Sunday, 28 January 2018

C12H22O11 SUGAR

As a pastrychef, sugar is your best friend.
Without a doubt we are successful because of our primary ingredient which adds the colour, flavour and sweetness to all that we do.
We use it daily in nearly everything we make in one form or another, sweetener, caramlisation of baked goods, caramels, sauces, candies, decorations and showpieces.

Depending on where you're cooking you either use a lot of it or a little.
Something I never thought possible until I journeyed to Asia and found that the favoured dishes are those with very little sugar and sweetness, this differs to my years in the Middle East where sugar would be the coating to many of the traditional sweets in form of syrups, while sweet dishes stood pride of place for my years in North America as well.

Glucose , Fructose, Sucrose, Lactose,  Maltose or call it plain old sugar

Like our jobs as pastrychef, sugar is complex. It is not just a single ingredient but should be viewed as an ingredient with a million possibilities.

When I first started in Pastry I was fortunate to attend Ewald Notter's original school in Josefstrasse in Zurich and was amazed at how a professional could take sugar from crystal sugar and could form it into the most complex sculptures my young eyes has ever seen.
Sugar was and is just one of hundreds of amazing ingredients we get the pleasure of playing with as pastry chefs.
As a youngster I chose chocolate above all others to specialise in and enjoyed decades doing so, still do.
Recently though our Executive Chef reminded the team NOT TO FORGET THAT AS CHEFS that work was one thing, but that reminding ourselves of old skills and pushing ourselves for new ones - was a key to not only us breaking boundaries in the future, but also to invigorating our team.

As chefs we need to push our selves and our ingredients to new levels to make sure our guests receive the best and nicest dishes we can create and our team needs to be taught skills we may have passed up for new ones, because the basics are from where all creation begins.

And so, we started with sugar, a basic sweetener that can be formed into numerous other potentials in food , for sauces and for decoration and adding fantasy to our creations.  It's been fun and I thought Id share the experimentation we have done.
From Opaline and crystallised sugar discs to balloons of sugar to domes for encasing your desserts, we have all been spell bound by the possibilities this incredible ingredient can be utilised for.

Ill keep adding to the blog as we push sugar further, but in the mean time we are moving forward to other ingredients in an effort to both remind ourselves of skills and techniques we have not done for some time, to newer techniques we need to learn or have been too busy to practice.
Pastry is an evolution of skills, techniques and self improvement. Thankfully we have the support from above to do so.

Until next time, Enjoy and thanks for stopping by.
It honours me that so many countries do, and am humbled when I see so many people stopping by to read and view the blog from as far as Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Philippines, Ukraine, India, France, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada and the USA to name just the most prominent of viewers. Thank you all and hope you keep coming back for more.

OPALINE
A mixture of Glucose, Fondant and sugar. Cooked and cooled and then crushed and seived into shapes or through chablons or stencils and cooked again until clear to create amazing forms for decoration.
Gorgeous feathers of opaline to create Invisible decorations- a touch of understated class and finish.




 CRYSTALLISED SUGAR DISCS
A syrup of 1000g sugar and 400g water brought to the boil and cooled. poured into shaped forms and seeded with fresh sugar crystals, left 24-48 hours depending on your kitchen environment,  the sugar crystallises to form a firm "skin" this can be removed and dried to create a thin gorgeous finish for cakes or desserts.









 THE SUGAR DOME
A technique we have all seen but probably rarely tried. Successfor this remains with the quality of your plastic wrap. We used between 16-18 layers of plastic firm over a mixer bowl, poured just 50g of sugar and then pressed down a cake ring which creates the sugar dome by pushing the air up the centre of the ring. A gorgeous decoration for any cake. I believe the original was created by Cordon Bleu lecturer Jean-François Deguignet and I give full credit to its creator, I'm merely a student learning by others techniques on this one.






THE SUGAR BALOON
Created by ALINEA chef Grant Achatz , again we are merely the students learning the techniques of others and do not attest to creating anything here, other than a mess in our own kitchen attempting success. This is a beautiful creation from sugar, and a testament to the diversity of sugar, a mere crystal of sweetness being blown into a floating work of art.



Monday, 1 January 2018

Evolving !

ev·o·lu·tion
ˌevəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. 1
    the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.


    Happy New Year everyone!!

    I recently had a discussion about "Evolution" with a senior Cheffing colleague, and it reminded me In have not blogged in some time. 
    The death of my mother, took away my regular words and nothing seemed to fit the bill for the 101'st blog entry.
    Nearly 5 years later, time has assisted in my personal "evolution" into what and who I am today, and words have begun to fill the voids within my head. I am not the person I was when my mother filled my life with constant joy of her weekly phone calls, but I am a better me than I have been for sometime. 

    Before I get to those words though, I am pleased that the blog has never actually gone quiet in the years since my regular blogging. 
    Nearly 50,000 views now make me very happy that there is a future here.
    I would truly like to thank those who write to me constantly asking for blog updates and I am sorry it has taken so long. (Anyone who has ever lost anyone, will understand though that some parts of the jigsaw just never fit again after you have been so abruptly pulled apart.). From all over the planet, I am honoured that you read and return for more , I truly promise from now on - to update regularly.

    So today in the continued "EVOLUTION" of pastry and plated desserts  I give you our  best desserts of 2017 which indeed prove that from the previous WHIMS OF FANCY- plated desserts posts, I have indeed evolved already, and  I'll post even more photos of our desserts soon.
    We have a selection of varied outlets and therefore the concepts and themes change regularly, so too do the flavours and ingredients we work with, and the research has just begun for the next evolutionary steps.

    By next year, we will have "Evolved" even further, a current new project guarantees that eventuality.
    Here then are some desserts I am proud of and that have appeared fleetingly or for a period of time at PARISIAN MACAU HOTEL by our phenomenal team of pastrychefs that join me daily on our conquest to turn sugar into mouthwatering dishes. 
    Enjoy and come back soon for words and more.

    Praline cheesecake


    Green tea and raspberries

    Evolution doesn't mean doing away with traditions- it just means they evolve into near perfection - such as this cafe creme caramel 

    Hummingbird on roasted pineapple with lime mint sorbet

    S'mores

    NEW YORK CHEESECAKE



    SEVEN DEGREES OF COCONUT

    ALMOND AND PINEAPPLE "REVELATION"- ALMOND CREME-COMPRESSED CORIANDER PINEAPPLE-ROASTE WHOLE ALMONDS-PINEAPPLE FOAM-PINEAPPLE GINGER SORBET

    DRAGONS BEARD - TAHINI MOUSSE- PEANUT MOUSSE, VANILLA PASHMAK, DARK CHOCOLATE- MANGO

    PORTUGESE EGG TART (EVOLVED) 


    CARAMEL SUNDAE - SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM-CARAMEL POPCORN-CARAMEL SHARDS-DULCEY CHOCOLATE-CARAMEL SAUCE

    BLACKFOREST

    GINGERBREAD CHEESECAKE-STOLLEN SOIL-ARMAGNAC MANJARI CREMEAUX,FRESH FIGS

    CAFE LIEGEOIS - LIQUID NITROGEN FROZEN WHITE COFFEE ICE-CREAM-ORANGE COFFEE GELLEE-YOGURT CREMEAUX-CAFE SABLE-ESPRESSO SHOOTER

    TEA TIME - HONG KONG MILK TEA- GREEN TEA PANN COTTA- GREEN TEA SABLE- OOLONG TEA ICECREAM



Sunday, 6 November 2016

RTMx3

RTMx3

The greatest moment of clarity I have ever known, was right before I died.

I have the honor or, misfortune, depending on how you view it, of belonging to an extremely elite group of people- those that know what it is to die, to remember the moment and to have returned and survived, unscathed.

It was July 2000, Seattle Washington, USA, a quick vacation away from our home in Vancouver, a lunch and coffee and a quick walk on a cold day.

I died from a combination of Anaphylactic shock, an over panicked good Samaritan who pumped an entire vial of epinephrine into my veins and unknowing Paramedics who upon arrival, gave me a full vial of adrenalin.

