A SundanceTV Original Series

Confessions of a serial restaurant dater

“Do you need help?” My date asked.

I shook my head. “No, I’m good – I do it all the time,” I answered brightly. I leaned in closer, examining my target carefully as I adjusted the white balance on my camera. Holding my cell phone light in one hand and my camera in the other, I zoomed in on the shrimp-topped squid ink pasta noodles and carefully snapped my first shot. And then a second. And then another from a different angle. Finally, after several more shots, I set my camera down next to my wine glass and looked up with a smile.

“Ok!  Now we can eat!” I announced.

It didn’t occur to me until later, when my suitor failed to call me for a fourth date, that he might have just been being polite when he asked if I needed him to hold my cell phone for me. At the time, I thought he was into it – the whole food blogging thing. I thought he thought it was totally awesome that I took pictures of everything I ate. And not weird or mortifying at all. Quirky. Cute. Fun.

It wasn’t the first time my bizarre fixation with food had gotten me into trouble on a date. There’d been the guy who’d asked me to pick which of the last two pieces of a shared pizza I wanted. Seemingly a gentlemanly offer, except one of the slices had been decidedly larger and I was still hungry. Instead of daintily taking the miniscule sliver like most delicate females on a date would, I’d taken it upon myself to cut off a piece of the larger slice to make the amount of pizza perfectly even.

I thought I was being impossibly clever. That he would appreciate my clear enthusiasm for eating. That he’d see me as a breath of fresh air. Quirky. Cute. Fun.

He never called me again.

Nor did the guy who I made wait 45 minutes so we could eat al dente pasta at the hot Italian restaurant I’d selected for our date.

Girls aren’t supposed to care about food. They are supposed to order salads, dressing on the side, and then push the leaves around their plates. They aren’t supposed to request the lamb tagliatelle verde, finish every bite and then use their bread to sop up the extra ragu. They are supposed to smile and nod appreciatively at everything their date says, not snort when he reveals he’s never had gnocchi before. They are supposed to worry about getting spinach in their teeth, not worry about getting the right lighting to capture the amuse bouche.

Dating is already a mortifying experience; but add food blogging to the mix and it becomes impossible. The obsessive, crazy part of myself that isn’t supposed to come out until much much later, is immediately on display the moment we step into a restaurant. Even when I don’t take pictures, even when I pretend that I don’t care at all about what’s in front of me, it’s still there, lurking. It comes out when I ask the server whether she prefers the duck confit or the braised pork belly. Or when I ask the sommelier to pair something with my dish. Or when I clean my plate and stare suggestively at my date’s unfinished ribeye.

With one glance, it’s over. I’m outted. I date restaurants, not men.

I’d like to say that I care, that when another potential relationship goes up in liquid nitrogen smoke, I feel compelled to change. I don’t. Because the guy I ultimately end up won’t care that I take 15 minutes to figure out if I’m going to order the branzino or the sea scallops. He’ll think it’s quirky. Cute. Fun. And not mortifying at all.