Dining for love

Babe Scott, the author of Delicious Dating: The Single Girl’s Guide to Decoding Men by Their Wining and Dining Styles thinks that a man’s choice of restaurants and his “dining style" offers clues to his love style. She identifies what she calls “10 Male Food Types”and explains what they mean at the table and in the bedroom.If your dinner dates has left you hungry for love, check out Scott’s unique perspective in our exclusive interview.

DD: Why did you write this book?
BS: I was inspired to write this book to solve the riddle of my disastrous love life, and in the process, the conundrum of men, saving myself and women everywhere from unnecessary heartburn. I was a woman who had spent her life focusing on feeding male appetites rather than satisfying my own. Consequently, I had become increasingly frustrated in my relationships with the less-fair sex, and beyond this my life lacked relish.
If you think about it, women have been conditioned to put men’s appetites and needs before their own for centuries. As a result, I think we have enough collective frustration to light the energy grid. We are not encouraged to embrace our sensual selves or to put a value on our subjective pleasure. Delicious Dating will enable women, as it did me, to change their romantic destiny and celebrate themselves through the staples — and to choose partners accordingly. Women do not live by beer alone. We all need poetry.
DD: Were you able to identify different types of dining daters based
on food or restaurant preference?
BS: Over the course of my research, I discovered 10 Male Dining Types. They run the gamut from Transfat Types to Low-Carb Cowboys to Pretzel Players to Food Sensualists. These dining types are revealed from a man’s food and restaurant preferences, his deportment at the dining table, and also by his whole approach to the date. It is all about how a man seduces a woman’s taste buds (or not). Understanding a Male Dining Type will help you discern a man’s character from his salient traits, to what he is likely to serve up as a partner and lover.
The Dining Types will enable women to work out what flavor of guy is right for them. It will help them make discerning choices that will satisfy their needs, whether for love, or lust, or both. Let’s face it: sometimes we want to sow our wild oats and sometimes to eat rolled oats. It will also help women avoid relationships that will leave them not only dissatisfied but suffering from dyspepsia.
DD: If you have opposite tastes in food, is the relationship doomed?
BS: It depends how far apart you are in the culinary spectrum and how much each of you is prepared to compromise. If your date is a Transfat Type and your preferences are more of a Food Purist or Sensualist persuasion, then I think it’s doomed. That is, unless one of you is prepared to make drastic changes. A Transfat Type, by the way, is as allergic to compromise as he is to collard greens, so you’ll be the one making allowances for his dietary habits — not to mention doing a double share of the housework.
Food goes so close to the heart of who we are and reflects so many other fundamental values that a man whose food preferences are in opposition to your own is likely to make you miserable. Even if you could make it succeed, a relationship shouldn’t be an endurance test. It’s all about being able to take pleasure in each other’s company. Take it from me, as someone who used to compromise my culinary values to please a man, the latter approach is not a recipe for sensual satisfaction. I prefer now to find partners that please my palate, my senses, and my soul.  
It’s a shared enjoyment of the staples that binds a relationship, so it is very important to consider how you bond over a shared meal. A man who doesn’t whet your appetite at the table is very unlikely to whet your appetite away from it.
DD: What is the worse dining mistake a man can make on a date besides the obvious bad table manners?
BS: I think the thing to be on guard against is if a man doesn’t try to woo your taste buds at all. This is an indication that he has no interest in investing in you as a person or getting to know you. This guy just wants to get his basic needs met. This man is most likely a Pretzel Player, a Dining Type only interested in sexual conquest rather than connecting with you. He is only interested in getting you drunk enough to comply with his advances, rather than diluting his efforts with anything that resembles dinner. This Type’s totem food, the pretzel, is the most nutritive content you are likely to get from this date.
A dining date signifies a man’s willingness to get to know you. By serenading your taste buds he is hoping to arouse analogous appetites. He is also demonstrating how he would perform as a lover and partner. This is why the dining date has always been such an historic part of courtship. We all know a man’s brains are hardwired to his penis, and dining together forces his neurons to take the scenic route rather than the express route. The romance of a shared meal forces him to engage his head and his heart, not just his loins.
Even if a guy is lacking in finesse but makes an effort to excite your palate, he might be a keeper. The men to watch are the ones who couldn’t give a kebab about courtship.
DD: Are men turned-off by women who don’t eat or who are too picky or critical?
BS: Men are really turned off by women who are picky or critical. Guys find it a real turn-off when a date orders something that’s not on the menu or only orders a salad sans dressing, which she then picks at as if it was as appetizing as lint. There is nothing alluring about a girl who eats nothing and doesn’t take joy in her appetites. They are also turned off by women who are overly critical. No one wants to go out with someone who has all the animation and appreciation of a waxwork.
It’s nice to express appreciation if a guy is making an effort to woo you over dinner. Even if a date is not to your taste, there is normally some kernel of deliciousness you can salvage from the evening. And it is always an opportunity to learn more about what you do and don’t want. Dating is a journey of self discovery, and every date brings you closer to finding out what your perfect male dish is.
DD: What are most and least romantic types of restaurants?
BS: This depends a lot on your own preferences. I don’t believe love or romance is a generic formula but, like cooking, it’s about working out the recipes that work for you. Some women might be totally excited by the idea of going to an unknown bolt-hole and enjoying a cuisine they’ve never tasted, whether it be Ethiopian or sautéed silkworms (a dish I tried on one of my more adventurous dates), while others might be find the thought of more unusual dishes completely unappetizing.
Some women like sampling extravagant fare and telepathic waiters at renowned restaurants with Five Star Men. Others like reliable mom-and-pop restaurants that feature traditional dishes with a Steak and Two Veg Type. And others prefer organic fare with a Purist who preaches the same food creed. This is why it is a good idea to taste-test the testosterone smorgasbord to find your own version of romance. It’s all about what tickles your own palate when it comes to men and menus.
DD: Should you cook a man dinner – and when?
BS: I believe that a woman should let a man woo her palate before she starts feeding his. The sexes are wired differently. Men are hunters and women are nurturers. It is important to let a guy demonstrate his caring side, before you start playing the role of homemaker. Remember, your courtship is a portent of things to come, and if you mother him from the start, you will probably find yourself fetching beers and vacuuming under his feet later on.
Let him put his best fork forward and find out who he is before you even think of cooking — and then make the food about sensuality, not domestic servitude. Many women make the mistake of trying to cook their way to four carats, but this is only the way to become part of the wallpaper very quickly. Let him win you, and decide if you want to invest in him.
Beyond this, I wouldn’t advise cooking for a guy or letting him cook for you, unless you are ready to go to bed with him. It is a very short trip (or a three-course one) from the kitchen to the bedroom. If the food is delicious, it’s pretty hard to resist the appetites that are aroused. If you do invite him home, be prepared for the sparks to fly.
DD: Who pays for the date and why?
BS: Again, there are no hard and fast rules. A Five Star Man will insist on paying, but a Gourmet Gigolo will look out the window while you pay. It depends what you are looking for in a man and a relationship. These are important things to flag early on. I think it is less about the amount of money a man spends than the effort he puts in that is really worth noticing.
Having said that, I think that if you are romantically interested and the man has asked you on the date, it’s fine for him to pay. It’s all part of his investment in getting to know you. My own rule of thumb is to pay for myself if I’m genuinely attracted to him. I also pay for myself if I’m not, so that I won’t have to try and elude his puckered lips later.

