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BITES : The Love Diet I

February 08, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

Valentine's Day is a good time to meditate on the delicacy and refinement of modern romance as exhibited in cookbooks. Take "Food As Foreplay: Recipes for Romance, Love and Lust" by Ellen and Michael Albertson (Alexandria Press; $14.95). As you might expect from the title, the book reads like one of those long Cosmo headlines ("If the sizzle in your relationship has started to fizzle, or you're looking for a new playmate to grease the gears of love, pull out the frying pan and heat up your love life") with recipes. They give none for dessert, they write, because "you are the dessert."

The Albertsons, a registered dietitian and a restaurant chef turned stand-up comedian, call themselves the Cooking Couple. They have a mailing list and give an address for you to send them your personal romantic recipe. But don't bother to send them one for pasta alla puttanesca, because they have already included one in this book (elegantly translating the name as "hooker pasta").

The Love Diet II

Another approach to l'amour et la cuisine is "The Better Sex Diet," by Lynn Fischer (Living Planet Press, $14.95). Fischer, co-author of "The Low Cholesterol Gourmet," cites evidence associating elevated cholesterol with male impotence and gives three weeks' worth of low-cholesterol menus.

Apart from the recipes and elementary nutritional information, the book includes testimonials from satisfied users of the recipes, general advice on healthful lifestyle and an overview of supposed aphrodisiacs. So "The Better Sex Diet" is basically a low-cholesterol cookbook with a racy angle, although we're not sure how many people are going to be turned on by the fact that the foreword is by a professor of urology.

The Love Diet III

Santa Monica is in a Valentine's food mood too. For all of February, and in some cases with extra items on Feb. 14, 25 local restaurants are participating in a deal called February Is for Lovers. "Settle into a warm, bubbly baked Brie crested with house-smoked salmon," it says here. "Cap the evening with a sinful souffle gently dusted with blush of passion fruit puree."

OK, it's silly, but some of the best restaurants in Santa Monica are involved, including Abiquiu, Border Grill, DC-3, I Cugini, Remi, Rockenwagner, Schatzi and Zenzero. With every purchase, diners will receive either 15%- or 25%-off tickets to "Beauty and the Beast," depending on the day of the week you want to see the musical.

Tea Sniffer Update

In October, it looked as if the 99-year-old Board of Tea Examiners, often cited as the classic case of a federal agency that just keeps going and going long after anybody wants it, had been eliminated by a provision in the Agriculture Department funding bill. We wondered, and we were right to do so. It turns out the board, which costs taxpayers $200,000 a year, survived after all--even though both parties and virtually all members of Congress say they want to abolish it.

Last week Sen. Hank Brown (R-Colo.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) got a bill through the Senate specifically to abolish the thing. "Under this measure," said Brown, "Americans will be responsible for determining for themselves what tea they like and don't like."

"We don't have a coffee board or a candy board," observed Reid. "We do not need this tea board."

The tea-sniffing-snuffing bill now goes to the House.

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