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The month of February brings a variety of things: the end of the bitter cold, the Lunar New Year, and other holidays and celebrations. But what it is perhaps most famous for is, of course, being the season of love! While we experience love all year round, one special February day allows us to especially enjoy it with the people we hold closest. That’s right; I’m talking about February 14 — Valentine’s Day! With candies, stuffed toys, and flowers aplenty, Valentine’s Day is the one holiday a year when romance is celebrated across the world. Valentine’s Day calls for dates, presents, and the sweetest of moments — and what makes a moment sweeter than food? Oftentimes sumptuous and indulgent, Valentine’s food is truly one for the books.
There is a popular saying that the best way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, and the market for Valentine’s food is definitely aware of that. How many boxes of chocolate or candy do you see flying off the shelves this romantic weekend? From bottles of champagne to the finest of steaks, Valentine’s Day is an excuse for couples to go all out and indulge in the finer things in life. Valentine’s food can be sweet, savory, or salty; it comes in all shapes and sizes and suits every preference. Depending on where you’re from, Valentine’s food can look quite different. But the message behind each delicious dish is the same; you don’t need words to say I love you. You can say it through food!
What do you eat on Valentine’s Day? Let’s take a trip around the world and find out!
The typical chocolates and candy aside, Valentine’s food encompasses a wide variety of dishes. Around the world, the love for food (and other people) manifests itself in a myriad of ways. From Europe to Asia to Africa, how we show our love through food may be different, but no less beautiful. Take a look for yourself and see!
Egypt: White “coffee” — coffee without caffeine!
In Egypt, the direct translation of “I love you” is “ana bahebak.” More than just words, Egyptians often show their special someone love by brewing them this white “coffee”! Now, I use quotation marks here because — funnily enough — this drink isn’t coffee at all. Instead, this Valentine’s food consists of a mixture of hot water and rose water. The rose water is usually made from thousands, and sometimes even millions of rose petals; doesn’t that just scream romance? Sprinkle some sugar into your white “coffee” and you have a refreshing treat for your special someone. It may not keep you awake, but it will make your partner feel special and loved.
Italy: Baci Perugina — chocolates that say a thousand words!
Italians are quite the soulful people; they feel things deeply, and express it just as grandly. Large and public displays of affection are already quite common in this romantic country, so it only makes sense that on this day of love they would rev it up! Italy’s “La Festa degli Innamorati,” or Day of Lovers, wouldn’t be complete without some scrumptious Valentine’s food. From Italy emerged the sweet and romantic myth of the Baci Perugina. These special chocolates were flavored with cherries and contained a multilingual love note within each bite. It is said that the person who had invented these chocolates had fallen in love with someone, and snuck love notes into the chocolates for when he would test them. Your love story may not be as romantic as a myth or fairytale, but it doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
China: Qiaoguo — love comes in different shapes!
Interestingly enough, the Chinese don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in February like most of the world does. Instead, their celebration happens six months later, in a festival they call Qixi. Based on a popular Chinese love story between a weaver girl and a cowherd, both single and taken women go to temples and pray to the celestial lovers. Among the things they pray for are wisdom, elegance, and a good and doting husband. After the prayer is complete, they get to snack on the Valentine’s food commonly present at these festivals! Qiaoguo, a deep fried pastry, comes in many different shapes. But the sweet sesame filling makes it a treat, not just for yourself but for your friends, partners, and in-laws.
Mexico: Pibil Pollo — for friends and lovers alike!
Who says Valentine’s Day has to be all about the romantic kind of love, really? Certainly not Mexico! In fact, people from this country refer to this day as “The Day of Love and Friendship.” The connections we forge with our best pals are those beyond compare, and we should give them just as much importance. That’s why Mexico’s Valentine’s food, Pibil Pollo, is one both friends and lovers can enjoy! The bright colors of this dish, as well as its intoxicating aroma, make Pibil Pollo truly unforgettable. Whether you’re serving amor or amigo, they’re sure in for a treat!
No matter where you are in the world, Valentine’s food is always something to look forward to. What do you and your loved ones like to eat on Valentine’s Day?
