SamePlate.com matches people by food preferences alone. Users fill out their age, sex, zip code, and then disclose food preferences, allergies, and diet. Pictures are completely optional. And essays about your favorite music or what you're looking for? Nonexistent. The site's homepage reads: "If romance blooms, great. But in the meantime: Share a meal, no big deal." After all, food can bring people together, but it can't do all the heavy lifting.
The typical SamePlate.com user isn't on an extreme diet, though. He or she is more likely to be a foodie. The site's inclusive—among a variety of exotic cuisines, one of the food preferences listed is "finicky/picky." Had I used SamePlate.com years ago, I never would've been matched with John. Life might have been easier and more comfortable in the short-term, but a lot less delicious. Over the time we dated, John slowly opened my mind and my palate. He stopped shaming me for being picky. In fact, he asked questions about my diet: What I ate, what I didn't eat, how I figured it out. I realized that many of my food aversions involved severe texture issues from childhood that I'd probably outgrown. (I wasn't just the kid who wouldn't eat the crust of her sandwich; I'd never eaten a hamburger because I didn't like how the soggy bun felt in my mouth.) I'd eaten fish once some 20 years ago and abandoned it altogether. Now I couldn't even remember what kind I'd tried.
Dating a foodie made it easy for me to start trying new foods with little risk. At a restaurant, I'd order something I knew I liked and then try anything on John's plate that piqued my curiosity. I started small with pieces of foreign vegetables and eventually graduated to kangaroo, which I still can't believe I've eaten.
"What's the worst that could happen?" John had asked. "Try enough to get a real sense of how this tastes." He was so patient. I eventually realized that by being so averse to tastes I might not like, I'd been depriving myself of many foods I could've been enjoying all along. Like asparagus. And smoked fish. And even—this is embarrassing to admit—cheeseburgers. I'm still not a foodie, but I no longer feel anxious when I'm not in control of mealtime.