Thursday, February 7, 2013

Breaking out of the monotony of cooking (and dating)

As guys, we have no problem buying the same pair of brown shoes over and over again. Our closet is lined with dark blue, light blue, royal blue, navy blue, and dark blue (again) of the same shirt in the same brand that we’ve been wearing since we graduated from college. We go with what works, what is comfortable, so why change a good thing?

We do the same thing with dating. The same go-to first date restaurant, the same go-to second date bar, and the same third-date, home-cooked meal. We're creatures of comfort, creatures of habit.

Different girl? Same restaurant.

Another girl? Same restaurant.

Third girl? Same restaurant.

I mean, if there was a frequent flyer program for our "first date" restaurant, we'd be nearing George-Clooney-Up-In-The-Air flight status (sans Vera Farmiga's sultry company).

But something happens when you keep going to the same place - You fall into a groove. And not necessarily a good one. The edge is gone. The excitement is gone. It just becomes another standard first date. And your energy reflects that.

There’s an easy fix though. Just go to another restaurant. Try something new. They all serve beer and wine. They all serve edible food. Looking for some new spots to check out? My girls over at Doing the District have an entire section dedicated to dating locales in and around D.C.

Things get a little more complicated when it comes to cooking, though. Let me explain.

***

A while ago, a girl playfully quipped, "You can cook for me but you can't cook me anything that I've read about on your blog."

She was 98% serious.

Well...balls.

I'm not an executive chef with years of "some" training de Fran├žais. I want to cook in my comfort zone. I need to cook in my comfort zone. However, I understand where she's coming from - It’s not that I've cooked that same meal before, it's that I've cooked that same meal before with somebody else.

The fix?

(Don't write a food blog?)

If it's the first time that you're cooking for her, don't worry about it. You're gonna be nervous (that's good, it implies that you care) and recipe/food exploration probably isn't the best idea. Rest on your laurels and cook within your comfort zone. The adrenaline of your first home-cooked date will provide enough energy. But mix things up a bit. She knows that you’ve blogged about cooking fresh salmon in that Asian soy marinade? Use the same marinade (because its fucking awesome) but use a different type of protein.

And then if you’re lucky enough to cook for her again (now that you're more relaxed), here are a few tips:

  • Follow concepts not recipes - You know that salmon takes 7 minutes to cook. Grill, bake, or saute it. Add lemon and butter or a Cajun dry rub. And then choose 1-2 vegetables from your arsenal of sides.
  • Try something where you have absolutely no fucking clue how to make (but tell her that and do it together) - Donning leather work gloves, I shucked live oysters with a cheese knife right after reading Google search results from "How not to impale oneself when shucking oysters." Some ideas include:

But more importantly (and in both of these scenarios) don't try to re-create memories. Our memories have a funny way of skewing themselves after the fact (positively or negatively). Chances are, if you go to the same place over and over, or cook the same meal time and time again, you're just going to end up disappointed. Don't try to re-live memories. Instead, create new ones in new places and with fresh ideas.