Eat Me!


It had been a beautiful evening. The salads had been exquisitely crisp, the lasagna mouth-watering, and the chocolate mousse gratifyingly wicked. The waitress cleared away the last of the dessert dishes as Craig and I stared across our intertwined hands into each other's eyes, suddenly possessed by the very different hunger that had been building throughout the night. "So..." Craig drew my fingers to his lips, "Another glass of wine?"

"Please..." I responded dreamily, basking in the warmth that encircled the pair of us. Craig released my hands and reached for the wine bottle in its cooler. To one side the waitress bustled by, bringing a steaming plate to the latecomers at an adjacent table.

Craig poured the wine, then sat back with his glass in his hand, smiling at me. "To a wonderful evening," he toasted, and I raised my glass to his. At that point something began to waft gently but unavoidably across the table. It was from the next table and the scent was quite unmistakable. Craig's lazy smile disappeared. All colour drained from his face and his eyes went wide. He swallowed hard and returned the glass of wine to the table with a shaky hand. For one long, desperate moment he stared at me in anguish, then he clapped a hand over his mouth and bolted at warp speed for the restrooms. I watched him go resignedly, sculled my wine and sat back to wait.

Gods, I hate parmesan cheese.

It's sort of a cliche these days, going out to dinner with a prospective mate, and often it can be a delightful prelude to further sensual pleasures to come. Like everything, though, it is a tradition fraught with pitfalls. Not only may one fall victim to the perils of parmesan, but many other potential disasters lurk quietly behind the salt shakers or under the placemats of almost every restaurant.

In older times it was customary to allow your date to order for you, something that may still appeal if you've been taken to an unfamiliar eatery or a place where the menu is written in another language. The problem, however, with allowing M'sieur to order for Madame (particularly if M'sieur and Madame do not know each other awfully well) is the constant threat of someone's allergies. It may seem that announcing "I'm allergic to prawns/mushrooms/pineapple/fill in your poison here" might label you as awkward or hypochondriac, but believe me, it is far better than Madame projectile vomiting or falling on the floor choking because M'sieur didn't realise that ginger, or nutmeg, or MSG turns Madame's insides into a ruptured gas main.

Awkward moments and close shaves can also happen when one is not accustomed to the procedure at a particular establishment. Take for example an evening at Zagames in Melbourne. I had slipped off my shoe and stretched my leg across under the table, maliciously tickling Warren in his primary erogenous zone (by the way, the tables at Red Rooster are perfect for this activity). When the waiter arrived with our order I left my foot resting quietly in Warren's lap. I managed to remove the foot (just) before the waiter helpfully took a napkin and placed it on that same lap. Whoops!

Another thing that one must be aware of is the general physics of various foods. On a first or even second or third date, one is always interested in presenting one's "best side" to the person sitting opposite them. To this end you should take great care as to what food you order. Not only is it blush-making to lash out and order something completely new that you end up hating and leaving on the plate, but there are certain foods that spell sure certain death to any stab you might fancy taking at decorum. Foremost amongst these is sweetcorn. On the cob. Dripping with butter. Yum. But, and it's a big but, have you ever, EVER, seen anybody eat corn on the cob without spreading the juices all over their cheeks and dribbling it off their chin? And while smearing food down the cleavage (something we'll get to in a minute) can be a wonderful erotic extra at home, in the middle of a restaurant with a new date it isn't terribly welcome!

Prawns are another first date no-no: prawns, crab, lobster...anything you have to peel the back off first before you can eat it. There's something distinctly off-putting about the tiny, frantic black eyes staring across the table as the whole place resounds to the crunch of exo-skeleton. Also problematic is anything that involves melted cheese, such as nachos. Have you ever tried pulling apart corn chips solidly glued together by congealing cheddar? Better yet, ever tried doing it with a knife and fork, and/or with anything remotely resembling elegance? I rest my case.

Eating at home, however, opens up a whole new area of sink or swim potential. Don't EVER cook for your new paramour without first checking his likes and dislikes! Aside from the aforementioned allergies, it's a bastard to spend four hours preparing a succulent roast only to discover THEN that he or she is a vegetarian! And, if you have any intentions to follow dinner with other activities, don't make the meal too rich or heavy, or all you'll get out of your companion that night is burps and snores.

Now...dessert. Dessert can be FUN. You might not want to unleash what follows on a brand new partner, but once the pair of you have broken the ice and gotten to know each other a little, you might fancy being more adventurous. I'm talking of course about covering each other in sweet, sticky stuff and then eating it off. When this sort of activity is mentioned, the immediate substance that comes to mind is whipped cream. It's soft, light and fluffy, and these days it comes in those inexpensive, handy-dandy "shake and squirt" cans. The problem is that, let's face it, the stuff is basically tasteless. It's bland. And the last thing you want intruding on such a happy endeavour is boredom.

Avoid this problem by playing Dessert Bar. Dessert Bar involves having to hand an assortment of toppings such as cinnamon, chocolate sauce, or any of the interesting edible knick-knacks reminiscient of dessert bars in places like Pizza Hut. This way you have the copious supply of whipped cream to play with, plus the added interest provided to the tastebuds by the toppings. Gather your supplies according to your tastes (and those of your partner), and the rest is up to you! It's also a good idea to do all this outside the bedroom or you'll find yourselves trying to sleep on sheets that are in the process of being kidnapped by the local ants!

An old quote runs, "A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou". Basically that means, "Food, drink and nookie". The staples of life, right? Enjoy your food. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy!