Tisha B’av has come and gone and now happier occasions are on our agenda. The approaching Tu B’av is the Jewish day for love and romance. To celebrate Tu B’av, the single women of Judea would dress in white and dance in the vineyards so as to attract the man of their dreams.
Marriage does not mean the end of romance and, while dancing might be more fun, cooking does not have to be a chore. Making your husband a delicious meal on Tu B’av can be a great way to remind him of just how much you love him.
Food to enhance marital bliss have been noted in folk remedies since ancient times. They include foods that increase the blood circulation as well as foods that improve hormonal function.
Besides chocolate, such foods can include green leafy vegetables, garlic, asparagus, fruits such as figs and bananas, and many seeds and nuts. The most effective of the seeds and nuts are pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, and walnuts. Almond, rose, and jasmine are valued both as edible oils, as well as for external use in body lotions and perfumes.
When I think of food and love however, my thoughts go beyond the actual food itself and include the preparation of the food. In order to truly declare a dish to be “food of love” it also needs to be prepared with love. True love begins and ends with G-d. To truly bring love into the food, kitchen, and home, it must begin with connecting to G-d and understanding that eating, and loving as well, are meant for a higher purpose.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe recommended giving tzedakah, charity, before beginning to cook a meal. This act of giving helps separate us from the materialistic connotations of food preparation and elevates it to a higher, more spiritual plane.
Before I begin to cook, I first take a moment to reflect. I remind myself of why I, once again, find myself in the kitchen. I let go of any resentment that I might have about preparing yet another meal, and I focus on what my goals are.
I remember that I am cooking to nourish my family and to help them achieve good health and happiness. I ask that the love that I put into preparing the meal transform, turning into nourishment, that will sustain them and provide them with energy. I watch as the steam rises from the pots and enters the walls of my home, permeating my home with the same love with which I cooked the meal.
Perhaps I am wrong, but I think that food cooked with positive intent tastes a whole lot better.
Below is a recipe for asparagus. Asparagus helps to reduce swelling in the prostate. It is also considered to be beneficial for female fertility. In fact, nineteenth century French bridegrooms were served a meal which contained three courses of asparagus.
The recipe below is one that I love because it is quick, easy to prepare, and still looks and tastes impressive.
1 bunch asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp mustard
Trim the bottom of the asparagus, removing the tough bit at the end. Lie the asparagus flat on an oven proof serving platter. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.
Grill on high for 3-5 minutes or until the asparagus turn bright green. Remove from the oven immediately.
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Gently pour the dressing over the asparagus in a swirling “S” shaped pattern.