Valentine’s Day means some fine dining


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What originally began as a commemoration of a Roman-Christian festival during Roman times has gradually become a unique American holiday.

Since the commercialization of Valentine’s Day in the United States generations ago, food has been an ever-growing part of the holiday’s appeal. One aspect that has gained importance is that of the traditional Valentine’s Day dinner, which continues to have a large effect on the restaurant industry every year.

“It’s a nice boost of business in what is typically the slowest month of the year,” said Frank Bowman, the owner of Linn Street Café, 121 N. Linn St. The restaurant is completely booked today and Saturday, filling its 160-person capacity.

Linn Street Café chef Brett Smith created the Valentine’s Day menu, choosing ingredients that are fulfilling yet not overwhelming.

“I want real good food for people to remember,” he said. “We try to [cook] different things that people want.”

Smith chose a four-course meal that includes grilled beef tenderloin with walnut butter and winter greens alongside Blood Orange espresso torte with white Russian whipped cream. The ingredients, despite being in season, were chosen specifically because of their lightness and their ability to satisfy customers without weighing them down.

Local confectioners Bochner Chocolates, 2445 Second St., Coralville, is another local business cashing in on pre-Lent delicacies. The holiday, which places an emphasis on commercial chocolate, makes up to approximately 20 percent of the company’s annual profit.

Justin Vigmestad, the director of operations at Bochner, said that while the chocolatier does not change much of the recipes to match the holiday, clients are still enamored of the copious amounts of mouth-watering colored truffles that sell.

The significance of food around Valentine’s Day is often dependent on the region it is celebrated in.
In Louisiana, Valentine’s Day is outshone by the beginning of Mardi Gras festivities.

“If you don’t celebrate Mardi Gras, you celebrate Valentine’s Day,” history Professor Constance Berman said. “Because the country’s religious trajectory is heavily based on Protestantism, most celebrations here in the U.S are not found anywhere else.”

The reason the Valentine’s Day dinner is so important is because it is specifically inherent in American culture.

“We have built into our culture the idea that we communicate through people around food,” Berman said.

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