The Mexican St. Valentine’s Day

The roots of Valentine’s day can be traced back to ancient Rome and started as fertility festival held in mid February.  Later the church adopted the holiday to Christianize the holiday. Not much is known about who St. Valentine was and there is evidence that there was more than one Christian cleric named Saint Valentine. Ya se, ya se… boring history lesson here today……let’s get to the good stuff and talk about love!  Around the 1300’s this holiday was associated with love and romance because it was believed it was the start of mating season for birds, imaginate! Over the next several centuries the holiday grew, spread and evolved into what we celebrate today.

Since one of my favorite topics is talking about family, food and traditions this holiday is right up my alley!  In Mexico, February 14th is celebrated as El Dia del Amor y la Amistad; which is not just a holiday for couples to celebrate their love but also an opportunity to show love and appreciation for other important people in your life!  It’s still a celebration of romantic love pero en nuestra cultura it goes beyond that because it also serves as a day of appreciation of love as a whole.

Although many consider Valentine’s Day to be a commercial holiday y quizá es verdad, we Mexicans have enthusiastically embraced it and enriched it with our own traditions and ideas of how to show love to those around us.  Each year more than one billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent, 35 million heart shaped boxes of chocolates are sold and more than 220 million roses are produced!  That is a lot of tokens to show love! Whether you are going to celebrate by giving greeting cards, flowers or candy there is no escaping the fact that food is at the center of this celebration of love.

A simple card or text to a friend, a sweet treat sneaked into your child’s back pack before they leave for school, a favorite pastry for your parents or sharing a romantic meal with your beloved are all powerful expressions of your love for those blessed enough to be part of your life.  Even though this special day to celebrate love may be the day the most roses are sold it really doesn’t take anything more than saying Te quiero to friends and Te amo to those closest to you.  These simple words son poderosas!

Julia Child once said, “Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” Oye, those are powerful words, no?  Food has the power to support, comfort, nourish, sustain and yes…..even the power to seduce….aye!  Food is life’s ingredient that binds us together and helps us express love in its preparation and sharing with those around us.  That is the power of food and expressing love through food is a cause for celebration no matter what day it is.

Mi abuela always said, “toda comida es rica cuando esta preparada con amor” and since cooking is an expression of love and Valentine’s Day is also an expression of romance I wanted to share some Mexican ingredients that are said to help inspire romantic love;

  • Chile in it’s many shapes and sizes is the ultimate Mexican cooking ingredient and often associated with the libido….híjole!
  • Chocolate the most popular Valentine’s gift of all also with highly prized during the days of the Aztec empire for its mood lifting agents… guiñar el ojo.
  • Passion fruit is rich in vitamins A and C and in Oaxaca the pulp is mixed with mescal to make cocktail that inspires love…cocktail anyone?
  • Tomatoes are native to Mexico but, did you know that they were promoted as an aphrodisiac by the French who called it the “love apple o la manzana de amor.”
  • Vanilla is one of my favorite ingredients and its said that its lovely scent is a mood enhancer…pruébala!

The most important things to me in life are family, traditions and love.  I love food and being able to use it as an expression of my love and sharing that love with others is one of the things that makes me the happiest.  Life without Mexican food is no life at all!  Amores, every day is a good day to express love through preparing and sharing food, spending time together and keeping our traditions alive. One thing is constant in that we are surrounded by love in our work, through our friends and in our families.

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