Food, a symbol of love (a Valentine’s Gift Guide)



I read somewhere that food tends to be the symbol of love when words are inadequate.

Perhaps that’s the reason why so many of us scramble for restaurant reservations come Valentine’s day. (Actually, studies reveal that our dopamine system kicks in when we look at someone we love or at a favorite food so our brains really do connect food to love and a sense of well-being.*)

A friend of mine recently shared that she and her husband have a tradition for the holiday: every year, for eight years now, they’ve spent the Valentine’s evening cooking together. They make the same thing every year. It was something that sounded delicious, involving avocado and perhaps crab, but they only make it on that night. It’s something special. It’s romantic, but also very smart! (The pressure is off! The planning is done!) I tried to think of what my one dish would be, should I have the chance to choose a single item. My first thought would be something involving truffles and pasta (see above)… or stinky cheese… but I wouldn’t want those items to be off the table, so to speak, for the rest of the year. Mario Batali’s Mint Love Letters could be appropriate, but it’s tricky, really, when you think about it, to come up with that single dish.

So here’s a take on the tradition I thought might be nice. For every Valentine’s day, a new cookbook. And a new dish to be made together. Here are the cookbooks from 2014 that I’d be most inspired to wrap up (or to find wrapped up). Bonus: many of these are affiliated with a restaurant, for another night.



Bar Tartine // Flour + Water

 // The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries
 // A Kitchen in France
 // The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone // 

Food52 Genius Recipes // Plenty More // The Slanted Door // Huckleberry
 // Sunday Suppers

& Not pictured: Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship


And don’t forget: breakfast counts, too. This Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday after all. Pictured: The secret to perfect soft-cooked eggs and to the best buttermilk waffles.

Any traditions you keep for this holiday? 

P.S. If you do prefer to go another route, try one of these gift guides. More thoughts on Valentine’s Day.

*As pointed out by John Allen, and discussed on All Things Considered

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