On Valentine’s Day, it is quite common for couples to exchange chocolates as a token of their love and appreciation for their other half. Quite frankly, nothing says “I love you” more than gifting a Valentine’s Day treat to your partner, considering that they are sweeter than chocolate. Today I invite you to travel around the globe with me and take a look at dishes in other countries that couples are swooning over on this affectionate holiday.
Great Britain: Chocolate is still an essential food item for the British, but that is only after loving couples finish indulging in delicious, raw oysters. Specifically, they eat Pacific oysters, which are produced on farms, instead of the native oysters that are available year-round — because regular oysters are just not sufficient for your special Valentine.
China: Valentine’s Day is kind of a big deal in China, considering that the country dedicated a festival to celebrate this special occasion. The festival is called Qiqiao (Qixi), and during this festival, both single and taken women will put on new clothes and pray to the Vega star for wisdom and sophistication (and maybe for Mr. Right if they are single). Of course, it would be neglectful not to mention the delicious Qiaoguo, a traditional pastry at the festival that symbolizes intelligence and ingenuity. The fried pastry comes in various shapes, has a sweet sesame filling and can be given to your significant other, friends and even parents-in-law.
Mexico: Valentine’s Day in Mexico is called “The Day of Love and Friendship”, or El Día del Amor y la Amistad. In addition to sweet candies as alternatives to chocolate, another typical Valentine’s day dish is Pibil Pollo, a Yucatan roast chicken dish with a hint of achiote paste, a popular seasoning in Mexican cuisine. With the bright red color of the achiote, the smell of citrus, garlic and habanero pepper, and the softness of a well-roasted drumstick, this dish is surely going to melt the heart (and taste buds) of your amante.
Italy: Besides being the origin of this heart-throbbing holiday, Italy is also known for its exquisite cuisine. Therefore, one should not expect anything less than visionary from the Italians’ celebration of La Festa degli Innamorati (The Day of Lovers). There are multiple festivals around the country on this day for lovebirds to celebrate their devotion to each other. As aforementioned, chocolate is quite a popular item around the world on Valentine’s Day, but because we are in the country where publicly announcing your endless love is commonplace, chocolate gifts need to be on a different level. A popular variation of Valentine’s chocolate is called Baci Perugina, little chocolate kisses with cherries and love notes inside. Some other dishes that are popular on the Valentine’s menu include the following: Spaghetti Alla Carbonara (pasta with egg, hard cheese and pork), Osso Buco (braised beef with vegetables and broth with white wine) and Penne all’Arrabbiata (penne pasta with signature tomato sauce, garlic and red peppers).
Argentina: Bueno Aires in Argentina is South America’s symbol of romance, and they do not take Valentine’s day lightly. As a matter of fact, they decided to make Valentine’s Day into Valentine’s week! Usually, this week ends with a Friendship Day. Since Valentine’s Day is a relatively new holiday in Buenos Aires, the cuisine has novel concepts. For example, some popular appetizers and meals are empanadas (fried flour pastry with beef feelings), revuelto gramajo (a hash brown dish with cheese, potatoes, eggs and vegetables) and morcilla (blood sausage made with pork, rice and fat).
Belgium: Belgium is famous for its chocolate, since chocolate is an important tradition on Valentine’s Day. But if you want to wake up your sweet tooth with a dessert that is both easy on the eyes, flavorful and full of interesting texture, a Belgian waffle would be the best choice. Belgian waffles are a lot thicker than other countries’ waffles. Made with sweet yeast dough and crystallized sugar on top, the waffles are also more chewy and dense, making each bite better than the next.
Egypt: A popular main dish that is present in many holidays in Egypt, including Valentine’s Day, is called Fattah (beef or lamb meat served with rice, bread and vinegar/tomato sauce). It is more common to have lamb as the protein instead of beef when there is a special holiday. On top of that, Egyptians also enjoy a non-caffeinated drink called rose petal white “coffee.” The drink does not contain any coffee in it — only the juice of a thousand rose petals mixed with hot water and a brown sugar cube. The drink will surely help maintain an intimate atmosphere among lovebirds.
Valentine’s Day is a beautiful holiday that celebrates not only love but also friendship and kinship. This holiday brings everyone closer together and gives everyone a great opportunity to remind their loved ones how much they mean to them. Furthermore, I would like to add that most of these dishes pair well with a glass of wine, but you might not need it — after all, that special someone’s smile is already enough to make you drunk in love.