Us girls like to be spoiled. And the good news is, it's really easy to do. Small gestures, especially if unexpected, can make us feel so spoiled and wonderful. Like breakfast in bed. We don't need fancy Eggs Benedict with a perfectly made hollandaise sauce. Bring us a bowl of cereal and a hot cup of coffee, maybe with the morning paper on the side, and we're in heaven. It's not the food itself - it's that we're still in bed. We're surrounded by a mountain of fluffed-up pillows (we've stolen yours because you're no longer here), are tucked tightly under the duvet and know that we get to stay here for at least as long as it takes to consume the food.
Spoiling us essentially involves doing something we'd normally do, thus freeing up time for us to do something we wouldn't normally do. The possibilities are endless. Take the children to the park for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon so we can watch the black-and-white matinée in peace. Take the washing off the line when you see a shower of rain coming so we can finish our own shower and not have to run out with the towel hastily tied round us to rescue them. Or simply cook us dinner.
At this time of year I see article after article on how to cook the perfect meal for your partner on Valentine's Day. These frequently include elaborate (and sometimes expensive) components such as shucked oysters or molten chocolate lava cake. Now, gentlemen, believe me when I tell you that we will not thank you for a meal if it either makes us sick or leaves the kitchen looking like a bomb landed. If you've never shucked an oyster, today is not the day to try it. I don't fancy spending the afternoon in A&E because you stuck yourself with the knife. I also don't want to spend the evening in the bathroom because you can't tell a good oyster from a bad one. (Sadly, I speak from experience here.) Molten chocolate on the ceiling is not my idea of a treat.
My advice? Stick to what you know and what you can do well. If cooking is really not your thing, don't attempt a complex five-course meal complete with amuse-bouche and palate-cleansing sorbet. Make something that really can't go wrong. A one-pot meal such as a slow stew or braise is a great idea. Everything goes in one big pot which then gets shoved into the oven and out of sight for several hours, allowing plenty of time to clean the kitchen, set the table nicely and pour us a glass of wine.
Or bring us breakfast in bed. Rather than attempting the impossible Eggs Benedict, pop to the local bakery and grab a few flakey, buttery croissants or a luxurious pan au chocolat. Take the butter out of the fridge before you go so it is soft and spreadable by the time you return - a beautiful croissant torn to shreds by rock-hard butter is not a pretty sight. Add a selection of jams to the tray - we girls love choices. And bring a whole pot of coffee rather than just a mug. Stick to small and thoughtful details rather than complex dishes. And most of all, surprise us.
Being the spoiled little sausage that I am, I actually get breakfast in bed most days. This marital anomaly was born from the fact that the house is like an icebox in the mornings. Hubby, having been born and raised here, is far better able for these bracing temperatures than I am. (That may or may not be true, but I'm rolling with it.) That's not to say that breakfast in bed on Valentine's Day won't make me feel spoiled - it just needs to be a few notches above the norm. (Pan au chocolat, pan au chocolat...)
Photo Credit: My wedding photos were taken by Ger Hore and edited very slightly by me. If the light balance is off it's my fault, not Ger's.
This article first appeared on www.myfoododyssey.com.
More from love