While there are aspects of Valentine's Day that are certainly unappealing–ones that are neither new or nuanced to detail–we still hold this holiday dear for the personal traditions we share with our loved ones every February 14. Read on for how we spent ours this (and every!) year.
Michelle Jolliffe + Joyce Chai
For the last five or so years, my husband Lee and I have made schnitzel on Valentines. No, that’s not a euphemism for anything — we really do, from start to finish, make Melissa Clark’s Crisp Chicken Schnitzel With Lemony Herb Salad plus, if we’re feeling really adventurous, make a spätzle (homemade gooey, cheesy, egg noodly concoction) and pickled onions to pair with it. It was the best thing I’ve eaten in weeks (click here for the other best thing I ate) and the fact that we’ve made it a tradition for our family of two feels special. You’d think one of us might be Austrian or German, but alas, no. I cannot say how or why this came about other than the fact that we made it one year and then, when the next Valentine’s rolled around, we thought “Hey, that was really nice. Let’s try that again.” Perhaps that’s just how new traditions are made… I’m grateful that this one is crispy, crunchy, savory and tart, a schnitzel that fills my belly and heart.
It’s somehow become a tradition for my fiancée Van and I to go on a double date with my parents every Valentine’s Day. We were all craving something cozy and warm, so we gathered at Sun Nong Dan in Koreatown for some seolleongtang (Korean ox bone soup) and storytime. My dad shared his pointers on how to woo your wife (see: eye rolls by my mom and I) and my mom detailed my history as a smart, but terrible student (see: "lost" homework deliberately thrown in the trash). Food is central to all our gatherings so the evening was interspersed with our favorite variety of conversation filler–the sprinkling of salt in our soups, hearty bites of radish kimchi, and slurping down of warm, brothy noodles. We capped off our evening with barley tea cream puffs which I baked for my Valentines that afternoon.