Greeks l-o-v-e flowers and chocolates as elsewhere. But, as far as Christianity is concerned did you know that Saint Valentine was a loving Catholic Saint not a Crete/Greek Orthodox one? None the less, in Greece the locals and ex-pat residents alike increasingly love to celebrate a romantic February 14th, Valentines Day along with the rest of Europe. Many share a romantic heart-to-heart meal together. In Greece it is cool stuff to present flowers, as it is for a guy or girl to offer expensive chocolates and confectionery as a token of their esteem and adoration for the target of their heartfelt desires.
You may be aware that the Greeks in several recent international surveys have been shown to be the best of lovers. Put another way, the Greeks have been rated the best at expressing their love for each other. February 14th each year continues to be the date you are allowed to send a love note, anonymously or openly, more often than not, today the "Valentines Card". Other Valentine symbols expressing love include the heart-shaped ♥ graphic, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Another Greek connection with Feb 14 is the word aphrodisiac which comes from the name of the Greek Goddess of L-O-V-E, Aphrodite.
If you are looking to spice up February 14th, St Valentine's Day when living on Crete or anywhere in Greece for that matter, then read on.
♥ Artichoke (L - Cynara scolymus, family Compositae) or Globe Artichoke (L - (Cynara cardunculus, same family) - Artichokes originally come from North Africa and grow best in the Mediterranean climate and it is well documented that the French have enjoyed them for a number of centuries. Known for their "l'amour", the French have long believed that woman who enjoy artichokes had a 'tendency to be easily available'. The belief was that consuming artichokes "heats up the body". Modern day medical practitioners recommend that artichokes are not to be taken with coffee. The Greeks during Classic Times also were known to have grown artichokes in Sicily (now part of Italy). Ladies, if you know Sicilian or French men, you are warned.
♥ Asparagus/Spargel/Sparrissläktet/Asparges (L - Asparagus officinalis, family Liliacea (lily family))- Asparagus spears can be of the white or green varieties. The low calory spears contain Vitamin E and act as an anti-oxident. Asparagus is thought to stimulate the production of vital hormones. The Folate it contains is also critical for pregnant mothers, since it protects against neural tube defects in babies. A safe and sensual vegetable!
♥ Banana (L - Musa acuminata, family Musaceae) Yes, the banana flower is phallic shaped, although the word actually comes from the Arabic mauz, meaning finger. There is in Islam, a tale that says that after Adam and Eve fell for the "Apple" they resorted to covering themselves with banana leaves rather than fig leaves to cover their modesty. Is it a coincidence that the banana fruit is rich in potassium, a much needed mineral for procreation.
♥ Cardamon/Kardemom (L - Elettaria cardamomum, family Zingiberaceae) Fascinating attributes from the land of Karma Sutra (India). The ginger related spice contains two androgens (the hormones that increase sexual desire in men) and cineole. Cineole contributes beneficial things to the central nervous system. First grown in the garden of the King of Babylon in 721AD Cineole has for centuries been used in perfume making. For kissing, it is worth knowing that to chew on green cardamoms improves the health of your teeth and gums.
♥ Chocolate - Chocolate goes hand-in-hand with the romantic mood of Valentine's. Of course a popular aphrodisiac, chocolate contains phenlethamine. This is the same substance that we produce naturally in the brain when we fall in l-o-v-e. If you seek more l-o-v-e, then eat more chocolate.
♥ Ginger (L - Zingiber officinale, family Zingiberaceae) Much can be said about this little flavourful beauty from Southeast Asia. Suffice to say the flesh frm the rhizomes (bulbous roots) heightens sensitivity in the right places.
♥ Onions (L - Allium cepa, family Liliaceae or Alliaceae) In ancient Egypt, the high priests were forbidden to eat onions for fear they would stir innermost passions. Not suprising perhaps as the Ancient Egyptians worshipped he onion in the belief that its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life.
♥ Red Peppers/Paprika/Peperoni/Pimiento/Spanskpepparsläktet/Chili (L - Capsicum .. many types, family Solanaceae) The Mexicans know a thing or two about food and romance. The Capsicum has been grown there since 3,000BC. You don't feel hot for nothing eating red or even green peppers. Large Bell Peppers do not contain Capsaicin that is the peppery hot "stimulant". Peppers that do actually promote blood circulation and help with pain relief. Usually Pepper Capsicums contain a potent aphrodisiac. Perhaps that is why the Capsicum is rated as Britain's fourth most favourite culinary vegetable?
♥ Tomato and Pesto/Pestle - Probably the 'must' food on the big day has to be the innocent tomato, with garlic, basil and pesto - a sauce found in so many Greek recipes (for example: pan seared scallops or tuna with pesto and Linguini). We have to thank the Genoans for this recipe. All ingredients combined in the pesto create the 'wow factor'. Tomatoes have anti-oxidant benefits of Lycopene with the ability to help protect cells against oxygen damage - to help keep us younger and fitter; Basil harmonises mind and body through fighting problems with coughs, skin diseases, and intestinal problems, and Garlic - a stimulant, helps with the "feel good' factor fighting off heart disease, high cholestrol and high blood pressure. A traditional Genoan Pesto Sauce also includes: Almonds, Avocado, Carrots, Celery, Figs, Mustard and Pine nuts. They all add to the list of desirable foods on St Valentine's Day in Greece for their diverse properties and folkloric attributes. Strawberries - And oh yes, Strawberries (described in erotic literature as 'fruit nipples' in Champagne, do the rest.
The above list of ingredients is very much a cross section of produce that already is part and parcel of the famous Cretan diet that is reputed to be better for our well being and good health -- even more so than the French diet in preventing heart disease and other ageing ailments. This is because of the combination of copious amounts of olive oil, fresh lemons, and wine taken with bread that contribute to easier digestion and absorption of the food intake.
So now, there you go, you know how to celebrate if you are in Greece on February 14th St Valentines Day with L-O-V-E, chocolates and the Cretan Diet.
© Article: Gerald Brown, of Brits in Crete Portal. who is a resident British Ex-pat staying in Vrahassi, Lasithi, Crete. ♥ Feliz Día De San Valentín ♥ Feliz dia de São Valentim ♥ Felice San Valentino ♥ Ευτυχής ημέρα βαλεντίνων .