The pressure to make the perfect romantic gesture on Valentine’s Day can be overwhelming. A relationship that’s working fine can suddenly buckle under the weight of expectation and the enormity of disappointment. Food producers and vendors are aware of this; they know that our brains can become scrambled and that we’re more vulnerable to ludicrous gift ideas in the lead up to February 14th than any other time of year. Right now, the food world looks completely different to the way it usually does. Everything is refracted through a crazy romantic kaleidoscope. Few of us have ever considered the sexual boost to be derived from, say, dry sheets of lasagne, but you can bet your life there’s a firm currently attempting to make that tenuous link.
‘Some foods,’ reads a current press release from Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes, ‘actually increase blood flow to the genitals.’ It stops short of suggesting a direct causal link between arousal and potatoes, but does note that spuds are a ‘good source of carbs to provide lasting energy release for that romantic walk.’ Good to know, if you’re planning a romantic walk. Potatoes can stop you keeling over at a crucial moment.
You may find yourself hurtling around shops, looking for Maca root because you’ve been told that Peruvians call it ‘nature’s Viagra’, but wait! You could always settle for some asparagus, which, we’ve just been told (via email), has a ‘suggestive shape’. (Although I’ve spent ten minutes leafing through a copy of The Joy Of Sex and can find nothing it remotely resembles.) Other rock-solid gift ideas include a 28-day supply of ‘romantic craft coffees’ from Coffee Trekkers, a Le Creuset stoneware heart ramekin (with lid), an Aphrodisiac Ale from Innis and Gunn (‘designed to get your juices flowing’) and a Krispy Kreme Lovebug Doughnut. All these are meant to yield high rates of physical attraction. But, mystifyingly, there are no guarantees.
Two pitches stand out from the rest. Heck, noting that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, has unveiled its Valentine Sausages, ‘perfect for cooking up as a part of a Valentine’s breakfast’. It’s basically sausage meat moulded into heart shapes, and while I’m sure Heck didn’t intend this, in their raw state they’re not a million miles away from looking like actual hearts. (If you’re vegetarian, it’s also possible to have romantic, shape-based fun over breakfast; perhaps pack some scrambled egg into a heart shaped mould, and serve with asparagus, which, as we’ve already established, has a suggestive shape.)
But the winner, by some margin, is restaurant chain La Tasca, with its ’10 foods to enjoy in the bedroom’. Never before has one firm attempted to associate so many Spanish foods with the act of love within one press release. ‘Why not try pouring Sangria into your partner’s belly button?’ it asks, nonchalantly, as if there aren’t several dozen answers to that question, all beginning with the word ‘Because’. But if there’s one way of achieving a toxic, strained silence this Saturday, followed by long, serious discussions deep into the night, it’s by following this advice, fresh from La Tasca’s love gurus: ‘Why not lie in wait for your partner, covered in tapas for them to eat off you.’ Patatas bravas, anyone? A good source of carbs for a romantic walk, apparently.