Valentine’s Day has come and gone...
I wanted to write a post, but then decided not. Then I changed my mind.
And changed it yet again.
I finally wrote a post. And then kept it to myself...
I have been struggling with the concept of Valentine’s Day. V-day puzzles me and I keep pondering the purpose of it over and over again. I must be getting old and cynical because every new V-day feels progressively more like a wake-up call, a reminder to open up our hearts, almost as if we have forgotten how to do it, as if we have failed to love our loved ones and suddenly, we need a $10 card, a bouquet and an overpriced dinned in a way-too-packed restaurant to make it right.
Have you ever considered that going out on a V-day feels a little bit like speed dating? Rows and rows of couples, neatly arranged as if on the manufacturing line, served prix fixe food with the speed of light so that everything is ready for the next rotation. I love to support the restaurant industry, but not on this particular day.
I like to eat home on Valentine’s Day.
I like my flowers unannounced, my presents unanticipated.
I like my love to come in small daily doses -- a couple of ounces here, a couple of drops there -- a handheld, kiss and a smile in place of grand gestures.
What remained in my draft folder this Valentine’s Day is a write-up about an all-time favorite dessert and a drawing of hot-air balloons spreading the love around the world. I waited for February 15 to press “publish” and send the balloons flying, because all the cynicism about Valentine’s Day aside, we can never have enough of love.
Happy February 15 folks!
Eton Mess is not really a recipe -- it is a concept, an emotional state of being and a state of mind of a sort. It can change with the mood, weather, season, occasion and circumstances. My Eton Mess suffers from multiple-personalities disorder. Most of the time it is a crunchy disarray of uneven meringue chunks, but on a whim I have been known to crush the meringues close to powder, or keep them intact and wait for the whipped cream to perform its magic and soften the little clouds on my behalf. When aspiring to demonstrate that I am of chef’s kind, I make everything from scratch, most often than not I let supermarket do the job. (I have been known to invest days of work into magnificent Austro-Hungarian desserts, only to find my guest fighting over the Supermarket Eton Mess.) Come May, when strawberries are in season, my Eton Mess becomes strawberry obsessed; on the New Years Eve it goes in the opposite direction allowing for just a hint of fruit buried under the mountain of whipped cream the size of Mount Everest. Depending on the frame of mind, and the occasion, I may choose to serve it in crystal glasses, or combine everything nonchalantly in a bowl. When feeling utterly pompous I will attempt an extravagant plate presentation involving strawberry carpaccio finished with the drops of strawberry puree. But as Heston Blumenthal once wrote “some things should just be left well alone, and Eton Mess is most certainly one of them,” hence, most of the time I just let it be itself -- an adorable mess of meringue, strawberries and whipped cream.
* a handful of meringue per person
* a handful of strawberries person
* A LOT of whipped cream
Crush the meringues into uneven pieces. Cut the strawberries according to your liking. Put a tablespoon or two (or more) of whipped cream at the bottom of the serving dish. Throw in the meringue and strawberries. Top with whipped cream. If your serving dish allows, keep on piling. Enjoy!