Cooking & Fooking: Advice for those Who Indulge in Food and Love

***I’ve been on two dates with a super smart and good-looking man. Both times we went out for dinner, and both times he has dropped me off at home without even a kiss. We talk almost every day, and we just get on so well. I know he’s into me. So, I invited him over for dinner next week just to make sure that this time I get him upstairs. I figure we can cook together?

Now, I’m freaking out because I cannot decide what to make. I want it to be something we can make together, and I want the whole experience to be sexy so that he has no excuse but to end the night with a kiss or hopefully more.

Truthfully yours, Wine Always Helps Female, 28 Columbia Heights, D.C.***

Dear Wine Always Helps,

First of all, I would like to preface this response by saying: Don’t give up. Men with personalities like the one you described sometimes need more coddling. On occasion, these are the ones actually worth the extra care-giving. Inviting him for a home cooked meal is exactly the right thing to do. Brava.

Cooking together can be one of the sexiest experiences between new lovers, and I highly recommend it. Besides, he’ll get to see you in an apron and it will remind him of his mother, or the mother he always wanted. Whether they like to admit it or not, men always want their mommies. Even the gay ones.

In the beginning of a new relationship, it is always best to partake on mini-adventures together in order to build up a lasting rapport. Sitting at a restaurant or in a dark movie theater is for wimps. If you really like this guy, then it is time to show him how fun you can be, how comfortable you are with yourself and how well you can feed him — if you know what I mean (wink, wink.)

When he arrives at your place, you’ll want to have the main dish ready to go and focus on assembling a nice appetizer plate together. Most importantly, you want to get started right away. Have some lively music playing in the background, offer him some wine or beer, hand him an apron and immediately put him to work. Believe me, he’ll appreciate it, and it’ll certainly lighten up the atmosphere of initial awkwardness. Besides, men need jobs. Period.

The meal: An Italian Antipasto and Spaghetti Puttanesca.

Why? The salty meat and cheese of the antipasto will facilitate more drinking. In the first hour or so, this is necessary in order to soften the mood and relax you both. Yet, most importantly, the Puttanesca sauce is filled with aphrodisiacs such as capers, hot peppers, garlic and anchovies (don’t worry: they completely melt within the sauce and the fishy flavor is lost.) Also, do not be scared of getting sauce everywhere or not being able to eat spaghetti properly. This time, and this time only, let it splatter! Not the time to be shy.

Hopefully, with the vino and pasta sauce stimulants, the Puttanesca will earn its name and by the end the night the spaghetti will be on the floor and you on the table. Yes!

You: Prepare the sauce for the Puttanesca before he arrives and leave it covered on the stove. The best part about serving a tomato-based sauce is that you can have it ready when your guest arrives and then simply boil the pasta when you are both ready to eat.

You and him: Plate the ingredients for a simple, but always impressive antipasto dish. Give him a cutting board and ask him to arrange a variety of cured meats and cheeses upon it and slice up some bread. I recommend you purchase a thinly sliced San Daniele prosciutto and some duck salami. You can find both of these items at Cork Market on 14th Street in the District, but Whole Foods, TJ’s or Wegmans will also have a great selection of meats. As far as cheese goes, I like cubed Parmigiano Reggiano. If it’s too dense and stinky for your taste, try an Italian Fontina or a Mozzarella di Bufala. For an extra kick, add some grapes, figs or pitted olives in a bowl. Arrange nicely, please.

If he doesn’t kiss you after this whole production, then he’s either gay, insane or he’s just not that into you. Either way, preparing a meal like this is just practice for the future meals you’ll prepare for your future lovers.

Here is my favorite recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca:

Ingredients 8 anchovy filets (canned) 1-2 cloves of garlic (if you both eat it, it doesn’t matter) 1 tbsp of capers, chopped (soak for 10 min in water before chopping) 5 tbsp of Extra Virgin OO 2 small handfuls of diced black or Kalamata olives 2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes, cubed and remove seeds 1 handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 2 crumbled dried red chilies (or 3 or 4) 1 box of dried spaghetti 1 handful of salt to season boiling water for pasta

Directions 1. Heat oil on low-med in a large frying pan and throw in the garlic, red chilies and anchovies. (Anchovies will quickly melt away.) 2. Add capers and olives to heated mixture and lightly let simmer for 2 min on low-med heat. 3. Add cubed tomatoes to pan, stir and leave for 10-15 min, tossing occasionally. 4. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. 5. Boil an abundant amount of water for pasta and add a small handful of salt. (Tip: Always better to salt pasta water than add salt directly to sauce.) 6. Cook spaghetti al dente. Drain. 7. Throw spaghetti into heated and fiery saucepan and toss. (Not sauce to pasta, but pasta to sauce. Capisce?)  8. Serve.

Note: Parmigiano does not belong sprinkled upon this particular dish. So, have some respect for the flavors you so lovingly cooked, and leave it off.

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