archivefood fear

Opinion

My chopsticks anxiety hell

Every time I’m within 10 feet of a noodle, it’s the same. That creeping anxiety in anticipation of the inevitable; the resentful side-eye to the two slender wooden oppressors at my hand. Try us, they say, maybe this time you’ll finally get it right. My blood runs cold and my face flushes. “Um, could I have a fork, please?” If this were a saloon bar in the wild west, the piano player would stop abruptly and everyone would turn to face me. As it is, it’s a ramen restaurant in...
Dating 101Single survival

Valentine’s Day: Say no to romance at gunpoint

Thanks to the internet and snark becoming an acceptable way of life, moaning about Valentine's Day and deriding everyone who gets involved in it is almost as big an institution as buying your beloved a bouquet on the day. And it's highly monetised, with cash changing hands for a billion think pieces on the death of romance. We mock those who simply must book a romantic meal for two on February 14th, because either their partner will give them the silent treatment from the 15th until the end of March, or,...
Dating 101

10 tests every potential boyfriend must pass before you commit

So you’ve been on a couple of dates and it’s going well, but is he boyfriend material? Stop right there and climb no further on the commitment ladder until you’ve got him through the following ten challenges: 1. Make him chew gum Mouth open? Drooling? Really inexplicably loud? Bubbles?! Ditch him. 2. Watch him go through a self-checkout machine More than three unexpected items in the bagging area and he has to go. 3. Take a train or Tube with him You will see how he reacts to standing etiquette/giving...
Bad dates

The Table For Two

A restaurant. The lighting is low, there is candlelight. Muzak pipes out of unseen speakers. Save for the waiter absentmindedly picking his teeth with a taxi firm’s business card, this is a perfect romantic setting. Of course, I didn’t pick the venue. I like my restaurants either comfortingly luxurious or the type of joint where you gnaw through an overcooked chicken brochette on an upturned tea chest. This middle-of-the-road suburban eatery isn’t what I’d normally go for. I can’t help but think it is a shame he’s picked somewhere so...
Bad dates

The Plus One

“I’m going to a friend’s for dinner on Friday. Come.” I should say “No thank you, Toby; it’s only our second date”. I don’t. “Is there anything you don’t eat?” I should tell him about my phobia of celeriac and meringues. I don’t. When I ask “What shall I bring?” and he replies “Nothing, just yourself!” I should listen, but I don’t. When Toby spies the prosecco I’m clutching to my chest as we arrive and tells me “You can’t bring that; they’re teetotal and Polly won’t have it in...
Bad dates

The Hold-Out

A restaurant. I hate going for food on a first date, but my date suggested it and so here I am. Leo is a student and 22 – that enchanted age where anything seems possible, but you’re still not old enough to realise none of it will ever happen. His pictures were, to put it bluntly, deceiving and he is not very good-looking at all, but I’m here now and we can at least have a nice dinner. I can tell he’s not a serial dater, as he’s picked Chinese –...
Single survival

Things I have pretended to like in order to get sex

Football I remember a very miserable afternoon – a rainy Saturday – spent in a pub that smelled of cauliflower and dog, staring with great concentration at a TV up on the wall. I didn’t really dare look away in case I looked like I was bored and I couldn’t have given two bronze fucks about what was happening on the screen so I fixed my gaze on a spider at the corner of the TV. The spider span a web and then fell onto a table and crawled into...
Follow-upsGood dates

The Great Potential, part 2

Second chances don’t come along every day and you never get another opportunity to make a first impression. It is these clichés which reverberate as I make my way to this date, a last minute reprieve for a potential romance I’d long consigned to death row. After his most recent text message, which tells me he’s available again four months after our first date proved to be a dead end, I surprise myself by not bothering to ask what went wrong with the guy he chose over me. I find...