Dearly beloved, we are gathered in this post to celebrate the union of love and barbecue.
With the summer wedding season in full swing, love is in the air - and it is increasingly followed by the perfume of burning wood and smoking meat. Once confined to the South, more and more wedding rehearsal dinners and receptions across the country feature a barbecue-laden feast. Recently, as I was leaving his son's wedding, a Colorado barbecue man - by way of Opelousas, Louisiana - gave me a parting gift of some alligator meat to smoke.
Food brings people together. A great deal of bonding can happen over a pot of soup, but when one person wants chicken noodle while the other wants vegetable, it can turn into a food fight - and not of the John Belushi variety.
Couples expect the normal relationship woes – sex, money, respect – but with the growing prevalence of dietary restrictions and interfaith marriages, the kitchen is increasingly turning into an all out turf war.
This shouldn't be a surprise, says psychotherapist Karen Koenig – food is an "anything-but-simple subject."
Whether you're coupled-up for the long haul, feeling the first flush of love or rolling footloose and fancy-free, you've still gotta eat on February 14, right? Here's our best advice for satisfying appetites of all sorts.
Tales from the Trenches
Once upon a time, I had a perfect romantic meal. It was ten years ago, but that doesn't much matter. The restaurant, by design, existed outside of time – mid-century French fanciness, untouched by fad or fashion. It seemed not outside the realm of possibility that the same tuxedoed waiters had been escorting the same fresh-faced and helium-bosomed young ladies (and their uncomfortably collared "uncles") to starched and sumptuous banquettes since the restaurant's opening in 1960, and that the maitre d' had air-kissed the same doyenne's surgically-taut cheek with the exact vim and deference he had since the year her Chanel suit was new.
It was Valentine's Day, and for a girl who frequently sported combat boots and a battle-scarred heart, this was as close to Hollywood l'amour as I'd ever gotten. In previous Februaries, I'd poured my heart into handmade cards, meticulously-chosen poetry volumes (and the occasional glass of single malt for myself), and had received, on various occasions a power drill, "I dunno - where do you wanna eat?", "Oh shoot...we're doing this?" and inevitably the bill for whatever entertainment ensued.