From emoticons in the shape of apricots or aubergines to idioms borrowed from the culinary lexicon to represent a romantic or sexual relationship, cooking and eating have long been associated with seduction and the path to a partner’s heart.
“It’s a language that allows you to express yourself in ways other than words,” sums up Victoire Loup. In order to get the best tips to ensure a successful date over a meal at home, the author of the French book “Chaud” interviewed a large number of experts, that is, chefs.
We spoke to her to get some ideas on how to determine the odds in your favor for a hot date in the kitchen a la française.
Q: Is the kitchen the best place in the house to start a lesson in seduction?
It is an intimate room. Depending on your home, it may be small, which can promote proximity. It is a more personal space than the living room where you are more exposed. Inviting someone into your home is the first proof of love. You are already revealing a part of yourself…
Q: What is a good recipe to choose for a first date at home?
Risotto is the dish that comes up most often in my book. It’s a recipe that can be made on the date. It takes 20 minutes, which gives you the opportunity to take your time. Do not leave the guest in the living room with peanuts.
Risotto allows the host to invite the guest into the kitchen to wet the rice.
While the risotto is cooking, suggest opening a bottle of white wine. It’s a setup that will obviously help break the ice!
Q: Aren’t the best recipes the ones that involve involving your hands, such as ravioli, so that the hands brush against each other, bringing the two people closer together?
After risotto, pasta is generally the second most popular dish. Yohan Lastre of Lastre Sans Apostrophe in Paris makes ravioli with Parmesan cheese and truffles.
And it is true that when someone prepares this kind of dish for us, we imagine that the amateur chef shows some interest, because he or she has spent a lot of time in the kitchen.
What’s a surefire way to surprise someone?
[In the book] I have a case of a chef who prefers divisive dishes for a first date.
Alcidia Vulbeau, who cooks at the Bonne aventure restaurant in Saint-Ouen, near Paris, prepares poached lamb brains with a shrimp and lime stock.
She explained to me that she doesn’t want to waste her time and wants to test the guy on the first date to see if he dares. (laughs)
Truffles, langoustines, scallops… Is it necessary to bring out the big guns in luxury ingredients for a successful first date at home?
It shows that you want to please your guest. We give of ourselves, we surpass ourselves, that is a sign of affection.
There are as many recipes as there are types of love. My husband’s favorite recipe is an omelet. It’s very simple, but it’s extremely technical.
We don’t all appreciate the same things, just as we are not all receptive to the same kind of humor.
Q: And yet the talented chef Nadia Sammut recommends a recipe from a grandmother’s repertoire…
It is a recipe that has been tried and tested for generations. It’s a safe bet. You can of course choose to prepare a dish that you know how to make perfectly.
It is a dish that tells part of our story. Lucy Chen, of Gros Bao in Paris, told me that the five flavors of pork belly was a way for her parents to express their feelings for her.
A person who is bold enough to make a simple dish also reveals something about himself and shows that he is a person with unpretentious taste.
Q: Chocolate is in the book’s recipe list. It has been talked about as an aphrodisiac ingredient for decades. Isn’t it cliche to prepare a chocolate dessert for a date?
It’s a comforting ingredient. It’s very familiar. It is true that if you prepare a menu with an appetizer consisting of oysters, a ginger-based dish and a chocolate dessert with peppers, you do indeed come across as a bit heavy-handed…
Finally, what are the best ingredients to make this opportunity a success?
It is best to choose ingredients that you know. It’s stressful enough cooking for someone the first time, so adding a super complicated recipe isn’t worth it.
With a dish that cooks in the oven, you can cook without much hassle. Choose a recipe that is comforting and not too technical!
On the other hand, what ingredient can spoil the date?
Garlic, if overdone. Chef Anthony Orjollet of restaurant Eléments in Bidart told me that after a tasting in a wine shop, he had been too heavy-handed in his recipe, which had to impress his guest.
He himself could smell his own breath every time he spoke. He realized as the evening progressed that not only was the meal ruined, but the date too! (laughs)
In the end, there was never a second…
“Chaud” (in French) by Victory Loup is a publication of éditions Humans Humans, 19.90 euros.
This interview has been translated from French.