Hardeep Singh Kohli provides a recipe to help restore platonic love.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I’m all about the odi and not about the amo.
I loathe the day with every scintilla of my being. Apart from the consumerism created around the concept of a public display of what should be a private emotion, putting to one side the inability to get a table at even the most mediocre of restaurants, forgiving the florists’ daylight robbery of roses (an average increase of 30% in the week leading up to 14 February), there is much to query.
I pose one simple, straightforward and sincere question: why?
Why do we need the free market to prompt us to profess our penchant for that emotion which is as rarefied as it is refined: romance. Just over half of the UK’s population is prepared to part with pounds in return for passion – 2018 saw almost two-thirds of a billion quid spent on chocolates, lingerie, roses, set menus, sex toys, heart-shaped anythings.
I report with no shortage of pride that my nation, Scotland, is the “least loving region of the UK” in a survey carried out by Bloom and Wild. Putting to one side the patronising reference to the nation of Scotland as a “region”, this survey shows that we canny Scots are much less likely to be conned and connived into a created case for love.
The whole thing is a scam.
We all know that combative couple whose lives are defined by drama, symbolised through squabble, characterised with confrontation. We wonder when they will finally see themselves as the rest of us see them. We hope and pray that they call an end to the myriad dysfunctions they seem to think of as a romantic relationship. On the cliched Valentine’s Day, unlike the other 364 days of the year, he buys every red rose he can find in Didsbury, she purchases the skimpiest, sexiest of red lingerie and they spend an evening, fingers entwined by candle light, exchanging puppy dogs eyes before repairing to bed, limbs and tongues entwined, in a land of loving and lovers. The next day, they will return to the vitriol and venom. And so it goes….
There’s a more serious and philosophical reasoning behind my apparently curmudgeonly discourse to, what on the face of it, seems like a positive day – a day that encourages romance and relationships. And while it may, it does so in the now anachronistic and patriarchal gender roles; it feels like it’s all about the men wooing the women.
I believe in the idea of love. So much. But the love I feel that is being stolen away from us is that of platonic love – the love that unites the workers, that gives us shared cause, that ignites the passion that can and will change the world.
While the capitalists distract and divert us with hearts and flowers, we need to remind ourselves of the power of love. Else we are nothing more than fools.
RECIPE: Gooseberry Fool
This recipe combines the sweetness of a pudding with the sharpness of romantic reality.
This “fool” is alleged to have an etymological link to the French verb fouler – to mash or to press – and clearly alludes to what happens to the fruit whilst making this delicious dish, in addition to what happens to your heart while suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous love.
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Ingredients: 250g of gooseberry topped and tailed, the best few reserved for garnish, the seeds of a couple of green cardamom pods, 3 tbsp of caster sugar, 100g of Greek yoghurt, 100g of creme fraiche, 2 tbsp of icing sugar, 1tsp of vanilla extract, 200ml of double cream, freshly ground black pepper for garnish.
Put the cardamom seeds into a pan and toast for a minute or two, keeping them moving. You will soon smell that uniquely perfumed aroma, which will let you know you are ready to add half of the gooseberries and sugar with a splash of water. Heat gently, stirring before bringing to a simmer and adding the remaining fruit. Cook until the first batch of fruit starts to burst. Squash the burst gooseberries with a fork until pulpy. Try and leave the less cooked fruit intact. This gives you a lovely textural difference. Cool then chill until cold in the fridge.
Combine the yoghurt and crème fraiche in a bowl and beat with the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream to the point of soft peaks. Now carefully combine the cream, the yoghurt/creme fraiche and gooseberry mixture. Decant into beautiful, long-stemmed glasses, topping each with a gooseberry and a tiny sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.