Rather than focusing on the awkward choices of lighting your home or what to talk about, this study is purely about what kind of food is deemed the most date-worthy. I've asked cookbook authors, chefs, artisanal food-makers, and other folks somehow obsessed with food the exact same question. After taking in their wise answers, I've found several trends that are compiled into a top-five list of meal choices below.
Other trends to note might be the types of foods not mentioned by the guests. All told, none of the meals sounded very complicated to make. Nobody had much to say about offal, except for Julie Powell, who thought chicken livers were pretty hard to beat. And no one uttered the word “hamburger” once. It's interesting that many of the women I interviewed blurted out a red meat, while men often leaned toward lighter foods and fresh salads. This is all a highly unscientific model, based on responses from my friends and colleagues in the food world. Should you dare listen to each episode (don't), you might come to the same conclusion about what makes the hottest date as listed here.
5. Oysters, Sushi or Another Succulent Seafood
Several guests thought oysters should be somewhere on the menu for the ultimate date meal. These are not only known aphrodisiacs but I've found make a fun DIY food when you bring them home on ice to shuck with friends. Cool and slippery sushi was mentioned by chef Danny Bowien, for its unique texture and the fact that it won't make you feel too full. Caviar and salmon roe are also texturally stimulating, those little bursts of liquid exploding in your mouth when you bite. Perhaps one of the sexiest seafood treats is sea urchin roe, or uni, an incredibly custardy, orange-colored sack. It's thought to be a powerful stimulant for men, and the extra ovum are sure to make ladies feel especially fertile, too. Maybe uni isn't the easiest thing to find reliably fresh for the home kitchen, but lots of tasty seafood is, like mussels or a beautiful fish fillet. Making sushi at home is also easier than it sounds, and you can always make it with veggies if you're worried about your seafood's quality.
4. Roast Chicken for Two
Homely, perhaps, a roast chicken is something you can leave to the oven for the most part, leaving your hands free for other tasks. It's also a safe bet when you don't know your date's exact taste preferences, allowing that he or she is not a vegetarian. Melissa Clark shared her thoughts on what makes this a great dish to enjoy in the company of someone else: “You pick it apart together... gnaw at the bones and pull off the succulent pieces of meat.” Watching how someone dissects a fully-cooked chicken for his or her enjoyment is indeed a window into their soul. Do they hesitate, use a fork or discard the skins? Or do they dig in and get greasy, leaving no meat clinging to their bones? Also fun is playing the old wish-bone pull together, which could make or break (no pun intended) your future together if that's what your wish is about.
3. Make-Your-Own Pizzas
A few guests alluded to making something from scratch that takes a bit of work, but becomes fun once you both participate, and named pizza as a great example. The dual cooking is key, because you get to test out your teamwork and interact. “It can be a little uncomfortable at first, but it's a really good way to break someone out of their shell,” said Josh Greenfield, another pizza date-meal fan. Everyone loves pizza, and you can customize your toppings anyway you and your date choose. Plus, any meal that involves really using your hands, as with kneading and stretching out pizza dough, offers a glimpse into how, um, ambidextrous your date is.
2. Bloody-Rare Steak with Potatoes
Fast, easy, and satisfying, a rare-cooked steak is like a great one-night stand. And making great steak, like love, is all about the finesse – touching the meat as it cooks to judge how well-done it is, letting it stand so that its juices trickle lightly once it's cut into. It doesn't take much effort otherwise to pull off this main course, but it will set you back a bit on cash. In any case, it's much cheaper, and more personal, than ordering the same at a restaurant. Share a good bottle of red to go with it, and splash some with the pan juices to create a simple reduction sauce. Mash some potatoes and serve a vegetable side. Your home will be transformed into the best steakhouse in town, all at a moment's notice.
1. Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce
Pasta with a simple tomato sauce took the cake for the most mentions among the 100+ guests. Perhaps it's our collective memory of Lady & the Tramp, but the classic comfort food proves that simplicity and unpretentiousness win big-time here. For a date, you can try a little harder than your weeknight average by making your own fresh pasta, too. Blogger Jennifer Perillo suggested a papardelle or some other rustic fresh noodle, which will give the meal a more handmade touch. “The most important key is that your dough needs to rest before you roll it out... It's kind of like love itself; sometimes you meet someone and see sparks at first, but it takes time to grow, to nurture and develop and to recognize all those great qualities about a person.” Likewise, time and patience is crucial to developing the glutens in the dough.