DINING DARLING: Briana Hallstrom
Over in the kitchen, Briana, our Dining Darling, was waging a serious war with Ryan’s cupboards:
I opened Ryan’s cupboard with every expectation of success. After all, he had been home from his mission for a few months, and with any luck had moved past the fascination with ramen. But what I found left me little hope – a screaming blue box of instant macaroni and cheese. It would have made Ronald McDonald proud. It made me shudder.
It’s not that I have anything against “microwavable” food. Many great meals can come from the frozen food isle in your local grocery store. But when the accompanying side dishes include Doritos and Chips Ahoy!, it’s clear that the pantry shelf needs some help. And in Ryan’s case it was clear that he needed to learn that dining, in or out, is for the experience rather than sustenance.
The ultimate food experience includes many facets. There is basic etiquette, food choice and a little thing I like to call “dining for dating.”
Perhaps we should discuss these points individually in a little more detail. Riveting, I know, but keep those forks and knives in check – if all of you are anything like Ryan was, we have a lot to discuss.
First off, let’s talk about basic etiquette – that’s where Ryan and I started. I realize all of your moms taught you to chew with your mouths closed and keep those elbows off the table, but there’s more to it than you might think. There is pulling the chair out for your date and letting her lead the way in a restaurant.
Also, make sure you keep the conversation interesting but not controversial – the last thing your date wants to do, especially on a first or second date, is dissect whether or not she should watch historically accurate but horrifyingly violent R-rated movies. Your date is not on trial for at least five more dates, so keep it light, keep it fun and captivate her with your proper but laid-back charm. Trust me boys, a lot of work goes into looking casually suave.
As we discussed food choices, I pointed out that a pantry should not resemble the snack food aisle in the grocery store. It’s okay to have treats, but strive for ingredients rather than ready-made meals.
As we’re all college students, I may be preaching to the wrong crowd, but I suggested that he at least try and make Sunday a home-cooked meal day. Here are some ingredients to ponder: olive oil, pasta noodles or a breast of chicken ready for grilling. Right there Ryan could have a meal that would make any girl swoon. Besides, it’s fast, it’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s tasty. And come on, a guy who knows his noodles? Sign me up.
The last area I focused on was “dining for dating,” with Ryan’s choice of restaurant being at the top of the list.
“Now you don’t have to take your date to a fancy place, as it’s not the money spent that she’ll notice,” I said. “It’s the effort that truly matters – the amount of time you’ve put into your date with her.”
A stroll through Wendy’s to “Eat great even late” may be fun when you are with your friends, but not so impressive to the girl of your dreams. You may laugh, but it has been done.
If money truly is an issue, then by all means, go to Wendy’s. But at least make a picnic out of it. Bring a blanket, Tupperware or even a candle. Just try to distract her from the idea that she’s eating a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich on a first date. After all, it’s not as if you have taken her to the fine dining of KFC. Now that’s a good time.
I talked over these issues with Ryan, and he took most of them to heart. He also displayed his newly learned chops when he took his date to a good meal at Brick Oven Restaurant.
They had a great conversation, ate affordable but tasty food and he played the role of the perfect gentleman in every way. At one point, I even saw him eat his pizza with a fork and knife, most likely to avoid dirtying his hands.
Good job, Ryan. You’ve truly done me proud.