What should I cook on Valentine’s Day?
Usually, restaurants become fully booked from the weekend leading up to Valentine’s Day to the actual day of. After all, who doesn’t love the idea of dressing up and looking good for that special someone? Indeed, enjoying a romantic date night is definitely one of the past things about this happy day of hearts. But what if you could find a way to make your Valentine’s even more special? Valentine’s food is always delicious, but it would be even more memorable if you made it together! Cooking is one of the most intimate shared experiences you can have with your partner, and what better day to try it than today?
If you’re looking for a romantic night in, these Valentine’s recipes are sure to brighten up your evening. And if you’re not seeing anyone or enjoying the company of friends and family? You can still make these special meals with them! Trust us; you’ll be sure to feel the love in every bite!
There’s a perfect Valentine’s food for everyone — no matter your background or your budget. To help you out, we’ve taken the liberty of listing down options from one to three peso signs, depending on how much you’re willing to indulge on this day of hearts. Regardless of what you make, however, it’s the thought and heart you put into it that counts!
Valentine’s Food by the Budget: One Peso Sign Treats
You can never go wrong with a tasty pasta dish. Simple and understated yet elegant and flavorful, any Valentine’s date can be made better with some al dente noodles. With aromatic basil and sweet sundried tomatoes to boot, this Valentine’s food is sure to be refreshing on your palate. Furthermore, if you’re sharing it with your special someone, well — romance movies have taught us a thing or two about how a bowl of pasta can bring anyone together! Enjoy this dish with some garlic bread, too, for that extra yumminess.
Keep up with the trends of today and make this sushi bake with your Valentine! This Valentine’s food will be a great experience for you two to bond and satisfy your stomachs. Sushi bake has become immensely popular among burgeoning home cooks in the country. Perfect for date nights when you want to get a little creative, just be sure that you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty!
Valentine’s Food by the Budget: Two Peso Sign Treats
Level up your pancit canton favorite with some sumptuous and juicy garlic butter shrimp! This Valentine’s food is the perfect blend between comfort food and something more upscale. The yummy, flavorful garlic butter shrimp goes perfectly with your savory pancit canton. For an extra treat, top your dish with a fried egg, too! You and your loved ones will definitely enjoy this twist on a popular Filipino classic.
Buttery, rich, and insanely tasty, you can’t go wrong with a baked salmon! This dish isn’t popular solely as Valentine’s food; creamy baked salmon is also a welcome guest at any holiday party or family gathering. And really, what’s not to love about it? The cheesy sauce that coats the top of your baked salmon is one that makes your mouth water simply from the sight of it. Pair your dish with some nice fresh veggies and wine, and you’re in for a treat!
Valentine’s Food by the Budget: Three Peso Sign Treats
Really — is there any Valentine’s food as timeless and classic as steak? We don’t think so! For those who want to go all out on Valentine’s Day, you can never go wrong with a perfect piece of steak. Juicy and tender to the point that it melts in your mouth, a New York strip steak is the meal to impress. This piece of meat goes insanely well with any greens of your choice; I recommend sauteed spinach! And of course, a nice bottle of red or white wine will definitely get the romance rolling.
You can’t not take advantage of all the fresh seafood our country has to offer! These broiled lobster tails are a step up from your usual crab dish. And best of all is that they’re tasty for sure — especially when you brush them with your lemon butter sauce! I love lobster and its rich, plentiful meat; I’m sure your special someone will too. Pair it with mashed potatoes or some simple yet delicious pasta, and you have yourself a Valentine’s winner!
Last but not least, any Valentine’s food trip wouldn’t be complete without a sweet treat! To top off your romantic (or even platonic and familial) evening, desserts are all but essential. Try these Red Velvet Cupcakes or Strawberry Angel Food Cake, and you’ll see what I mean.
Valentine’s food, no matter the budget or preference — no matter what it is, as long as you’re enjoying it with loved ones, it’s bound to be special. What’s your favorite thing to enjoy on this Day of Hearts? We’d love to know what you think in the comments below!