When I think of my dating history, I see in my mind’s eye a series of meals, some wonderfully romantic, others not so much. Because dating and dinner are so intertwined in my memory, I bring you, my eight most memorable meals with men.
1. Indian Food In The East Village. My college boyfriend was the first guy to take me out for Indian food, actually the first guy to take me out on a dinner date. We went to a hole-in-the wall place in the East Village complete with a sitar player. This meal was so intense in so many ways. The foreign tastes and my first time truly falling in love. As if it weren’t already overwhelming, my boyfriend was in a wheelchair, so everyone stared at us through dinner. I still can’t eat korma without thinking of him.
2. Salad With Jeff. Included in my recipes for lazy people is the super sexy salad, which was the first meal I shared with my long-time boyfriend Jeff. I invited him over to my place to play cards and he was hungry. We were just friends at the time, but it was the moment that I knew that our connection was easy and relaxed. I just felt comfortable around him. It was the first of many, many comfortable and comforting meals we would share together.
3. A Birthday Surprise. Jeff was really good about planning over-the-top birthday surprises for me (I did the same for him). For my 25th, he took me to our favorite restaurant in LA, Off Vine, a beautiful, little cottage transformed into a restaurant which serves classic American comfort food. You sit outside on the porch which is covered with vines and night-blooming jasmine. It’s just gorgeous, not to mention that the food is delightful. Jeff and I had gone there a few times before for special occasions. Once, on our anniversary, the CEO of his company just so happened to be dining there with his partner and he picked up our entire tab for no reason. Anyhow, back to my 25th. Jeff took me to Off Vine and I thought that was the surprise. But after we sat down and ordered wine, five of my closest friends showed up to join us. Very touching that Jeff had arranged it.
4. Sideways Scallops. After Jeff and I split, I got into a relationship with another guy who was a serious “foodie.” We went out for endless fancy dinners, but there is one I remember most. He took me on a “Sideways”-like tour of Santa Barbara’s wine country. We went to a Michelin-rated restaurant where we had $100 dollar bottles of wine and a $40 plate of scallops cooked in truffle oil. It was such a decadent meal; I had never eaten that way before. It was the first time I remembered thinking that our relationship was like our meal, flashy and decadent, without much substance, costing us far too much … emotionally. I didn’t think it quite so poetically at time, because I was sauced. But I distinctly remember having the irking feeling, deep down in my scallop-filled gut, that something wasn’t right about us … or about spending $300 on dinner.
5. A Home Cooked Valentine’s Day Dinner. I was dating a guy for a couple of months when Valentine’s Day snuck up on us. We were in this weird phase where we weren’t serious yet, but we weren’t seeing other people. David* played the night well by inviting me over to his place for a home-cooked gourmet meal of sea bass and purple potatoes — he was an excellent chef. The night felt really special until we got into a two-hour discussion about our future together. We ended up dating for another four months, but in retrospect I should have ended it that night. But his food was just so good.
6. A Reunion Over Lattes And Oatmeal. There was an awful guy I dated on and off during college. He was an alcoholic and a bastard. When he contacted me 10 years later (clean and sober) and wanted to apologize to me in person, I agreed. We met for coffee and oatmeal before work. I distinctly remember that our lattes were served in giant bowls — bigger than the ones our oatmeal came in — and I felt like an asshole drinking out of a bowl. I was so nervous that I knocked my bowl of coffee over. I ended up being five hours late to work that day. By the end of our breakfast, we were dating again. As you can probably guess, the whole thing was a disaster.
7. Meatballs From Hell. Here’s a fun online dating story for ya! I met up for Italian food with a guy I met online. He seemed/looked normal enough on his profile. In person, he was anything but. After I placed my order for meatballs, he told me that he was wanted for insider trading and awaiting federal trial. Then he went off on how he was writing a book about “how young people should live” and felt that it was “a woman’s job to change diapers.” I’ve never eaten faster in my life. It was the meal that put me off online dating forever.
8. Baby Octopus With Andrew*. My first date with my last boyfriend was at a tiny Thai tapas place on the Lower East Side. I had met Andrew a few days before at the Apple store and he asked me out for dinner. He picked this wonderful place with amazing, exotic food like edamame with basil lime oil, grilled baby octopus, and yellow fin tuna tar tar. I wasn’t expecting to like Andrew (or the food, Thai is not my favorite) all that much, but both he and the meal blew me away with their unexpected depth and flavor. On the stairwell on the way out, Andrew grabbed my hand a gave me a kiss right there. When we unlocked lips, we both looked at each other and said, “Whoa.” One of the best first kisses I’ve ever had.
And now, I eagerly await my next. What was your most memorable meal with a man? Share in the comments! If we get a bunch of replies, we’ll round them up in a post next week!