A Taste of Valentine’s

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Coctel de FrutasPublished in Revue Magazine, February 2014 -by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard.   Valentine’s Day brings people and the community together in celebration of love and friendship, especially in Guatemala. As a young adult living and working in Guatemala, I have fond memories of celebrating Día del Cariño (Day of Affection) with friends and colleagues in simple and special ways. As a young adult holding my first serious job after graduating from school, the company where I worked felt more like home than a place of work. My coworkers were an extended family to me and I looked forward to going to work every day. During special celebrations, good wishes, donuts, and coffee were delivered from desk to desk and throughout the day people stopped by to express their appreciation saying “Felíz Día de la Amistad y del Cariño” (Happy Friendship and Affection Day).

Valentine’s Day’s origin is uncertain. In ancient Rome, the Romans celebrated the spring feast of Lupercalia on February 15 (a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture and to the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus), which the Christian church disliked. Around the end of the 5th century, the story goes that the church declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day to celebrate Christian martyr St. Valentine in an effort to Christianize the pagan fete. The romance associated with Valentine’s may come from the medieval belief that birds mate in the Spring. Although Valentine romantic greetings were popular in the Middle Ages, written notes did not begin to appear until after the 14th century in England. It was also in England where the custom of sending flowers, chocolates and candy was born and the celebration gained momentum in the 19th century when printed cards began to appear in England and America. Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide and in the US, it is one of the largest celebrations along with Christmas and Halloween and is a multi-billion dollar industry.

revue mag logoIn Guatemala as in other places, February 14 is not only a special day for lovers and friends; it is gaining speed in commercialization. Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity that businesses and companies are using to capture market share with creative strategic marketing campaigns. Jewelry stores, restaurants, flower shops, candy and chocolate houses, and other businesses compete for consumers’ attention during this special day, which has grown in consumerism in the past few decades augmented by the power of social media.

How about a simple love note, phone call, romantic home-cooked meal, and a sweet “I love you”?  What is the future of all the highly commercialized special celebrations honoring family, love and peace? There is nothing more precious than family. Often times we miss the true meaning of things in the midst of a sea of mega campaigns that bombard us in every which way via digital technology blinding us to the fact that the purest matters in life are free, like love, friendship, and affection. We can rescue the intended meaning of Valentine’s. We just have to make a small effort to get closer to our loved ones, drop the technology for a bit, pay attention and reach out and actually touch and hug someone. 

Speaking of simple things, here is an easy recipe for a fun, delicious and festive cocktail to enjoy with your special Valentine.

¡Feliz Día de San Valentín!

COCTEL DE FRUTAS-Fresh Tropical Fruit Cocktail

 Serves 2 to 4 people

 Jugo de Frutas (Fruit Juice)

1 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup dark rum or sweet wine (optional)

Cubos de Frutas (Fruit Cubes)

1 cup diced papaya (1/2-inch cubes)

1 cup diced pineapple (1/2-inch cubes)

1 cup diced kiwi (1/2-inch cubes)

 Adorno (Garnish)

2 to 4 skewers (3 to 5 inches long)

Strawberries and blackberries

Mint sprigs

Edible flowers

 1. Combine the tangerine and lime juice with the sugar and whisk well to dissolve. Add the cinnamon and rum or wine and whisk to combine. Chill.

2. In a bowl, combine the fruit cubes. Chill.

 3. Divide the fruit into 2 to 4 attractive cups and pour equal amounts of the juice on top of the fruit.

 4. Skewer the fruit as desired and garnish the fruit cups with the skewers, mint sprigs, and/or edible flowers.

Amalia’s Note

If you like, serve this dessert with berry coulis. Serve the coulis on the side or pour it into the cups after the juice but before the fruit cubes (similar to a tequila sunrise). To make berry coulis: Purée 1/2 cup blackberries, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon lime juice, then strain the mixture.