3 Love-Themed Gifts That Make Me Want To Drink A Bottle of Nail Polish Remover


The part of me that knows how to seduce someone is broken.

Massage oil, for example, makes me want to wash my hands.  And I dress for bed like we’re going on a long hike across an alpine tundra.

So I’m not an expert on how to steam up your Valentine’s Day, by any means.  But even I know the following Valentine’s Day gift ideas must be stopped.  They must be stopped right now, y’all.

Gift #1: Name a Madagascar hissing cockroach at the Bronx Zoo ($10)

Why? Why would you do this for someone you care about?

The people in the Bronx Zoo’s marketing department say you should do it because “Roses Wilt.  Candlelight fades.  Roaches are forever.”

Leaving aside the fact that these people need to get out more, they’re right.  This terrible, awful gift is forever.  Once you give it, you can never undo what you’ve done.  And I don’t mean that rhetorically.  You simply cannot un-name something that has a name.  That is not the way names work.

Gift #2: Spend $125 on a heart-shaped box of inedible wooden chocolates ($125)

One hundred and twenty-five whole American dollars will buy you a designer box of fake chocolates that you’ll never be able to eat.  The designer, David Stark, is also known for his equally frustrating soft crocheted hammers and saws, which sell for two hundred and twenty-five whole American dollars.

David Stark, you need to go to your room right now and think about what you’ve done.

Gift #3: Pay $10,010 To Propose Over A $10 Pizza Hut® Dinner Box ($10,010)

Pizza Hut is offering “an epic collection of proposal goodies” for people who are new to life or can’t count above the number ten.  Specifically, the epic collection includes a limo ride, a ruby ring, fireworks, a photographer/videographer, and a $10 Dinner Box, “hands-down the most vital, and appetizing, piece of the package,” according to a non-ironic press release that was actually approved by fully functioning Pizza Hut® officials living in the real world.

The $10 Dinner Box–which, again, is sold separately everywhere for $10,000 less than the price of the engagement package–includes a medium 1-topping pizza, 5 breadsticks with marinara, and 10 cinnamon sticks with icing.

We’re talking about paying $10,010 for a $10 pizza and the opportunity to have a stranger videotape you while you eat it.

Do people not know that for only $22 per couple, you can get a romantic rib eye dinner at the Waffle House®, complete with mood lighting, smooth tunes, a white table cloth and fake champagne?  And for $120, a scuba diver at the London Aquarium will swim through the shark tank with a sign that says “will you marry me?” (2 glasses of champagne and commemorative photo included).  Do people really think that the $10,010 Dinner Box® situation is better than a McWedding® engagement party that includes a cake made out of stacked apple pies? ($1,282 in Hong Kong, plus $165 for a dress made entirely of white balloons).

The fact that at least a few men out there will sign up for the Pizza Hut® proposal and one of them will win a pizza-themed wedding at Pizza Hut® headquarters in Plano, Texas just made me start crying.

And David Stark’s $325 metal facial tissues are not very absorbent.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.

Below are two recipes that are the opposite of pizza.  The first is for a simple dip made of hearts of palm, garlic, lime, and a dash of olive oil.  It’s light and fluffy and healthy.  It’s kind of like eating a tangy, delicious cloud.

The second recipe is for a simple salad of arugula, blood orange, shaved fennel, and shaved pecorino romano, with a drizzle of olive oil.  The slight anise flavor of the fennel and the refreshing citrus are great together.

Here they are:

Hearts of Palm Dip {Download & Print Recipe}

Adapted from Grace Parisi’s recipe in the March 2012 volume of Food & Wine.


1 12-oz. can hearts of palm (preferably whole, not pre-chopped)

1 small clove garlic

1 tbsp. olive oil

the peel of 1 lime, grated

salt & pepper to taste


Grate the peel of the lime.  Pass the garlic through a garlic press, or chop it.  Drain the hearts of palm.

Place the hearts of palm, garlic, and lime peel in a food processor with the olive oil and pulse until smooth.

Taste before adding any salt and pepper: It may not need it.

Serve with pita chips, or spread on sandwiches, such as one with sprouts and avocado and tomato.


Arugula with Blood Orange & Fennel {Download & Print Recipe}


1 bunch arugula (amount is flexible)

2 blood oranges

1 bulb fennel

a glug of olive oil, to taste

large shaved pieces of Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

coarse salt & pepper


Rinse arugula and pat it dry with paper towels.  Place in a salad bowl.

Using a paring knife, peel the oranges from top to bottom, exposing the shiny part of the fruit but trying to preserve as much of it as possible.  Hold the orange in your non-dominant hand and cut out each wedge by slicing down either side of the film between each section.  Add the wedges to the bowl with the arugula.

Rinse the fennel.  Cut off the leafy stalk and the dirtiness at the very base of the bulb.  Cut bulb in half, vertically.  Shave the fennel on a mandolin or the shaving part of a cheese grater, or slice it as finely as possible.  Add fennel to the bowl.

Toss the contents of the bowl with a little olive oil to taste.  Shave Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese into the bowl and toss again, seasoning with coarse salt and pepper if it needs it.

Note: Arugula is a bitter lettuce.  If someone in your party is taken aback by that, you could dress their salad with a little honey added to the olive oil.


The other day, Scott sat down on the couch with a spinach salad.

Thunder was fascinated.

First she looked up at me like “Do you know about this?”

Then she looked doubtfully at Scott as if to say “Dude. You’re really going to eat that?”

But as he continued to munch on it, she got more comfortable with the idea of eating a bowl of wet leaves.

And by the end, she was getting right in there and resting her head on his leg, with her chin practically in the bowl.

I would give her some, but she’d be a new kind of bonkers in Popeye mode.  And I don’t know if I could handle that just yet.