Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Lupercalia...or Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!  I was once told that Valentine's Day was invented by Hallmark, but the truth be told is that Valentine's Day has been celebrated long before the greeting card corporation existed. In Ancient Rome, February 15th was the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, a festival of fertility, and it understandably had romantic undertones if you know what I mean.  In an effort to convert pagans, the Catholic Church changed the holiday to February 14th in 496 and called it St. Valentine's Day in honor of two martyrs, Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni.  It wasn't until the middle ages, 1400's,  that Valentine's Day became officially associated with romance.

Chef and I started a new Valentine's Day tradition this year.  It was inspired by the pagan origins of the holiday as well as the tradition of my friend Andrea and her husband Charles.  Charles gives Andrea rose bushes every year which she plants in her garden.  This gesture struck me as darling.  I told Chef from now on in I wanted a pair of plants and in return I would make him the feast of his choice.

Two beautiful azalea topiaries were my gift this year and for his feast...traditional Jewish comfort food.

Course 1 Chopped Liver (not my favorite...the things we do for love)
Course 2 Brisket with Carrots and Onions
Course 3 Noodle Kugel
Course 4 Poached Fruit
Course 5 Rugelach

Unfortunately,  Valentine's Day is a work day for all chefs, so we shall celebrate our feast next weekend.  I hope you all enjoy well and love well!

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