The combination of everything sent my Blood pressure spiraling downward, while my body high on adrenalin was panting so hard for breath I was burning a hole in my lungs, or so it felt. In the end, as a paramedic stared me in the face begging me to stay with them, I realized within myself how best to stop the intense pain in my lungs. I consciously chose to stop breathing.
As the paramedic spoke ,” BP below 50 , we are losing him”, I stopped trying to breathe.
The pain subsided, peace enveloped the hallway where I was stretchered and a sense of calm overcame the entire melee, I was without pain or fear, it was seductive and beautiful, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “to slip the surly bonds of earth”, and drift away.

My problem ever since is that it was such an amazing experience Id almost gladly do it again, any day of the week. A feeling that has become stronger every year since.
Even now, I sometimes just close my eyes, inhale, exhale and pretend it’s my last. It is freeing, relaxing, clarity.
And there lay the question of the millennium….what is life, if we can’t have the freedom to choose - ourselves - when to die.



 It does not have to be a morbid concept, but sometimes you’re just done with this life and its time. There are days that I confess I truly am, what I have come to term, RTMx3.

I belong to another small group- those who have seen the moment of their parents’ death. I viewed the CCTV footage of the moment that a stroke took the last breathe from my mother and she fell lifeless to the floor. They say some things remain with you forever that most certainly does, there is no rewind or delete in the minds eye.

Death has plagued my life, my best friend killed himself when we were both 20, we both had such amazing lives ahead of us, he lost his - I felt guilt whenever I enjoyed mine.
Suicide, natural death and accidents have claimed the most beautiful people I have had the pleasure and honor to meet, and to love. It saddens me sometimes to the extreme, and depression was a big part of my life for almost twenty years until I took a spiritual walk among the Incas and assailed Maccha Picchu and released the demons that had plagued me, otherwise known as guilt.

Had I not had such an amazing life and career, I may also feel differently. A need to do more, or achieve greater, earn more or to fight for a better tomorrow.

Truth is, my life has been blessed with fullness so much so that I feel greedy at times for the luck I have enjoyed. Twenty six years of Publishing, a solid career as a writer for newspapers and magazines for over 20 years , in addition to my primary career as a chef, investment good fortune and more travel than most would deem believe-able.

Before her death at 73, my mother had found the day to day routine of life to sometimes be dull and tiresome, she often asked me, ”Is this all there is?”. 
My mother was done with life. The one thing that gives me slight peace when I cry from missing her, is that she too was RTMx3. 
She was done living the life expected, caring for another, shopping for the daily goods, surviving until death would take her. 
When it did, I truly believe she was ready and happier to be at peace.
Like anything, these thoughts are not for all
We would not be individuals if we did not have individuality of thought.( and this is a personal blog- Im not asking for agreement, Im stating personal thoughts of me only)

I am not condoning suicide, although I believe it is a horrid name given to an act of freedom and choice we should all be allowed if so desired.
No one is right or wrong, its not that kind of decision or question. It’s a personal thing, that only the individual can know for themselves.

Some decide to wait until the end,; the dying breathe of older age before they relent or agree that time has come, I am just fine today, tomorrow or anytime a higher power so desires.

Some have the decisions made for them by destiny, accident or the hands of others, and then there are us , those who can profess loudly and proudly that we are RTMx3 a breed of people with the ultimate decision known that should tomorrow start without us, then all is good. We lived, we came, we saw and now when time comes, so be it, we are ready for what lay beyond.

We are not insane, we are clear of mind and solid of body, so much so that we are perhaps the best judges of life itself.
For myself, I have travelled widely, seen places of magic and mystery, laid on beaches so clear it is the stuff of others dreams, flown high, flown in balloons and jumped from planes, I have swum deep in the waters of Mexico, gamed fished off Hawaii and dipped my toes in the sands of more shores than most could desire to ever do. I have walked the trails of Incas and Chinese warriors, and seen more famous buildings that my bucket list ran dry before did I.
I have lived a life of freedom due to skill and luck, and throughout it all I have remained at the front end of my career and not yet lagged behind. I am my own teacher and student, and have been blessed to work with the best within my chosen field.
Simply put, I’ve lived more in one life than most. I’ve tired of the race , I’ve tired of the games and the needs of others, Im still forging ahead in the daily duties and requirements but I too wonder the same as my mother asked, “ Is this all there is ?”. 
Work, work, work, save, save, save – for what ? To be the richest person in the cemetary ?
To pass leaving others a treasure trove of condos and cash !

