That's right! No musings about music or movies today! Instead, I'm going to help you woo your loved one with ten incredible culinary tips / tricks / cheats / lifehacks that I've picked up over the years that will impress your partner so much that your bed will almost certainly be pregnant by night's end!
You won't just find recipes here; I'll also be concentrating on the etiquette, presentation and good manners that one should exhibit when preparing - and presenting - a slap-up home-made romantic dinner for your significant other at what is generally considered to be the most romantic time of the year: the middle of February.
1. Lemon Cake makes a great yet simple dessert.
A few years ago, when I was holidaying in Sicily, I would get up early in the mornings and, after a short five minute walk from our rented villa, I would take a relaxed perambulation through the lemon groves that were located nearby. The bright, heady aroma of yellow citrus would fill the air and permeate the clothes whilst the morning dew would glisten like beads of crystal amongst the thick green bushes that surrounded the alberi di limoni. Usually I would then spend the rest of the day with the village puttane, getting drunk and laying down tall stacks in an illegal gambling den where the locals forced 90-year old men to fight for their amusement. It was while one particular grey-haired great-grandad was getting his teeth softly punched in that it occurred to me just how great - and simple - a decent lemon cake would be to make for the fantastica prostituta I had fallen in love with.
In order to make my lemon cake, you need several key but very simple-to-acquire ingredients:
10 Sicilian lemons picked fresh from the lemon groves in Conca d'Oro
Pay-off money for the local mafia (€1000 cash recommended)
My cake recipe is so simple and that you can probably work it out from there.
2. Soup is too boring as a starter. Have a hearty stew instead.
No-one likes soup, and if they say they do then they're lying. Instead of serving your partner salty coloured water, why not liven things up a bit and serve a hot, thick stew for your starter?
The trick of a stew is to make sure everything looks and tastes completely unappetising, so make sure to fill it with lumps of mystery to keep things interesting. Is that meat or a piece of carrot? What is a dumpling made out of? Why is there barley in this? Do remember though that stew should be served in a large glass, like a prawn cocktail, so you can see all the bits under the surface. Jokes about sewage should not be completely avoided.
Mark's top tip: if you find that your stew is a little watery, try adding wallpaper paste.
3. Alway offer your partner a seat at the dinner table.
This seems like a simple piece of advice but you'll never believe how many times someone has told me that they forgot to show their fellow diner a seat at the table and instead found them sitting on the floor or out on the fire escape. Save them - and yourself - the embarrassment by saying "may I show you to the table?" Lead them to the dining area and then gesture - with your arm & hand, or with your leg & foot if you've recently been involved in an industrial accident - towards the laid out table (make sure the candles are already lit). Say "here is the table" and then point to a chair. "This is a chair, but it is not your chair. That is MY chair." Then point to their allotted chair and say "this is where you will sit." Pull the chair out so they can sit on it.
It is important to exert your dominance early in the evening for maximum romance.
4. Make sure your choice of wine is appropriate for the meal and is served in the correct way.
Many people think red wine should be served at room temperature. This is a common mistake so don't feel bad if you thought the same too! Red wine should actually be served hot, ideally at the same temperature as custard. Rosé is generally only served to children so if you find yourself serving rosé on your dinner date then you might want to question your life choices and seek help. White wine should never be served, unless your partner smells of fish.
Mark's top tip: Wine should be served in a glass, but mugs and bowls are also acceptable if you're a teacher.
5. Norwegian food is the sexiest food.
They say that "the quickest way to a person's heart is through their stomach." This was actually proved to be physically incorrect after an intensive study at the Knickerbocker Hospital in 1925 but the saying has stuck with us throughout the years and for good reason: food is the ultimate aphrodisiac - after porn, sexy underwear and Marlboro cigarettes - and the sexiest of foods is undoubtedly Norwegian food. Don't believe me? See how quickly your date's pupils dilate when they look at you after you serve them some of these tr00 Norwegian dishes:
- Syltet lundefugl i burzumjuice
- Stekt kål med krydret strimler av gorgoroth-smak
- Saktekokt fenriz med honning og makrellbrennevin
- Mør røvhull av rein belagt med satyricon-glasur
- Mayhem gjæret fiskeeksplosjon
Mark's top tip: for a more authentic experience, turn off your heating and play the dulcet tones of Norwegian pop-folk band Darkthrone while you dine.
6. Cheese should be served in-between every course.
Nothing refreshes the palate like a thick slab of cheddar.
7. Serve Your Chicken Nuggets In The Shape Of A Heart
Whether they're purely there as a decorative measure or you're intending to serve them as the main centrepiece to your meal, chicken nuggets are sure to be the talking point of the evening if you serve them heart-shaped. Even though it is widely known that the traditional heart shape looks completely different to the real biological organ, it's still considered to be a highly romantic symbol of love, mostly due to its resemblance of a bent-over bum.
Mark's top tip: for added romance, why not arrange your heart-shaped chicken nuggets into the shape of a heart also? Only boring people or those dying of bowel cancer will find this tacky.
8. Fold your napkins into animal shapes.
When I was regularly smuggling narcotics across the border in Juarez, I met a very friendly DEA agent who had infiltrated our organisation whilst posing as a common street dealer. One time he invited me round to his home for dinner and while I was there he taught me how to make traditional napkin animals, a skill passed down from generation to generation in his family. He told me he hoped that he would teach his two young daughters this amazing skill when they were old enough.
Two hours later I discovered his DEA badge hidden away in his cookie jar. We buried him alive in the desert two days later.
9. Freshly baked bread is a must!
Everyone loves the smell, taste, feel and absorbency of freshly baked bread! Make sure you bake at least twenty five loaves before your date arrives. Scatter them around your home to fill your abode with the wonderful aroma!
Mark's top tip: for added romance, why not create a pathway to the bedroom using a trail of home-baked bagels? Make sure you sprinkle lots of yeast on the bedsheets for extra bouquet!
10. Last but not least, make sure you look presentable!
You need to look as good as your food does, so make sure you shave your lips, use an entire bottle of shower creme to wash your knees & elbows and iron your clothes before putting them on. When picking your clothes try not to choose a colour scheme that will clash with your crockery. And remember: there's nothing wrong with dungarees.
- Mark Anthony Finch
Why not play one of our Valentine's Day themed digital mixtapes whilst preparing yourself for your night of top-notch wining & dining?