First dates can be hard. You’re nervous, you don’t know what to wear, and you hope you haven’t been Catfished. When you finally do settle on an outfit choice and head out to the restaurant, you’re desperate to make a good first impression.
Luckily, things seem to be going well. Caught up in conversation, you order a spaghetti dish with marinara sauce before truly thinking through the consequences. When it arrives, you realise you’ve set yourself up for an additional challenge: the spaghetti strands aren’t twirling well onto your fork, and you’re being forced to slurp up stray, dangling ends that invariably leave a few drops of red sauce on your white shirt in the process. It’s not a pretty sight.
How can you avoid a situation like this? Perhaps if you had considered your menu choice a bit more, you would have saved yourself a whole lot of awkwardness. We spoke to international etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore to get an idea of the top foods to stay away from on a first date. Read on for her full list of messy meals that could turn your night from great to grim.
As mentioned above, red sauce can lead to all kinds of unsightly issues. Instead of marinara, it might be wise to go for a light cream sauce or a touch of oil -- just be sure to spare the garlic.
This upscale dish may sound like a good idea, but the challenges involved in eating a full lobster are not ones you want to have to deal with on a first date. 'Be mindful that someone else is watching your table manners,' Whitmore said. It's not exactly easy to be graceful at the table when you're cracking, ripping, and digging your way through a tangle of lobster legs.
This might seem like an obvious no-no, but the problem with corn is that it sometimes arrives as an unexpected side dish. Fortunately, you can side-step the horror of corn in your teeth in a few different ways: you can (politely) cut the corn off the cob, or just 'eat everything except that,' Whitmore advises.
Although the iconic scene from 'Lady and the Tramp' may have you believing that spaghetti is romantic, the popular Italian staple comes with a plethora of perils. Cutting it doesn't really help, and eating one string at a time will take forever. If you do find yourself staring into a large plate of the stuff, proceed slowly and deliberately, and make sure to use a large spoon to help you twirl it onto your fork. Good luck.
These can just be a bit chewy and hard to cut. If you're really craving meat, the filet mignon might be a safer bet.
'It's all about the ooey-gooey cheese,' Whitmore said. 'Once you bite into the cheese, it leaves a long string from the plate to your mouth, and that's definitely awkward.' Save the hearty French specialty for another night.
Besides being a little casual for a first date (unless both parties are major KFC fans or something), fried chicken just doesn't make for an elegant or refined eating experience. Go with its grilled cousin for a more sophisticated vibe.
This also goes for tacos, burritos, and massive burgers. That meatball parm hero may have sounded like a good idea at the time, but now it's in front of you, and you have no idea how to fit the thing into your mouth. Luckily, Whitmore has a quick fix for this food faux pas: 'If you do order a club sandwich, maybe pick up a knife and fork and cut it,' she suggests. Although it might seem like an odd thing to do, spare yourself the dangers of simply chowing down. Your teeth, your clothes, and your date will all appreciate it.
This is another pretty self-explanatory no-no. As tasty as a large rack of ribs may be, the evidence will end up all over your hands and face, and that's a total turn-off. If you are seriously desperate for the dish, however, you can always use your utensils to cut the meat off the bone. Or, observe your partner. 'If you have both ordered the same thing, and the other person is eating with their hands, then you can eat with yours -- you can both be messy,' Whitmore said.
Unless your date is on Super Bowl Sunday, just avoid the chicken wings -- they present many of the same problems as ribs, and are usually even less utensil-friendly. 'Put some thought into ordering,' Whitmore emphasises. 'You're not at home.'
No matter what you order, table manners are a very visible part of who you are, and a major deciding factor in whether or not your date will want to see you again. 'Don't chew with your mouth open, talk with your mouth full of food, drink too much, or eat too much or too little,' Whitmore said. Additionally, don't be rude or inconsiderate to the waitstaff. 'That tells a lot about your personality,' she says.
To sum it all up, just be calm, cool, and collected. If you put some thought into your menu choice and your behaviour, you'll be able to focus entirely on the person sitting across from you.
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