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I know I’ve been away for a while, and I’ll talk about that later – probably – but for now I am gripped by something more important.  Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.  What compels my wandering attention?

Is it the pressure this holiday puts on single people, forcing them to confront their sad and lonely solitary states?  No.  I’m not single anymore, but when I was, I didn’t care.

Is it the pressure this holiday puts on couples, urging them to live up to some artificially constructed standard of expression – planned spontaneity, casual glamour, carefully artless romance?  Nope.  We boycott this holiday.

Is it the $50 bouquets of dark, uptight roses and flaking baby’s breath?  They are someone else’s bad luck.

Is it the fog of red dye #3 that rolls across the consumer landscape?  Not really.

No, and no, and no.  It’s the damned bad dessert recipes.

Does this make me something of a snob?  Well, yes.  And I’m not going to name names – out of a lingering regard for mannerly discourse — but you know who the guilty are.  If you’ve picked up a magazine lately, if you’ve seen a cooking show, and especially if you’ve read a home blog this month, you’ve been subjected to such appalling confections as:

  • Vegan crème brulee
  • angel food cake fondue – extra rage for serving it with watery winter strawberries
  • vegan “tiramisu” concocted from ground nuts, coconut oil, and carob powder
  • instant pudding with various liqueurs
  • “mousse” made from instant pudding and whipped topping, with chocolate shavings on top to tart it up
  • tofu “mousse” or “mousse pie”
  • ANY tart that involves a box of powdered pudding
  • Or tofu
  • Anything on a stick that isn’t ice cream or hard candy
  • Chocolate “pizza”
  • Microwaved chocolate mug cakes – a pair, of course
  • Frozen mashed overripe banana concoctions – you know that belongs in the compost
  • Oreo “truffles”
  • “cookie dough” “truffles”, etc, etc: various confections involving the weary remnants of other sweets, pressed into balls, dipped in melted chocolate chips, and termed “truffles”.  If it can be palpated into a rough sphere and smothered in sweet waxy chocolate, apparently it can be called a truffle.  (Not in my house, it can’t.)

I am, obviously, particularly irate at the various sins against chocolate committed in the search for easy yet meaningful romance on cue.  However, we should not ignore the offenses against cream.  Chiefest among these is whipped topping, and it does not stop at “tiramisu” for Valentine’s Day, but leaves me prowling the sidelines at summer barbecues, casting wary, suspicious glances at things that merely look like trifle.  Nor can we neglect to consider crimes against butter, when margarine still leaves its wet and smelly yellow residue behind on baking trays across America.

We won’t even address the decorative aspect: I will forgive you for cutting the brownies into heart-shapes if they are good brownies to begin with.  And if you eat the scraps straight off the cutting board, decently, instead of pressing them into leaden “brownie truffles”.

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