A first date can be a nightmare of anxiety. You want to make a good impression, so you agonize over what to wear, or you rehearse intelligent things to say. So for God's sake don't ruin it all by ordering some foolish food at dinner that is likely to make you a source of comedy or embarrassment for the rest of the night. What are these danger foods, you ask?
We've helpfully compiled a list of the Top 10 foods that any sensible person should avoid when dining with a new companion. And don't let the title of this post fool you. These rules are in force for every meal until you and your partner first hook up, and they apply just as much to business meetings.
10. Spaghetti Yes, we all saw Lady and the Tramp, but that was a cartoon and they were dogs. In the real world, spaghetti is a romantic deal killer. There's nothing remotely sexy about watching you Hoover up wayward strands of pasta or listening to the constant screech of your fork against spoon or plate. And by the end of the meal, that hot outfit you're wearing is guaranteed to be splattered with flecks of tomato-basil sauce. You still want pasta? Order the ravioli.
9. Soup No matter how delicious, it's a dating disaster. Like spaghetti, it's impossible to eat gracefully: the slurping, the backsplash. Good lord, if you want to make a fool of yourself just stick the flatware up your nose and be done with it. When your server asks, "Soup or salad?" the answer is salad. Always.
8. Veal There's nothing difficult or embarrassing about eating veal. The problem is it's made from calves raised in crates the size of a shoebox. Depending on the politics of your date, ordering that osso buco is basically like saying, "I believe in torturing baby farm animals." It's a conversation starter, sure. But not a conversation you want to have.
7. Garlic Here's a surefire way to guarantee your date ends in a handshake instead of a kiss: Order the garlic shrimp. Or the garlic bread. Or the pizza with garlic. Ain't no amount of furtive breath mints gonna mask your stanky breath. Not tonight, and probably not till Tuesday.
6. Watermelon, corn on the cob Admittedly these don't come up much on first dates. But if you're getting together at a picnic or a friend's backyard barbecue, better keep these off the list. In the history of the world no one has eaten a watermelon without looking like a slobbering goof. And if you're looking to impress a date, avoid food that requires you to slide your face across a buttered surface and is guaranteed to lodge kernels so deep into your teeth you can't remove them with hydraulic tools.
5. Ice cream cone A refreshing little cone of Double Chocolate Oreo Mint might seem adorably romantic on a summer day, but it's a disastrous idea for three reasons. First, your date will be judging you from the get-go (Does plain strawberry mean she's too conservative? Does bubble gum prove he's immature?). Second, the minute you step outside, the laws of thermodynamics become your implacable enemy, and your rapidly melting Raspberry Mocha Swirl turns you into a frantically licking moron. Which brings us to reason three: On any first date, avoid foods you have to lick. No guy needs that kind of pressure. No woman wants that kind of attention.
4. Spinach dip, tabbouleh, pesto sauce You say you've climbed the highest peaks on five continents? You recently returned from rebuilding Haiti? You just sold the film rights to your novel? Doesn't matter. You have a little green leaf stuck between your teeth. You're a doofus.
3. Burgers First of all, on a first date, never order food you eat with your hands. Hamburgers are messy. After three bites your arms are covered in a revolting slime of mayo, grease, and special sauce, and your tomato is hanging precariously from the back of your bun. If you're lucky it will land on your plate. Second of all--burgers? Really? Why don't you just announce to your date: "I am not a provider."
2. Barbecue, chicken wings, fried chicken What did we just say? No hands food! You may love a good plate of ribs or buffalo wings, but by the time you're finished you'll look like a 3-year-old in a high chair. You could try using a knife and fork, but then you'll just look like a priss. No. Hell no.
1. Mexican, Indian, Szechuan, Thai food What? This is nuts, you say. Whole categories of dining off limits? But think for a minute: What do all these foods have in common? Spice. And what does spice lead to? Come on, we've all been there: You're out with someone you like and respect, eating Thai food just the way you like it--hot and spicy--when all of a sudden you're seized with dread, and you realize: It's begun. A slow rivulet of snot is inexorably descending from your left nostril. It doesn't matter if you catch it in time. More will follow. Rivers. Gushers. Your nose has become the Deepwater Horizon of mucus, and no napkin on earth can help you now. You start snorting like a hog. You pray your date will look away so you can wipe your sleeve. Please! you beg to the patron saint of dating nightmares. Just look away! Nice going, Romeo. You'd have been better off with the veal.