There just comes a time when enough is enough, and decisions need to be made. 
Freedoms sought.
And confessions made.
Like Winston Churchil stated decades before me

“I am prepared to meet my maker, whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me, is another matter”

And so speak I ........ I am RTM x3

I am  READY TO MEET MY MAKER…..at any time he so desires.
And when destiny strikes, Ill shake His hand and simply state, “what took so long?”


I leave you with words of another which I adore to listen to often;

When tomorrow starts without me
And I’m not there to see
If the sun should rise and find your eyes, all filled with tears for me
I wish so much ; you wouldn’t cry
The way you did today
While thinking of the many things, we didn’t get to say

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you
And each time you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too

But when tomorrow starts without me
Please try to understand
That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand
And said my place was ready
in Heaven far above
And that Id have to leave behind - all those I dearly loved
But as I turned to walk away
A tear fell from my eye
For all my life Id always thought I didn’t want to die


I had so much to live for - So much left yet to do
It seemed almost impossible - that I was leaving you

I thought of all the yesterdays
The good ones and the bad I thought of all the love we shared and all the fun we had

If I could relive yesterday
Just even for a while
Id say goodbye and kiss you and maybe see you smile

But then I fully realized that this could never be
For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.
And when I thought of all the things I might miss come tomorrow
I thought of you and when I did my heart was filled with sorrow

And when I walked through Heavens gates
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me from his great Golden throne
He said, “this is eternity and all I promised you”
Today you life on earth has passed
But here, life starts a new
I promise no tomorrow
But today will always last
And since each day is the same, there is no longing for the past”.

You have been so faithful, so trusting and so true
Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do

But you have been forgiven and now at last you ‘re free
So wont you come and take my hand and share my life with me….



Watch the amazing video on this link: (https://vimeo.com/105113459)


Monday, 25 April 2016

Chef's Secretary - the office is now closed.

Chefs are a tough bunch, but there are things that reduce even us to tears.
The loss of a mother, the loss of a friend and the loss of someone who is both friend and mother, confidant and team member.

Today April 25th 4.30pm the Philippines lost someone who was such to many, Marichu Salindong , who had bravely battled cancer for too long, and finally relented to the battle.


Marichu was a strong woman. She had to be.
As Chef's Secretary for 25 years she had seen so many egos come and go. Too many.
Some she liked, some she stood and others she just had to work beside and with.
She was an amazing woman.
Even though I was an expat and newbie to the Manila Peninsula Hotel in 2014 she supported me, told me the tricks to things and helped me when the tricks did not work in my favor.
Sharing an office with one Chef was not easy, but Marichu shared an office with several of us. Tensions at times ran high.
She calmed us, gave us sweets, shared a laugh and turned our moods back in the right direction so that we could go back out and run the domains where were hired to run.

For a long time I never knew Marichu had suffered Breast Cancer before I joined the company. Why would I. She never spoke about it, she had won that battle. When I found out I apologised for some of the tough days I had ranted about. She said," a lot of chefs have sat in those chairs and said the same things, they come - they go and yet Im still here."
She had an unbelievable strength, and her attitude made me realise how replaceable we as chefs, especially Expats truly are.
She was right, we come, we go and while we leave a mark, we eventually are replaced and forgotten about.
Some staff such as her, stay the course and see it all.
She had a Powerpoint presentation which made me laugh, a collection of all the Executive Chefs who had sat in the big chair. We came to talk about the Executive Chefs chair as though it was the same one on Game of Thrones, eventually they all "move on or lose their heads". In my two years we saw five Execs sit in the same chair. Some moved on, some we missed when they departed or just disappeared, some lost their heads and others we wished had.

