The other day sofapal Tracy and I were discussing the tyranny of Valentine’s Day. She’s at the tail end of a relationship and I’ve written before about the disasters associated with those two words in my romantic life. So neither of us have any reason to give it the time of day this year. But the stores are still filled with hearts and flowers and racy underwear – so we have no choice but to be reminded that it’s here.
T mentioned an invite she had received from Ludo Lefebvre – excellent chef and great contestant on Top Chef Masters. Ludo sent an email to his regulars at Petit Trois (his LA restaurant) suggesting that on Valentine’s Day they point themselves in his direction and: “come fall in love with food again”. “Bring your friend, family or significant other” (note the order), he said – and come have an evening of cocktails, fun and fabulous French Food. These great promised were followed by words that you seldom hear in the restaurant trade on Valentine’s Day: “Walk-ins are welcome”. A gentle reminder that no-one needs to be on the outside with their nose pressed up against the window.
I loved this. Ludo is opening up Valentine’s Day, taking the potential solitude out of it. The focus was still going to be love: but here it is around sharing – good eats, good drinks, good music and good laughs. He knows some people feel marginalised on the 14th Feb, so he has made it clear that Petit Trois is open to all. What he is saying is that the love of food is all-inclusive. So come one and come all, and you will be received in Graceland.
If you are feeling the weight of Valentine’s Day – whether coupled up or solo – how about doing it differently this year? How about sharing the love – whatever that may mean to you? It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture: make that call you’ve been putting off, speak to a parent, take a friend for a cocktail, buy a kid an ice-cream, baby sit for a sibling, take a dog for a walk. Or invite your neighbour for a coffee, deliver a cake to a shelter or old age home and stick around to have a slice. Buy a sweet card for a homeless person, tuck a fiver in it. These are simple things. Love doesn’t have to be just for lovers. At its most fundamental it is about connection and recognition. Ludo is spot on.
The Nans and their father are going to be here on Valentine’s morning. It will be rowdy and chaotic and there won’t be any cards and flowers. Instead we’re heading over to The Neighbourhood Goods Market for breakfast. sofasister may join us, and who knows, Granny and Popper may too. We’ll be a travelling circus of family and friends – of different generations, complicated relationships and even of different species (Jack is part of the family after all). But the one thing we will have in common is we do love each other. And everyone should be included.
After all, isn’t that the whole point of a day set aside for love?