Last year I put together a romantic yet healthy 3-course meal to commemorate love’s favourite day, but this year I wanted to something a little bit more insightful.
We all know that red wine and chocolate covered strawberries are North American Valentine’s Day staples, but how do people on different continents use food, drink and chocolate to woo their loved ones on the most romantic day of the year?
Not necessarily an easy question to answer, but the one I chose to tackle for today’s article.
Fortunately I was able to utilize my social media following to get in contact with individuals from all over the globe and gain valuable insights about Valentine’s Day traditions from some of the most romantic countries in the world.
While many countries have adopted the traditional western approach to Valentine’s Day, there are still quirky and charming traditions to be uncovered that you could use to really charm your sweet heart.
And while you may not be able to take the love of your life to Paris on February 14th, you sure can treat her to a Parisian inspired Valentine’s Day menu or pull inspiration from a different culture all together.
Believe me, the thought will count and you will win some serious creativity points too.
Valentine’s Day Food Traditions From Around The Globe
France – Arguably considered the most romantic country in the world, I spoke to a Parisian to determine what she considered an exceptional Valentine’s Day meal.
Among some traditional selections, she noted that Shrimp with white chocolate sauce and mashed cauliflower would be rated very highly because of how challenging the dish is to prepare. Fancy a challenge gents?
Japan: The Japanese culture teaches us one very important Valentine’s Day lesson. In Japan, it is customary for the woman only to provide chocolate to the male ( an act the male partner will reciprocate on another date) but what makes this special is that the chocolate is expected to be home made, as an exchange of store bought chocolate is not see an act of true love. Feeling inspired? Here’s how to make your own chocolate.
Italy: Is making your own chocolate outside of your comfort zone? Don’t sweat it, the Italians have you covered. Yes, the standard box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day may lack creativity, but Baci chocolates by Perugina actually have romantic messages written within the foil wrap.
Fun Fact: Baci actually means “kisses” in Italian.
Germany: This may surprise you, but in Germany pigs represent luck and lust and are considered a quintessential Valentine’s Day symbol. With that knowledge in tow, you could hardly be blamed for bringing home a chocolate pig for your partner this year. The initial shock will quickly turn into laughs when you explain that the pig is a Valentine’s Day staple in one of Europe’s biggest nations.
Lebanon: Lebanon is considered one of the most romantic countries in the Middle East and so it should come as no surprise that Valentine’s Day is a big deal there. The Lebanese identify strongly with their cuisine and a romantic home-made dish from this part of the world would be a sure winner and something your partner might not have otherwise expected.
Mexico: Although the Mexican Valentine’s Day is heavily influenced by western traditions, heart shaped Cupido (Cupid) lollipops fill the streets on February 14th. If you want to do something fun for your family or co-workers, order a bag of these online and spread the love.
Holland: Ik Ben Gek Op Jou! I really like you, in Dutch. If you want to do Valentine’s Day like the Dutch do, send a chocolate gram with a very special message to your beloved. Whether or not you send it in Dutch or English though, that is completely up to you!
Ghana: If you are planning to give chocolate to a loved one this Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be important to let you know that Ghana happens to be one of the top cocoa producers in the world. If you want to make a real statement this year, consider purchasing Divine Chocolate, which is the only 100% Fairtrade cocoa company co-owned by farmers.
Oh, and if you are wondering about the health benefits of chocolate, check out our article from last year on that very topic.
My hope is that today’s article will inspire you to do something different for Valentine’s day this year while also enhancing your understanding and appreciation for the different ways this very special day is celebrated in cultures around the world.
The only thing more romantic than being romantic, is being well a well-informed, creative romantic.
I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
Andy De Santis RD MPH
Andy is a Toronto-based private practice dietitian and nutrition writer/blogger. He also holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Toronto. If you are interested in learning more about Andy and his services, or you’d like to read more of this nutrition content, you can do so at AndyTheRD.com.