The one thing I truly took away from working with Marichu was her ability to laugh it all away. Some chefs are just not nice people to work with and yet she could forget their nastiness and words, attitudes and egos and she could still have a great laugh with the next person through the door to the office.
In a message I received from her at Christmas she stated exactly as I felt about her and my own mother, "Remember our morning laughter 😊 bad tempers 😞 and later laughter again, I make you smile Aaron and you too always enlighten my day. I will never forget you".

Laughter is what makes the world go around and the ability to laugh between tough times is key to life.
Marichu and I could always find something to have great laugh about, even about ourselves, and that was what made working in a tough kitchen possible. She made working in a tough kitchen possible.

Since she left work, I did not see her again, we only chatted occasionally on Messenger. Something I feel bad about, but which she understood.
We had discussed in person my loss of my own mother and the depression I faced after that. Seeing Marichu - someone so strong in resolve, debilitated by Cancer yet again - made me cry just seeing some of her photos. Seeing her in person would have been very tough and not something she needed to face.
Chefs have ego's and are a tough breed- we have to be to survive what we go through- but we are just weakened little boys when our close friends are hurting and we can do nothing to help. I wish I could cook up a recipe to help her, but all my training let me down.

Today she has gone to a better place, one without pain and one where there are fewer Executive Chefs I hope to make her days tough.

I miss her daily laughs as much as I miss those of my own mother.
Every kitchen should have a woman as strong as Marichu Salindong, sitting in the Chef's Office.
She made the tough times bareable.
Today the office is closed, the secretaries chair is empty and many people in the Philippines and around the world lost an amazing friend.
Some days remain with you forever.
This is one of them.



Friday, 26 February 2016

Great article from APPY BISTRO (www.appybistro.com) and Parul Khanna. Very appreciative.

Patisserie Perfectionist: Chef Aaron Maree

 
 
 
 
 
 
21 Votes

PicMonkey Collage main AM
It is quite natural to have sweet cravings and it one of the most satisfying feeling for our taste buds to enjoy great desserts but do you ever wonder the person who has created such an alluring dessert for us? A lot of people may not think about it but still there are many who do. Being a chef is not an easy task and being a pastry chef has its own challenges too. To become a pastry chef of highest repute, a lot of hard work and dedication is needed as pastry making or designing a dessert is an art to master. Today we would like to present one such master pastry chef who has perfect understanding of pastry elements and is an ultimate in patisserie perfection.
Meet Chef Aaron Maree, highly successful & highly talented International Pastry chef and a Dessert consultant, highly famous author of more than 15 cookbooks including the world famous cookbook “Arabian Dreams” on modern middle eastern desserts, which won him awards in Paris and with it, he could change the face of Middle Eastern Desserts globally. A vivid traveler & a great teacher.

