How to Mend a Broken Heart with Fudge

For many of us single folk out there, Valentine's day is like the big buff jerk at the beach kicking sand in the defenseless dork's eyes. We're on our own and most likely suffering from the mid-winter blues. So don't kick us while we're already down, February! 

For most of my adult life, I've had a beef with February 14th -- especially the cheesy, commercial, over-the-top romance associated with it. However, this year another image I feel bombarded with is really getting my goat: the anti-valentine. Or, the sad lonely bitter girl eating not-so-bitter chocolate by herself.  Just to be clear, if you're a single woman on Valentine's day, it doesn't mean you're either desperate to find a date or looking to fill a void with some empty calories. 

Tomorrow, I won't be wearing black, or eating junk on the couch, and I won't be spewing Liz Lemon quotes all night. Sure, Hollywood and Disney have stuffed the unattainable fairy-tale love story down our throats, but it has also established that the only appropriate time to eat ice cream from its tub is when you're broken hearted. Our stories, the ones we write and live ourselves, shouldn't be dictated by these dueling outcomes. Also, let's just tone it down. It's one day out of 365 -- it doesn't define who we are or our eternal relationship status. 

Not too long ago, I took a misguided leap of faith, and fell flat on my face. My friends and family picked me back up. Although I should have felt completely alone and out of love, I had, in fact, never felt more surrounded by love. That is what I want to celebrate tomorrow.

It's funny; my most memorable Valentine's day was a few years ago. I had spent the entire day making my then boyfriend's favourite dish. That night, as other couples were exchanging cards or heart-shaped boxes, we were breaking up. I gave him a Tupperware full of goulash and he was on his way. After I told my roommates, one of them got up, hugged me, and ordered pizza with extra bacon. We spent the rest of the night eating, chatting, and laughing until my belly and my cheeks hurt more than my heart. I don't often think of that relationship anymore, but I do remember my old roommates every time I order pizza with bacon on it.

I know I'm going against the grain here - or against centuries of English poetry and decades of American mass-produced cards that link Valentine's day with romantic love, but isn't that what history allows us to do? Revisit old concepts and challenge them.  

Hey Chaucer, how do you like this lovebird?

Instead of eating our feelings, let's savour the good times and the people with whom we shared them. Food has a power over our hearts and a way of triggering our memory -- even Betty Crocker knew this. For the housewife wishing to melt her husband's heart, she recommended baking his mother's cookies 

According to Betty, these cookies were "beau-catchers (and husband-keepers)"

The next book we'll be looking at, "Le Livre de la nouvelle mariée," was lent to us by our colleague Stéphanie O'Neill. Her great grandmother's handwritten recipes made many of us reflect on the food our own grandmothers and parents cooked. I couldn't help but smile when I found recipes similar to the ones in my own family's repertoire. 

Could this fudge recipe allow me to taste once again the treats my grandmother would lay out for us on our visits to her and my grandfather's house? I'm tempted to try every single fudge recipe in this book in order to have that walk down memory lane. It may be what I'll do tomorrow. Instead of rolling my eyes at candlelit dinners or cracking open a woe-is-me pint of ice cream, I'll be eating something that reminds me of the people who have always helped me back on my feet and who have made me cry from laughter. If it is the identical recipe as my grandmother's, I'll have to share it with my siblings and my cousins. I'd love to see what memories a first bite would elicit from them. If it doesn't taste the same, maybe I'll invite them over anyway, and cook something in the hopes of making new memories.  We can never have too many dishes to trigger happy thoughts -- especially at this time of year when we tend to forget that the cold short days are almost over.  

In the comments section, feel free to share with us some of your favourite dishes that bring to mind happy memories.

Photo credit: my brother Tom. Also, he stirred the blueberry sauce for our duck confit.