Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Love that love-food

Restoring ourselves in the name of St. Valentine

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When love translates to food, some swear that equals comfort food. Depending on which culture you’re most at home with that could mean anything from naan and masala to a big fat kielbasa sausage, moussaka or fried pork chops with mushroom gravy.

If you translate love as life force, as in vitality, tea or coffee might be your love-food of choice, what with all those life-affirming but mysterious antioxidants – can you even pronounce epigallocatechin gallate? – never mind the zing from caffeine.

You’re French? Then here’s to red wine and its polyphenols that limit the negative effects of smoking and fatty foods like a double-cream Camembert that might have come straight from heaven.

If your first love-food struck you down on the prairies a few years back, you might go for the aptly named ambrosia – a gooey concoction of miniature marshmallows, tinned pineapple and mandarin oranges, sweetened coconut and just enough sour cream to glue it all together and qualify it as salad at the buffet counters of every cheesy mall restaurant from Winnipeg to Edmonton.

However, if you’re a die-hard believer in aphrodisiacs, those larger than life legends that promise to make you feel, well, larger than life, raw oysters will be front and centre on Valentine’s Day, their reputation as Love Potion Number 9 even edging out the traditional North American love-dinner offering of steak and/or lobster.

I know, I know. Some people, like Chris Field, the Oyster Guy at Bearfoot Bistro, swear that the oyster’s love reputation resides more in fact than fiction. Those squiggly little guys are the richest animal source of vitamins and minerals. Their biggest asset as aphrodisiac: their high level of zinc, which aids in the production of testosterone in men and estrogen in women.

But if you’re asking me about my love-food of choice, just in case you’re thinking of couriering it over in time to wow me for Feb. 14, you can keep your ambrosia salad and perfect Camembert, you can chuck those shell-shucked critters and just deliver the chocolate. Pounds of it, trays of it, tins of it, little foil-wrapped cubes of it – and the darker the better.

For I would argue, with all due respect to the Oyster Guy and company, that chocolate is, hands down, the closest thing you’ll get to an aphrodisiac this side of heaven’s gate.

I do believe I’m not alone on this.

All hail to a whale of a lift

"Chocolate is one of the most effective restoratives," wrote French gastronome Brillat-Savarin, as quoted in Larousse Gastronomique . "All those who have to work when they might be sleeping, men (I would add, and women) of wit who feel temporarily deprived of their intellectual powers, those who find the weather oppressive (sound familiar?), time dragging, the atmosphere depressing; those who are tormented by some preoccupation which deprives them of the liberty of thought; let all such men imbibe a half-litre of chocolat ambré ."

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