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Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine's Day or Valentine's Day falls on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, often anonymously. The holiday is named after two men, both Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

The day is now most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines". Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

In the United States, the marketing of Valentine's Day has tagged it as a "Hallmark holiday".

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Valentine's Day Cooking Recipes

Valentine's Day Cooking Recipes: Aphrodisiac Foods of Love

Create a feast for the senses with these aphrodisiac Valentine's Day cooking recipes! Give it a try and see where the love leads you...

Chocolate-Dipped Grand Marnier Strawberries


1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and patted dry, stems intact, and thoroughly air-dried
8 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, broken into chunks
1 tablespoon solid white vegetable shortening
1 ounce Grand Marnier liquor or fruited brandy


Prepare ahead: Wrap pieces of styrofoam in plastic wrap for fruit to rest and drip on. You can also use any firm-fleshed fruit, such as cantelope or orange halves.

Pour about 1 inch of water into bottom of a double-boiler and heat to hot but not simmering. Melt chocolate and shortening in top of double-boiler, stirring occasionally until completely melted and smooth. Remove top pot and place on a heat-safe tripod. Let cool for about 5 minutes. While chocolate cools a bit, carefully spear strawberries with toothpicks. Working quickly, swirl each strawberry gently in the chocolate about halfway up the fruit and place inverted on toothpicks into the styrofoam to cool and harden. When done, place in refrigerator to further set chocolate shell. When completely hardened, use a syringe to carefully inject a bit of the liquor into the center of each strawberry, being careful not to over-fill. Chocolate drippings can be stripped from plastic wrap and retained for other uses.

Yield: about 1 pound

Credits: Recipe by Peggy, Home Cooking Guide

Oyster Martinis with Beluga Caviar


60 mL ( 1/4 cup) finely minced shallots
60 mL (4 tbsp) chopped chives
80 mL (1/3 cup) champagne vinegar
45 mL (3 tbsp) cracked black pepper
36 oysters in the shell
Crushed ice
60 g (2 oz) beluga caviar


Combine the shallots, chives, vinegar and pepper to make a mignonette sauce and reserve. Shuck oysters, loosen muscle from bottom shell, then remove top shell.

To assemble hors d'oeuvre: Place the shells on a bed of crushed ice. Place an oyster inside each shell. Top each with a teaspoon of mignonette sauce and a dollop of caviar.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional facts per serving (6 oysters per serving): 50 calories, 4 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium.

Credits: Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen by Culinary Institute of America (John Wiley & Sons Inc)

Many common foods are used as aphrodisiacs

History is rife with the human pursuit of aphrodisiacs in many forms. Scientific tests have proven that some aromas can cause a greater effect on the body than the actual ingestion of foods. Here are some common foods of love used through the ages.

Alcohol: lowers inhibitions and increases confidence; however, over-indulgence has a sedative effect not conducive to a romantic tryst.

Asparagus: three courses of asparagus were served to 19th century bridegrooms due to its reputed aphrodisiacal powers.

Banana: due not only to its shape, but also its creamy, lush texture, some studies show its enzyme bromelain enhances male performance.

Caviar: is high in zinc, which stimulates the formation of testosterone, maintaining male functionality.

Champagne: viewed as the "drink of love," moderate quantities lower inhibitions and cause a warm glow in the body.

Chocolate: contains both a sedative which relaxes and lowers inhibitions and a stimulant to increase activity and the desire for physical contact. It was actually banned from some monasteries centuries ago.

Figs: seasonal crops were celebrated by ancient Greeks in a frenzied copulation ritual.

Ginseng: increases desire for physical contact.

Perfumes: made of natural foodstuffs such as almond, vanilla, and other herbs and spices act as a pheromone to communicate emotions by smell.

Puffer Fish: considered both a delicacy and an aphrodisiac in Japan. If the poisonous gland is not properly removed, the tiniest taste is deadly. The flirt with death is said to give a sexual thrill. Not recommended.

Oysters: Some oysters repeatedly change their sex from male to female and back, giving rise to claims that the oyster lets one experience the the masculine and feminine sides of love.

Radish: considered a divine aphrodisiac by Egyptian pharoahs, most likely because its spicy taste stimulated the palate.

Truffles: probably due to its rarity and musky aroma, it has long been considered to arouse the palate and the body. To sustain his masulinity, an ancient lover in lore was said to have gorged himself to death on Alba truffles during the wedding feast.

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