For many, it is hard to believe that we are already in the second month of the year, February! Haven’t we only just emerged from the fog of Christmas shopping and overindulging in delicious treats? That said, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and if you’re not ready to spoil the one you love, you may regret it! It seems that time marches on without a thought for our pockets or expanding waistlines, ahoy the next reason to celebrate, Valentine’s Day!
As South Africans, it’s safe to say that we love an excuse to get together and have a good kuier! Besides, who can say they don’t enjoy the anticipation of choccies and a sneaky glass of bubbly right in the middle of our New Year’s resolution diets? So, we say, bring on the Valentine’s Day treats, fire up the braai and pack the picnic basket with your favourite South African snacks; it’s time to celebrate with the ones you love!
Valentine’s day vs. commercial giants
While many see Valentine’s Day as another way for the commercial giants to make copious amounts of money, it can also be a chance for couples, families, and friends to stop and express their love for one another. And in today’s world filled with uncertainty, now is the time to show the ones you love just how much they mean to you. And what better day to do that than with a Valentine’s picnic?
A little heartthrob history
Celebrated on the 14th of February every year, the tradition of Valentine’s Day goes back as far as the year 496! This proves that Valentine’s Day has been around for a very long time, no matter what the love Grinches say! We all enjoy a good love story, and those that carry the most weight are the ones filled with passion, secrecy, unrequited love, and of course, romance. That said, the one surrounding Valentine’s Day delivers in a big way! So, grab the biltong, droëwors, dried mango, and Salticrax, and gather around – it’s story time!
According to history, folklore, or legend (take your pick,) Valentine’s Day is named in honour of St Valentine. He was a Roman priest who lived in the third century AD. The story states that Emperor Claudius ll had banned marriage because it made for bad soldiers, probably because it made them less bloodthirsty with a wife and kids to worry about at home! This didn’t stop St Valentine, who would help lovelorn couples marry in secret, something the emperor was furious about when he found out.
Poor St Valentine was sentenced to death, as was the norm for upsetting the emperor in those days! But the story doesn’t end there. While imprisoned, St Valentine found time to fall in love with the jailer’s daughter. On the day of his death, the 14th of February, he wrote her a love letter which he signed “From your Valentine.” And the rest has been history for centuries!
Valentine’s day around the world
While most cultures celebrate the day of love with chocolates, gifts, and cards, some cultures have slightly different traditions to celebrate their love!
- South Korea
Couples celebrate the day of love on the 14th of every month! Saffa chaps, you have some catching up to do here!
On the 14th of February, young couples marry in a large gala event sponsored by the government. No costly weddings here!
In addition to the standard roses and chocolates, friends and family exchange handmade cards containing pressed snowdrop flowers.
The 14th of February is known as friendship day, where couples, singles, family members, and friends exchange gifts to celebrate love.
Traditions may vary slightly, but the common theme is always a celebration of love and new life represented by the arrival of spring. Of course, in SA, any excuse to haul out our favourite South African snacks is good – so on the day of love, we love to eat! Which brings us to our Valentine’s picnic recipe.
Valentines picnic recipe
Tempting those romantic taste buds when trying to impress the ones we love can prove a little daunting! However, check out our romantic baked biltong squares. They are sure to add that ‘wow factor’ to every Valentine’s Day picnic basket and we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re soon your favourite South African snacks!
What you need
- Baking tin approximately 36x26x5cm
- 260 g self-raising flour sifted
- 125 g salted butter cubed
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ½ tsp thyme
- 250 g grated biltong (dry biltong)
- 180 g grated biltong (dry biltong)
- 20 g fresh chives finely chopped
- 1 large free-range egg beaten
- 50 g grated cheddar cheese
- 25 g grated parmesan cheese
- 25 g blue cheese
What to do
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and mustard powder in a large mixing bowl. Then add the grated biltong, thyme, and cayenne pepper.
- Add the butter cubes and rub them into the dry ingredients. Then slowly add cold water, mixing until it forms a thick, stiff dough.
- Roll out the dough on a floured, flat surface or cutting board using a heavy rolling pin. The dough should be about 2.5 – 3 cm thick when rolled out.
- Transfer the dough to the greased baking tin.
- Brush the dough with the beaten egg mixture using a basting brush.
- Mix all the ingredients for the topping mixture and sprinkle evenly over the basted dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 220 C, then remove and allow to cool before slicing into squares and popping them in your picnic basket!
Serve with a delicious glass of bubbly while seated under the magnificent African sky!
Of course, there’s plenty space in your picnic basket for a little bit extra, so stash a few packets from none other than Nik Naks South Africa. Add some droewors, dried mango, Salticrax, and South African beer to the mix and you have a winner picnic basket! And the best news is that you can get most of these South African snacks online in SA and abroad – now that’s a V-Day win!
While fancy dinners and expensive presents may be the norm, remember you earn extra brownie points for making an effort to spoil the one you love with their favourite South African snacks and picnic treats!
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