Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chinese Valentine's Day dinner for two

This week one of Hippocrene's most prolific authors, Karen Hulene Bartell, has a special treat: a full dinner menu in honor of Chinese Valentine's Day. If you can't attend the 2008 Olympics and cheer for your team, you can at least celebrate being with the one you love with this romantic Taiwanese menu.

Says Karen:

Chinese Valentine’s Day occurs on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, usually in August. It’s a celebration for yearning lovers, dating back to a legend about the Jade Emperor’s seventh daughter, who was a seamstress. She fell in love with and married a cowherd who lived across the Milky Way, but when she neglected her sewing and weaving duties, the emperor ordered her home, allowing her to visit her husband only once a year. According to the myth, on the seventh day of the seventh month, crows fly in such a tight flight formation through the Milky Way that the seamstress can walk across their wings to meet her husband. Like the American version of Valentine’s Day, lovers give each other small gifts and flowers, with cockcrow or gi guang (literally “king’s crown”) and gomphrena being the traditional flowers.

Prepare a love feast just for the two of you. Dim the lights. Create the mood as you set the table with your best china and linen. But don’t use silverware. Use chopsticks — and feed each other. Decorate with fresh flowers and lacy paper lanterns. Prepare exotic recipes that traditionally have given rise to romantic ideas.

Hippocrene Cooks will be featuring each of these recipes from Best of Taiwanese Cuisine as an individual post over the next few days, so stay tuned all week!

Chinese cut-out image courtesy of Karen Hulene Bartell.

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