Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday. It exists in its current form largely to market flowers and chocolates. It's just one tool in the bag of the machine that sells all of us products during our every waking moment, and which will sell us things while we sleep as soon as the technology allows. There's credible evidence that St. Valentine's Day has only associated with romance since the 14th century, when the story was picked up by one Geoffrey Chaucer. Which means that if you fail to secure flowers, sweets or failing that a card, you can blame the same dude who wrote The Canterbury Tales. The more you know!


I recognize that I am in the minority where this holiday is concerned. Valentine's Day is a bonanza for restaurants, and if you haven't made a reservation already, it probably means you don't love your special someone very much, and you're going to die alone. But never fear! I am here to assist you with suggestions for creating the perfect romantic evening that does not involve a restaurant, flowers or the possibility you'll get lucky:


Endangered Species Night: No expense spared for your special someone, Valentine! If you know the right people, and you have enough cash, you can dine on Panda steak with bald eagle sauce and rhino-horn soufflé before you can say “Tasmanian Devil!”  Just be sure not to overcook the eagle; it gets stringy if you overcook it.


How the Other Half Lives Experience: Are you sick and tired of watching homeless people have all the fun? Don't you wish you could be as foot-loose and fancy-free as a man riding a train from town to town? Well here's your chance. All you need are two cans of beans and franks, some wood, and a 40-gallon drum in which to start a fire. This works best if you live close enough to an interstate overpass to haul everything there for the festivities. The space beneath the overpass gives things a majestic air. Bonus tip: the same gas station at which you'll buy accelerant for your fire sells remarkably good fortified wine at prices that won't “break the bank!” Hahaha, it's funny, because you don't have any money for a bank, hobo-Valentine!


Roadkill: It's free, and as long as nobody sees you pick it up, you can pass just about anything off as “goat.”


Night of 1000 candles: Instructions: buy 1000 candles such as those used on birthday cakes. Purchase 1000 tiny candle-holders. What's that? They don't make candle-holders small enough to comfortably fit birthday-cake candles? Well, I guess you'll have to make your own, my friend. Start now and you'll be ready for…


Valentine's day in 2015: There's an added benefit: you'll have time to purchase a policy of insurance that will cover you when you burn your house down. You know, from all the candles.


"Chopped" – Home Edition: The play-at-home version of the popular Food Network show in which contestants have a limited time to create meals from “mystery baskets,” is just like the real thing. For your appetizer, you have licorice candy, pickled pig's feet, amaranth and Fernet-Branca. Email me if you make it through the first course with your special someone still in attendance, and I'll tell you the ingredients for the entrée. Good luck, and try not to end up on the chopping block!


This concludes the public service portion of Haute Plates for the foreseeable future. If you think you can suggest better ideas or a romantic meal, by all means tell us in the comments.