Happily ever after?

According to Michelle Cove, the author of Seeking Happily Ever After, many women today are redefining the meaning of personal happiness. No longer does a rich, full life necessarily mean marriage and children. In her book and documentary film, she examines the lifestyle variations  of  modern woman. She also discusses how to find your own definition of ‘happily ever after’. The book has good tips for dealing with the other peoples’ expectations – well meaning or not – when a woman isn’t happily married by 30. Whether you are a single woman or the mother or friend of one, do not miss a word of this illuminating interview.

DD: Why did you decide to write your book?
MC: I’d gathered three years of research about single women and their needs, having created the feature-length documentary seeking Happily Ever After: One generation’s struggle to redefine the fairytale (www.seekinghappilyeverafter.com). The film is meant to ask questions and provoke viewers. But I wanted to go a step further and try to answer some of the questions that came up during interviews, such as: “How do I know what I even want for myself when everyone says marriage is the answer?” And practical questions including “What will I do if I need medical care and am alone?” or “How can I protect myself financially as a single woman?” I hope women will see with this book that their concerns are completely normal and there are concrete things they can do about them.
DD: Do you think women have a hard time knowing what they want or like in a lifestyle or relationship because they have been programmed to think they need to be married or in a relationship
MC: Absolutely, we still live in a society where weddings are considered the finish line. Even though there are more single women than ever, most still feel the stigma that says there is something wrong with them because they aren’t on the path to marriage and babies. But it is slowly changing. I am meeting more and more women, for instance, who feel they can voice the fact that they don’t want to have children – and it doesn’t mean they don’t like children. It’s starting to become a valid option.
Michelle CoveDD: Why do women like bad boys so much, even when they have been hurt by them?
MC: Well, certainly there are women who unfortunately don’t feel they deserve better for themselves for whatever emotional reasons. I think, too, there are women who simply seek drama and excitement because their lives are feeling a little flat. Bad boys get the adrenaline going. But there are so many smarter ways to add excitement – travel, sign up for a class you’re passionate about, apply for a challenging job, learn how to rock climb. Bad boys are all effort, no payback.
DD: Do you think that single women today are stigmatized?
MC: Definitely. In fact, this year Live Science conducted a study about this topic. Researchers interviewed 32 middle-class, never-married women over age 30 and found that these women feel they still have to justify why they are single. I think a lot of married people still see single women as a project and want to “fix them,” which is just ridiculous! In the book, I tell readers that there is no need to play along with being someone’s project.
DD: Why do so many women seem to have a hard time finding “good” men to date, when they want to date?
MC: I think a lot of it has to do with figuring out what makes a good man for YOU. Much of my book is centered on helping women understand why they are attracted to certain types of men and how that is working out for them, and figuring out what kind of men might be better for them. It’s easy to “fall hard” for an attractive guy. It takes much more thought and effort to make wise choices about who to date and then make sure to keep your eyes open. It’s actually the opposite of “falling.”
DD: Are many women prepared to be single – financially or emotionally? Do we educate women for this option?
MC: Financially, yes – at least among the college-educated women I interviewed around the country. There are more women in college today than men, more women buying their own homes and establishing careers for themselves. Emotionally, I think we can better prepare women for being single. In both my documentary and book, I encourage women to really think about what “happily ever after” looks like to them today as adults, and teach them how to tune into their own needs. The more women learn to do this, the better their chances for being fulfilled -and this is true for both single and married women.