Ah, yes, it’s that special time of year again. Rose petals float down from the heavens, the air smells of lavender, menu prices go way up. Valentine’s Day is upon us once again, folks. For some, that means looking back on romantic, candlelit dinners of years past. But for others—those of us more inclined to curl up in a ball, eat an entire bag of candy corn from last Halloween (weird flex, I know), and watch an entire season of You—it’s a chance to remember long-ago heartbreak, reminisce about the meals we thought would absolutely put a ring on his finger, and just generally feel bad for ourselves.
I find it oddly freeing to openly admit that not all romantically-intended meals lead to long, loving relationships. Sometimes you make a chicken for the hot, perfect, totally-no-red-flags guy you’ve been seeing for a month, and two weeks later, the relationship explodes like a wet turkey dropped from a third floor window directly into a deep fryer waiting below. That’s okay! Food can be the ultimate symbol of affection and love, but sometimes that’s just not enough to smooth over the cracks.
Sometimes, instead, food is a warm, comforting embrace of self-love; something that pulls us out of the pits of self-pity and gloom. There is, for instance, the pumpkin tea cake I made twice a week for two months the last time a promising relationship went south. Each time I baked it, I messed with the recipe a little more, until the warm, spiced cake was entirely my own, sweet potato taking the place of pumpkin, olive oil standing in for vegetable oil, a dash of turmeric added for an extra glow I so desperately needed.
If you’re looking for sweet, romantic personal essays about food and love and happily-ever-after, there’s plenty of those to go around this week. You’ll even find some on this very site. But that’s not what I’m here for. I want to know about your kitchen heartbreak stories. What are the meals you were positive would lead to lifelong love, but didn’t? What red flags did you ignore because your hot (extremely problematic) date made ravioli from SCRATCH?? After your heart was smashed into a billion little pieces, what sad meal did you make for yourself for dinner 17 days in a row, until your girlfriends staged a full-blown intervention?
While your perfectly-coupled friends plan their date nights and sous vide their steaks and pick out their outfits, take this time to drop your favorite (or least favorite) heartbreak cooking stories in the comments below. I’ll be chiming in between episodes of You. Who knows, maybe we all use the same post-breakup chicken recipe.