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herbs and spices

South Africa, Pretoria, February – Celebrating the month of love need not be about cliched love rhymes and over-priced commercial goods. Why not give the ultimate gift – that of time; and make your loved one or family a scrumptious meal inspired by ‘romantic’ herbs and spices that have been used for centuries as an act of love and affection. According to, mint and marigolds were woven into bridal garlands and bouquets for fertility, brides carried garlic and chives to keep spirits from disrupting their happiness and roses, lavender, pansies and marjoram were carefully combined to create formulas for romantic success and contentment.


Leading hotel school based in Pretoria, the Capital Hotel School share their top 5 ‘love’ herbs and spices and some ideas on what to pair them with for a delicious, Valentines ‘foodgasm’.


  1. Basil

Although one of the more common herbs associated with Italian cuisine, when a young man accepted basil from a woman in Moldavia, he’d be destined to fall in love with her. Use this versatile herb to complement any Italian inspired dish or for something different, pair basil with strawberries, watermelon, oranges or event peanut butter!


  1. Chilli

Contrary to what may seem obvious, chilli actually works as a natural aphrodisiac and this is not because of its rich colours and ‘hot’ reputation but due to the way it stimulates endorphins in the brain which speeds up heart rate and makes you sweat. Chilli has so many versatile uses in foods and is easily added in a variation of sauces, however, CHS encourages you to try using it with chocolate, avocado (with rocket, egg and rye for a scrumptious breakfast or atop sweet potatoes chips as a great party appetiser) or to add a welcomed bite to an ice cream recipe.


  1. Thyme

The word Thyme comes from the Greek word thymus meaning courage however, today is more closely association with affection and is often represented in bridal bouquets. Thyme is often used with white meats but try it with Roquefort cheese and walnuts on a steak or try infusing thyme with dark berries or currants for an unusually delicious combination to use with roasts, in salads or as a meat glaze. “Ronel Bezuidenhout, Managing Director and Principal at Capital Hotel School says, “this pairing works beautifully with a good, well-aged red wine.”


  1. Star Anise

This liquorice flavoured spice is mostly associated with a liquorice sweet or the eastern foods from where this spice originates, China plus various Indian dishes too. Aside from the additional medicinal properties of Star Anise, it also works beautifully with a wide variety of fruits including citruses, pineapple and melon, Cognac and seafood – including oysters.


  1. Cocoa

Ronel says, “Although cocoa – one of the main ingredients in chocolate was bound to pop up when talking about love, we encourage you to try something new with the decadent Valentine’s meal component.” For a multifarious flavour burst, try beetroot and chocolate, a chocolate infused gravy with chilli to pour over red or game meat (like we’ve mentioned above) or try it with bacon as an interesting sweet/salty taste combination.


“Experimenting with different flavours is one of the most fulfilling and engaging lectures we enjoy here at the campus. Share your own romantic flavour partnerships with us via one of our social channels,” concludes Ronel.


To learn how to pair other interesting flavours, visit Capital Hotel School’s website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page.