consist of aphrodisiacs like chocolate, oysters, caviar, wine, truffles, Champagne, strawberries and foods that awaken the senses.
Cupid is also known as the mischievous chubby winged cherubim in Greek mythology. He shoots arrows into the hearts of people so that they might fall in love. As the tale goes.. Cupid falls in love with a very beautiful woman named Psyche. His mother Aphrodite or Venus(the goddess of love to the Romans) becomes jealous of her beauty. The story of Cupid and the mortal Psyche is a long one about forbidden love. After facing many trials the king of gods Zues feeds Psyche with “ambrosia” or food for the gods. Eating ambrosia turns her into a god. Cupid and Psyche are married and in the end love prevails.
In the Middle Ages the church converted people and one way to sell the concept of Christianity was to combine pagan beliefs and turn them into Christian Holidays. In 498 AD Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as Valenine’s Day in honor of St. Valentine. It was said St. Valentine performed secret marriages for lovers and help many Christians escape from persecution and prison. Thus St.Valentine and Cupid became the patron saints of lovers.
Today Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest marketing ploys to get people to dine out. Let it be known that in this profession it is the most unromantic day for chefs. They are all busy manning the kitchens of restaurants executing their special menus. Chefs hardly celebrate Valentine’s day on the exact day. They maybe some of the most romantic people in the world, but never on the fourteenth of February.