As I am French, my friends keep coming to me for advice on their relationships. I will never understand why. That’s just the way it is, I suppose, and I had to learn to accept it. Today was no exception. A friend asked me what the best food for a date was. Me being me, I blurted out that for a date all I would care about would be the after-dessert course. What can I say? I am incorrigible. And French. As I think I shocked him, I decided to give the matter some more thoughts, and eventually came up with a more detailed answer. So here it is: this is what I should have told him.
As you know, it is all question of strategy: if you want the dinner date to drag on in order to have an excuse to bail on him or her because you are tired and don’t want to take things to the next level after the meal, then choose a place where the service is slow, and the food heavy. Obviously don’t blame me if you end up spending the night in the bathroom. It is all about getting your priorities right.
That said, if you really like him – or her-, my suggestion is not to try anything too new or too risky. It is best to keep things as simple as possible. You won’t be surprised to hear that I would go for a French brasserie, something a bit low-key, but with a romantic twist. You want to play it safe
As much as you want to impress your date, I would also avoid food that’s a bit too edgy, like snails, bugs or frog legs (don’t laugh, there are restaurants serving bugs nowadays) and oysters may be romantic but a bit obvious and the sort of thing that wouldn’t look so good when they’ve spilled all over your carefully chosen shirt…. You want to take things one step at a time anyway. And you want to know if he / she is vegetarian or allergic to anything beforehand.
Then, there is the booze issue: should you drink or not? And if so, what should you have? As much as I love a glass of good wine -after all, I am not French for nothing, I don’t think that you should put too much emphasis on the wine. You want to spend a good time together, not get a lecture on wine-tasting by a snotty sommelier. Here is a little trick that I will share with you: a glass of champagne brightens the dullest of meals. Just drink it throughout the meal -personally I like to take little sips from time to time. No need for more than a glass usually. And as you know, champagne is very classy, very French, and goes with everything. You can’t go wrong with a good glass of champagne. No need to ask yourself which wine you should choose: see, I am making your life so much easier…you can thank me later.
That said, would you please go easy on the booze? Even if I totally understand that you are a bit stressed, you don’t want to end up in an alcohol-induced coma after the main course. In fact, if you are too stressed, why don’t you avoid the booze altogether! Take my word for it: you will have a much better time. This binge-drinking culture isn’t very sexy, if you must know. Keep in control please!
Come to think of it, my ideal date would start with a lovely glass of pink champagne. Then how about a bit of smoked salmon with toasted brioche and a bit of sorrel, some baguette, some grilled fish with lush vegetables cooked in butter and, later, a dessert involving chocolate (of course)? If you’re having dessert, don’t have cheese as well. Because it would be too much. I would also avoid anything too full of sauce or seasoning -you don’t want to complicate things and stain this beautiful outfit of yours. Once again, keep it simple. It is all about minimising the chances of anything going wrong.
Remember, food is only a part of the equation, and a bad choice of food, or even a disastrous date might give you something to talk about for a few years. Maybe even decades. Maybe, if things go badly wrong, it is the test that your relationship needed to either become more committed to each other, or go your separate ways.
And if you are still hesitating, how about having just a light bite, and going for a romantic walk wherever you are : in the city, on the beach…Because after all, food isn’t an end in itself. All you want is to have a good time and maybe, just maybe, get lucky. So come on, just relax and have some fun!