“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan D. Wolfelt
What a coincidence it is then that the annual holiday of love that we celebrate on February 14th each year, was actually originally a feast celebrating a Saint by the name of Valentine.
In fact, there is nothing coincidental about the connection between food, love and romance and the connection between these perennial entities is never stronger than on Valentine’s Day.
Acknowledging this fact as a male dietitian, I decided to reach out to my fellow nutrition colleagues (who, unlike myself, are pretty much all women) to learn about the unique definitions nutrition professionals attribute to Valentine’s Day.
Using my social media connections, I asked a number of dietitians & nutrition professionals to define their ideal romantic meal, there answers confirmed what I suspected; the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach.
“Because every aspect of my life revolves around food, it makes sense that I would express my adoration for another in food as well!”
“The way to my heart is definitely my stomach”
Note: Italicized quotes represent responses from participants.
Let’s take a look at the major themes I retrieved from my respondents.
1. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy: One of the major themes that I encountered in my participants responses is a dismissal of the notion that fancy elaborate dinners are a perquisite for a happy and healthy valentines day. In fact, many of these simpler dishes that were suggested weren’t necessarily all that healthy either.
“ Honestly, if a guy took me out for a really great hamburger for Valentines’ Day and he was ok with me getting a little food on my face, maybe even thinks it’s cute. That’s a winner”
“ You can’t go wrong with classic spaghetti and meatballs”
“I think eating in a fancy restaurant takes away the whole romantic factor. Cooking with my significant other a meal we both love is my idea of romantic… Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and of course red wine!”
“Im a sucker for simplicity , so overly elaborate dishes aren’t the only way to woo someone”
“ It doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant, or even come with gestures or gifts. For me, that extra attention and mindfulness is what keeps romance going for the long run”
2.… Unless you know for sure she likes it fancy: This should come as no surprise, but certain people have very specific tastes. There were a group of respondents who had a very clear idea of the precise meal they considered romantic. Here are some quotes:
“My idea of a romantic meal would start of with some grilled asparagus drizzled wit olive oil followed by a seafood pasta, either linguni or spaghetti, with shrimps and scallops.”
“A Mediterranean small plate, or meze, can be a wonderfully romantic meal. The med cuisine offers rich flavours in order to that the taste buds, while a small plate style dinner lends its hand to moderation.”
“I would love a petite prime filet, roasted asparagus and a tater of some sort”
3. Cheese, Wine & chocolate covered strawberries are a must: Talk about recurring themes… Cheese, wine and chocolate covered strawberries look like they are absolutely essential components of a romantic valentines day.
“Additionally a romantic meal must include a generous glass of fine wine”
“ Beside champagne and chocolate? Perroer Jouet and Dark Chocolate”
“ Fondue! Like legit fondue- French alps style. Vacherin fribuorgeious + gruyere with the whole spread Wine”
“For dessert, chocolate mousse, duh.”
4. It should be light & healthy (duh): It should come as no surprise that dietitians and nutrition students would value a healthy meal for Valentine’s Day. Although it was not a must for all the respondents, several indicated healthy food was a key component of their ideal romantic meal.
“Entrée would be seafood- whole grilled fish or mussel/sscalops and a simple side of grilled asparagus or roasted vegetables”
“Heart healthy salmon and leafy greens topped with walnuts.”
“Gotta get those veggies in”
“I think a romantic meal should be warm and cozy without leaving you feeling heavy. Include lots of roasted veggies”
5. It should be apparent that time, effort and consideration went into the meal: This was a big one. My respondents really valued the notion that a great deal of time and consideration put into planning the meal, and that also be apparent to them in the final product. The take home message here? Put a ton of thought into the meal and make sure it is apparent to your significant other ( without having to tell them explicitly!!).
“For me personally I find having a man make the effort to cook a meal intentionally with me in mind romantic. So I think as long as it looks good, taste good and uses fresh ingredients I would be impressed.
“I love it when someone cooks for me.”
“The idea that someone has had to spend the time thinking, shopping and preparing food for a picnic means a lot to me and how I show my affection. Time, effort and consideration for one another has had to happen and that is a lovely feeling!”
6. Just being together is the most important thing: No theme was more apparent than the importance of being and doing things together.This point really speaks to just how valuable it is to be there for someone, all the other stuff aside. Maybe all the rest doesn’t even matter that much?!
“Making dinner together at home. Ideally, we’d chat about the menu ahead of time to make a meal we both love and go shoping together.”
“Being there with the person I love is the perfect dinner for me”
“I think no matter what you decide to make on v day, cooking the meal together will make the date more fun an if your not that into cooking”
“ Anything you make with the love for your sig other, can be a crappy homemade meal but its always the thought that counts”
7. Acknowledge the individuality of your partner: Knowing your partner and doing the things for that person that you know they would appreciate is the final important theme that was apparent to me in my participant’s responses. Being able to reflect the uniqueness of the person and your relationship is obviously a logical course of action to take to make them feel special. This theme is somewhat related to theme #5, but also slightly distinct, enough so that I gave it it’s own category.
“I guess the best romantic meals would be reflective of the person youre cooking for, taking the time to tailor it to them.”
“I would prepare a bunch of different foods that our favourites and also that reflect our special moments”
Well, there you have it folks. The 7 critical themes that I have arrived at shedding light on the individual nutrition-oriented females perspective on what a romantic meal means. I think it is safe to say that whether your special someone is a dietitian or not, there are certainly some valuable insights to be gleaned from today’s article.
I want to thank the 20 colleagues and social media friends who gave me the feedback I needed to put this article together. I appreciate your participation and also the love and support that you provide me via social media on a regular basis. Your importance has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated this Valentine’s Day! Thank you!
Have a great day,
Andy De Santis RD MPH