Apart from that Chef Aaron has won many more awards & accolades, like he has been a “Fellow of the World Master Chefs Society”, has been proud recipient of Culinary Order of Merit, had been awarded Young Queenslander of the Year 1990 by QLD, Australia and Young Achiever Awards 1991 by Channel Nine – Australia apart from receiving an Advance Australia Award for Service to the Food Industry in year 1996. He also happens to be the Youngest TAFE Lecturer in Australia.
Aaron Maree, hails from Australia, highly educated from various prestigious culinary institutes across Australia, France, Switzerland & USA. His professional career started from England where he worked under pastry chef Brian Baker and took him back to Australia again as a lecturer. After teaching for 3 years, he went to New Zealand to work with Death by Chocolate Worldwide. After 7 years, this great chef returned to Australia one more time to be a chocolate consultant with Cadbury Schweppess.
There after he got a great opportunity and he started his full time pastry chef work when he joined Movenpick Restaurants of Switzerland, Canada as a Patissier. After this he started his own patisserie in Canada by the name Dip me in Chocolate which he winded up & sold later, moving on to take another opportunity with Holland America Line Cruise Ships, Seattle USA and managed the entire pastry operations with his team for various cruises, days at length.
PicMonkey Collage2AM
With his excellent pastry knowledge & great experience, Chef Aaron got a great opportunity & a very challenging task to work at Al Rawdha Palace, Kingdom of Bahrain as an Executive Patissier catering to the Royalty & highest dignitaries of the Bahrain, which he handled very well for 7 years, after that he did pastry consultancy jobs with some Boutique hotels and private businesses in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Los Angeles, USA.
This incredibly talented chef was judged & chosen to be one of the top 5 Pastry chefs of the Middle East for 2012 and rated as one of the Top 5 Food Guru’s of The Middle East. Currently with his vast experience & unparalleled expertise, he is handling the entire pastry operations at Peninsula Manila Hotel, Makati City, Manila with his team of 25 people.
PicMonkey Collage1AM
We interviewed chef Aaron and would like to share the same with our viewers as it gives an insight into this great chef’s mind and his pastry passion:
Q: When did you decide to be a pastry chef?
A: I was 13 when I decided cooking was the career I wanted to work. I eventually found a job and was granted a beginner’s role of dishwashing and making garlic bread on the weekends. Weekends eventually lasted weeks and then i was given basic work such as buffet and salad mise-en-place to do. When i turned 14 the kitchen i was working in employed a Danish pastry chef and what he was doing with pastry I found amazing. I requested to work with him and began an apprenticeship in pastry that same year. 
4 years later I would be in London working for Gary Rhodes at the Castle Hotel, Taunton, later I worked at Hambleton Hall under another famed name Chef Brian Baker before returning to Australia at age 20.
Upon returning to Australia I was fortunate enough to find a publishing company interested in publishing a book concept I had and it was received well worldwide and the publishing house offered me a future whereby I published a total of 14 books. My last book with them was published in 2001.
Q: What has been the most rewarding moment in your career so far?
A: Meeting and working with some of the greatest chefs in the world is definitely a major plus of my career. I have been privileged in my career to travel a lot as well seeing 87 countries. But by far the biggest reward was receiving two awards in Paris for the last cookbook I wrote, ARABIAN DREAMS. It was a personal feat of writing, editing and photography and a pet project I wanted to thank the industry that had been so good to me for three decades. When it was praised and awarded it felt great.
To be honest though the entire career has been rewarding. More so than most could dream. I have published 16 books over my career, I have worked as a chocolate consultant to one of the largest chocolate companies, I have worked in franchising on a global level, i have had the ability to travel, have worked for a King and Queen and numerous world leaders, major brands of hotels and been corporate Pastry chef for some major companies. Its a ever changing career and it has been very rewarding all round.
Q: What has been the toughest thing you have done in your line of work?
A: Standing on your feet for thirty years and doing the hours. Its a tough job physically. Thankfully the amazing food we have created among the many teams I have worked with has been rewarding enough.
Q: What advise would you like to give to the new pastry chefs starting out in this field?
A: Do not come into the industry based on watching anything on television. It is a tough job and paid college courses do not prepare you for the level of stress, hours, and expectations of the brigade that you will encounter. I’m not sure that if I started today that even I would last the same thirty-three years I have worked in the industry. I’m very happy to be where I am in my career with the work and skills behind me now, rather than in-front of me.
It is though a fantastic career and allows you to work in so many countries and in more areas than virtually any other job, ships, restaurants, hotels, resorts, islands, stand alone businesses and eventually your own business, and always surrounded by amazing cakes and pastries.
PicMonkey Collage3AM
Chef Aaron Maree is true pastry genius, he has earned a name & a great place for himself in the Patisserie world with his hard work, sincere dedication, absolute passion and un-parallel & unmatched patisserie skills and above all, for sharing his pastry knowledge with the world through his books. He is truly a great inspiration to all the new pastry chefs trying to make a place for themselves in the pastry world.
Cheers Chef Aaron Maree!
Post by: Parul Khanna / Appy Bistro
Picture courtesy: Aaron Maree

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Love is ?

