Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Food for thought...

From the NY Times article "I Love You, but You Love Meat."

Sharing meals has always been an important courtship ritual and a metaphor for love. But in an age when many people define themselves by what they will eat and what they won’t, dietary differences can put a strain on a romantic relationship. The culinary camps have become so balkanized that some factions consider interdietary dating taboo.

Judging from postings at food Web sites like and, people seem more willing to date those who restrict their diet for health or religion rather than mere dislike.

Typical sentiments included: “Medical and religious issues I can work around as long as the person is sincere and consistent, but flaky, picky cheaters — no way” and “picky eaters are remarkably unsexy.”

“Food is a huge part of life,” she said. “It’s something I want to be able to share.”

A year ago Ms. Esposito met and married Michael Esposito, 51, who, like her, is an adventurous and omnivorous eater. Now, she said, she could not be happier. “A relationship is about giving and receiving, and he loves what I cook, and I love to cook for him,” she said.

Food has a strong subconscious link to love, said Kathryn Zerbe, a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. That is why refusing a partner’s food “can feel like rejection,” she said.

Ah but there's also the other side:

As with other differences couples face, tolerance and compromise are essential at the dinner table, marital therapists said. “If you can’t allow your partner to have latitude in what he or she eats, then maybe your problem isn’t about food,” said Susan Jaffe, a psychiatrist in Manhattan.

Dynise Balcavage, 42, an associate creative director at an advertising agency and vegan who lives in Philadelphia, said she has been happily married to her omnivorous husband, John Gatti, 53, for seven years.

“We have this little dance we’ve choreographed in the kitchen,” she said. She prepares vegan meals and averts her eyes when he adds anchovies or cheese. And she does not show disapproval when he orders meat in a restaurant.

“I’m not a vegangelical,” she said. “He’s an adult and I respect his choices just as he respects mine.”

In deference to his wife, Mr. Gatti has cut back substantially on his meat consumption and no longer eats veal. For her part, Ms. Balcavage cooks more Italian dishes, her husband’s favorite.

In me own words:

Yes, food is terribly important to me. I'm Chinese. Our first question when receiving someone into our home isn't "How are you?" it's "Have you eaten?" Special care is taken to make sure guests never leave hungry. At my uncle and aunt's in Sacramento, family visits mean that the kids bring tupperware with them...because the housekeeper has prepared food specifically for doggie bags. I was a last-minute guest and I still went home with goodies: frozen chinese sausage.
I grew up eating things most American kids in the suburbs don't eat, like lots of seafood (paella, sushi, fried bangus - milkfish), French and Italian cuisines (my love of raclette began at the tender age of 8 at La Locanda in California). I was also fortunate enough to travel to many countries when I was younger - I lived in the Philippines for 6 years and have also visited Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, England, France, Germany, Finland... My father loved food and his passion for eating - like everything else he loves - has filtered through his DNA into mine. I can't help it - I'm born to love food!
That said, I've had to make some concessions while dating picky eaters. Mr. Saultee tends to be one of them. However there is a difference between a picky eater who simply won't try new things and a picky eater who simply has a certain taste. Alex leans towards the latter, which I can deal with. He has eaten chicken feet, ox tail, raw oyster, beef tendon and salmon sashimi... and for that, I thank him. Happy early lover's day :)

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