Messy and splatter-prone ... avoid spaghetti with a tomato sauce. Photo: Quentin Jones
A common belief about first date food is that messy equals bad. This is nonsense. Messy, within reason, equals good. After you've discussed the finer points of Gelato Messina and Breaking Bad (or whatever your two mutual Tinder interests were) it's good to have something that promotes conversation and laughs. Sticky BBQ ribs, whole crabs and ridiculously sized ice-cream sundaes are great for this. There are, however, some dishes that are a definite no-go on a first date.
You're probably okay with grain based salads but once leafy greens come to the party, it's all over. There are two options here: cut the lettuc-y bits up with a knife (which is silly) or shovel it in and give your best impersonation of a cow put out to pasture. Not a good first date look (and check your teeth for strays in the bathroom mirror, stat).
Spaghetti with a tomato based sauce
Lady and the Tramp has lied to us. First you have to get the pasta onto the fork without looking like a drunken praying mantis. If you can manage that (and well done for getting this far) then you've got to get the food into your mouth without slurping noises and flecks of passata Pollocking your finest cummerbund (it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good shirt will stain it thrice by night's end).
Prawns you need to shell
The above hands-on-food-being-a-good-thing claim doesn't apply to prawns. After a good shelling session you're fingers are going to smell, well, somewhat interesting. There's not enough lemon water in the world to get rid of that odour and it's not amazing when going for big Clark Gable embrace later on.
Garlic heavy anything
Those chewing-gum ads are a load of poppycock. Nothing gets rid of garlic breath, nothing. There's the old adage that if you both eat garlic then the other person can't smell it in on you. Maybe that's true but now is not the time to play MythBusters.
Fellas - if you're ordering a dozen oysters on the first date it sends a clear message that you're not here to talk about favourite movies. Why are you even bothering with dinner, you audacious cad?
Schnitzels, burgers, hot dogs, and so on, that if completed within a time limit you're rewarded with a T-shirt. If I need to explain why this isn't a good idea then you probably shouldn't be allowed out of the house, let alone on a date.
Burgers of questionable structure
Know thy burger. If you can hold the burger in one hand and a beer in the other, we're good. What you don't want is one of those sloppy joe monstrosities that falls apart quicker than the English batting order.
You may think it looks impressive to ask for 'extra hot'. Maybe it is. However you won't look like such a Scoville-scale-superman when you're a sweaty, red mess who would mortgage their house for a glass of milk.
Corn on the cob
Eating corn on the cob with your hands lends itself to about ten seconds of cutesy 'do you prefer the typewriter or steamroller, lol?' conversation. After that its twenty minutes of trying to not look like a starving feudal peasant and two hours of picking kernels out of your teeth.
Have you had any first date food disasters? Share your experiences, or foods you studiously avoid on first dates, in the comments below.
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