Every Valentine’s Day, as long as I can remember, my mother made my favorite breakfast — French toast with a side of bacon – but on this day, she made it even better.
French toast hearts.
The food-is-love idea was a constant theme throughout my childhood, and in my life, which is probably why I fell instantly – and hard – for a Brit who loved to cook for me in my 20s, and when he took me to Paris for the first time to experience five-course dinners that started with champagne and ended hours later sipping eau-de-vie, how could I possibly not marry him?
When the relationship ended a few years later, I questioned what it all meant. What about the picnics outside of Beaune, en route to Paris on the way back from Provence? The handmade chocolates from Brugge that we’d haul back to Dallas in our suitcases? The ham and cheese crepes while walking along the Seine, the pates and cornichons, the crusty bread, the sole meuniere, the creme caramels, all of it?
Did it not mean anything?
I wondered. I pondered. And I decided that if food is love, and I still loved food, then I would go on to cook, and love – again – without him.
And I have.
I’m rambling, I guess, about love and food, because for me, the two are inextricably linked. There’s not always a great love in my life – or anyone’s right? – but there’s always great food, and for that, I’m always grateful. And on those rare occasions when I find myself in the kitchen with someone that I love, cooking and chopping together, I’m in that special happy place where I want to live forever. It’s moments like these that are right up there with French toast hearts on the love meter.
Show me a guy who owns a set of knives, and I’m weak-kneed already.
So without further adieu — and to perhaps stack the decks a bit — I’m offering up my aphrodisiac-packed Chipotle Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas, to my Twitter #letslunch bunch, along with all of the rest of you, to share with the ones you love.
But I’m warning you, this stuff is potent. The heat-packed chipotles will kick in your endorphins and stimulate nerve endings (yowza!), while the zinc-filled pepitas and allicin-rich garlic will give your blood a rush. As for the avocado, the name itself comes from the native Nahautl word, “ahuacatl,” which literally means testicle (the Spanish priests banned them because of their shape), plus, the folic acid, vitamin B and potassium is a great immune system-booster, which can never be a bad thing, right?
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.
Here are some of the other get-your-motor-running recipes that the #letslunch bunch folks have posted. Bisous a tous!
BlogWellDone’s Asparagus and Avocado Salad
A Tiger in the Kitchen’s Teochew-Style Oyster Omelette
Showfood Chef’s Take-a-Bite-Take-a-Break Bedside Tray o’ Goodies
Serve It Forth’s Stuffed Oysters
Cosmic Cowgirl’s Pomme d’Amour Chicken Fricassee
Free Range Cookie’s Pumpkin Scones
Chipotle Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas
1 medium tomato, 1/4-inch dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 chipotle chile (in adobo), finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, rough chopped
4 ounces pepitas, toasted
1. Cut avocado in half, remove seed and with each half, with a knife, make 1-inch slices lengthwise, and then across, creating a checkerboard pattern. Now scoop out the cubes into a medium bowl.
2. Add everything else — tomato, garlic, chipotle, cilantro, and juice of one lime — and taste. Now add salt to taste.
Serve with toasted pepitas sprinkled on top, lotsa chips, and margaritas, if you dare.