I started dating someone recently. A nice guy, very intelligent, kind, with a penchant for baked goods and peanut butter with chocolate. Our first official date was dinner. Since he agreed to sushi I thought he liked it, but at the restaurant he demonstrated some discomfort with the menu, only ordered a very generic maki roll and when we were done was quick to suggest a bakery around the corner with exceptional black and white cookies. Okay, I’ll say it, I’m a foodie – one of those people who obsessively loves good food. I’m adventurous – not only in what I eat, but what I cook. I love fresh foods and only consume processed boxed foods when absolutely necessary. And I love trying new things. As a foodie, I like to share my food, I think eating should be an experience as much as it is a function necessary for life.
Yet despite his apparent disinterest in food, I agreed to a second date with Ari and he agreed to an Ethiopian restaurant. During dinner he took a few sips of the honey wine scooped up a little doro wett with the injera and made delightful conversation. So I was utterly torn. Do I continue this budding relationship? Here was a great guy in a lot of ways, but without any interest in one of my greatest passions – food. So there were a few more dates. But, seeing the contents of his refrigerator for the first time again almost had me running out the door. Slices of processed turkey, mustard, moldy strawberries and milk way past its expiration date it. In his cupboard he had packets of some sort of “meals”-in-a-bag (just add water!) double-stuffed Oreos and powdered drink mix.
So began the challenge of finding something that we both liked to eat. One evening I brought over a bottle of Israeli wine, a nice crusty bread, a variety of cheeses and some white anchovies. I spread some Brie on slices of bread, sautéed some leeks and laid the oily plump anchovies on top. Delicious, but Ari said it scared him. So it got me thinking. Could I really have a relationship with someone who was not just ambivalent, but actually fearful of the things I loved?
I hadn’t thrown a dinner party in quite a while and my CSA box promised to be plentiful that week. I was also motivated by a recent Slate article that poo-pooed the concept of the CSA. (The author apparently doesn’t know the joys of having friends around your table for a meal of seasonal farm-fresh food.) So I spread the word and planned my Moroccan inspired menu. The day of the dinner party I spent blissfully in my kitchen. I slowly simmered a robust lamb stock (later adding quince and the choice bits of lamb for a tagine), baked fish in a tomato coriander sauce, tossed grated carrots in lemon juice, minced garlic and cumin, marinated beets in white wine vinegar and a dash of sugar. I even ground up some celery and apples for a fresh gazpacho as a pallet cleanser after my guests snacked on blue potato latkes smeared with pearsauce (you know like applesauce but made with pears) as an appetizer as we sipped warm spiced apple cider with rum.
The dinner was wildly successful. The food was some of the best I think I had ever served despite the near disaster with the Moroccan flatbread (I had forgotten to bake it earlier that day, but a wonderful friend offered a hand even though the guests had already assembled). Ari showed up early so I put him to work slicing oranges and tossing them with julienned red onions. He was a good sport and was charming and affectionate towards me in front of my friends he was meeting for the first time. During dinner he even said he liked the lamb and asked for seconds, but he was also the first one to leave that evening. As much as I may like him, I’m just not so sure this is such a good fit. I had thought that a foodie and a non-foodie could make things work, but now I’m not so convinced.