I wrote these words a few years ago now, under another guise and during a different stage in my life.
But the words are still relevant and worthy of a Valentines post.
With the world today, Feb 14th 2016 supposedly back in a Cold War, with tensions running high in numerous countries and fighting continuing in others, with politicians more interested in bickering with each other to win votes than actually solving problems today, with new diseases being found and old ones not yet cured, the words "I Love You" should perhaps be spoken more often to more people and we might find peace in areas we never thought possible, and loved ones might not leave us so soon, or at least not with out knowing how we feel about them.


Love Is ?                                                 


The only successful relationship I ever had, was with food. 
And even then I cheated.

February is about love. Albeit the mass market variety.  
St Valentines Day fills me with angst on so many levels. 
Some people find my theory on love quite bizarre, yet I find it even stranger that we must mark love with its own special day. Surely if love is a spontaneous and all encompassing emotion, it should be celebrated on a daily basis, not just by the marking of a particular day to express our feelings for another.
Perhaps it is a reflection of modern life, that we are just too busy to show emotion, take time out of our all too important daily tasks to remind those special in our lives that they are dear and loved to us? Perhaps if people stopped taking selfies, they might have time for others.

What exactly does St Valentines celebrate anyway? 
The secret unrequited love of a couple never met? 
A burning passion one can never achieve, or is it truly the celebration of a couple who have found true and ever lasting love?
I’m just not sure what kind of love I have felt in my life nor wether I’m worthy of the cards I receive. Does more than one card from different people make me a bad person or just lucky? 
Is it bad to send more Valentines cards than I do at Christmas? 
We do not all believe in Christmas but surely we do all believe in love! And to spread the feeling of love is a far better cause.
True love, unrequited love, pure love, never-ending love, unconditional love, undying love, puppy love, familial love, platonic love or a love that transcends time. When did something so simple, become so mind bogglingly complicated?
Some people seem to find love easy, some find it immensely difficult and others like me, find it perplexing.
I once worked as part of a small team. We were like the four Musketeers; just better looking!  
Our quartet consisted of a youthful Mr. Twenty something, two thirty something’s and myself at forty.(remember I wrote this a few years back)

We were a very stereo typical group of chefs. One in four marriages end in divorce and the elder of the two thirty some-things fit that bill.
The younger thirty something had been in one relationship all his life and was happily married, having found his true love early on.

Mr Twenty something, a young radical with spiky un-brushed hair full of “product” , styling mousse and texture putty was a good looking kid who found the game of love easy, yet the saying of the words immensely difficult.

To round out the quartet there was myself. Forty, single and typical of our star sign Aries.
Aries people have life tough. 
We are by birth, lovers and playboys. Read any astrological page and they tell you we are players of the game; lovers who act compulsively. It’s not our fault. The stars simply align themselves every time we pass a person of the opposite sex. 
A cosmic wave fills me, there and then with love!
It is not a game. It’s very serious. For me, love expresses how I feel. Right then! Right there! I can walk down the street and fall in love every ten feet.
It sounds like fun, but you have no idea. 
A simple task of shopping can take hours and I’ll return home with a hundred new phone numbers.

My therapist says this stems, not only from my star sign, but my size. 
I have and always will be a little on the big side. Since childhood I have known the taunts one can receive for being different. I do not necessarily stand out like a sore thumb, more like a pumpkin on a tomato vine. To say it simply, I felt sometimes un-loved as a child. I know what power this simple word can hold.
Saying “I LOVE YOU” , means far more to hear, than it does to say.

Mr Twenty something , even in a relationship with a person for whom he has “feelings”, finds the word difficult to verbalise. 
His is a set of principals and beliefs I respect from an age gone by, whilst Mr Divorcee never wants to hear or say the words again for fear of the financial ramifications.

But to make others feel loved even for a second, is an amazing experience to share. 
As Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote,” Tis better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all”.
Perhaps if the world could relate to these three little words, like I do, we would have far less wars and unrest. 
We all deserve to be loved and to find love, even if for a fleeting moment whilst shopping.
For me, just to hear the words, to read them, to write them or to type them to another, fills my day with joy.
Imagine seven billion people feeling the way I do. 
It would be like the sixties all over again! Would that be so bad?
Happy Valentines Day and may love find you all where ever you are and what ever your situation.