Oh, yes, Ladies and Gentlemen all, it is Valentine’s Day. At least, here in the good old US of A, where we constantly rebel against being told what to do and how to live our lives but are terrible sticklers for traditions that may or may not even suit our beliefs and needs. Now, celebrating the life–and, let’s face it, not-so-charming-to-celebrate death, since 14 February recognizes the officially accepted date of the martyrdom of St. Valentine by clubbing and beheading–of a possible whole group of Christian martyrs, who all have become conflated in the popular mind as one really nice guy who pitied and assisted the lovelorn, all of that is a matter of personal belief and taste, to be sure. Celebrating the highly adapted holiday of Valentine’s Day is one as well: as it’s been popularized, it’s a day for telling people we love them, filling them up with romantic food and drink and notions, showering them with flowers and sparkly gifts, and paying homage to our love in generally showier ways than usual.
There, my friends, is the rub where this stubborn old lady is concerned. I’m not really as curmudgeonly as all of this sounds however arguable my crankiness is on other topics. It’s just that I feel mighty strongly that if the love isn’t expressed on a fairly constant basis, in (as one might say) thought, word and deed, it means nothing whatsoever on Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, a birthday, or any other celebratory occasion no matter how the gifts and gooey treats are piled up and the lyrical words flow. It’s got to be the real, the every single day sort of deal, or it’s so much useless fluff.
That said, I am among the biggest mush-meisters inhabiting the supposed real world, never tiring of being madly in love with the one person who’s crazy and silly enough to love me back in equal extremity. When we’re sitting at our respective desks down the hall from each other–which we have positioned conveniently so we can see each other across the way while working and maybe sneak a wink for no better reason than that after more than 16 years we still have a school-kid crush on each other–we are both inclined to chirp I Love Yous back and forth at intervals just because we actually do. He cheers me up when I’m feeling low and cheers me on when I’m flagging, chauffeurs me because I’m not fond of driving, works long hours to keep our accounts balanced, and tells me I’m smart and pretty like he really believes it.
So I am delighted to make a favorite dinner for him on Valentine’s Day. Appropriately enough, I can operate on the K.I.S.S. [Keep It Simple, Stupid] principal on this day of romantic silliness, because he likes things unfussy. So all he gets is a slab of tender, untrimmed Texas filet mignon, skillet seared in butter with salt and pepper (my blend of black, white, green and pink peppercorns and whole cloves) and a pinch of ground coriander, a handful of fresh-cut Romaine lettuce and some juicy tomato pieces and a few ripe strawberries, a flute of South African bubbly, and a piece of dark chocolate with toasted almond bits and crunchy salt in it. Couldn’t be easier. No recipes, no muss, no fuss, and because I made big steaks, we both have enough left over for steak and eggs in the morning.Because romance is not a one-day deal, and expressing love should be the most important practice of the everyday. Bon appetit!