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Candlelight, red wine, freshly made pasta. Flirting at a small table in a corner infrequently visited by the waiter. Such are the makings of a great date. But not if you can't eat what they're serving. What if you must start with a 10-minute interrogation: Can the scaloppini be prepared without a dusting of flour? Can I forgo the bed of pasta and just have the red pepper salmon? Embarrassing. Your waiter takes a few trips to the kitchen to speak with the chef, and your date progresses in fits in starts. And – let's be honest – you might seem a little high-maintenance. Here, how to make two culinary palates work.
In his column this week on The New York Times Frank Bruni wrote about gender-based customs and differences in restaurants. Even in the age of third-wave feminism and political correctness, some restaurants still observe rules like serving a woman first, taking the wine order from the man and giving the man the check. Some of the rules have pretty much disappeared: giving a woman a menu without prices if she's there with a man, and seating a woman against the wall so she's facing out. I didn't know these were common customs, however I do prefer sitting facing out—doesn't everyone? That way you can check out the entire room. But apparently men and women do have different preferences when it comes to dining out, and proprietors have to take the variations into account when planning menus and decor. According to the article, women tend to like healthier menu options, while men ask about steak; if there will be lots of women at an event party planner turn up the heat, because women wear less clothing; gals want to know about lighting, men almost never do. According to famous chef Mario Batali, "'Women are looking for somewhere comfortable, men are looking for somewhere to show off.'"