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Cooking for women in their 20 somethings

OK, I'm going to step carefully here because I don't want to sound like I'm stereotyping, sexist, or over-generalizing.

I've been aggressively dating after a rough break up and have meeting a lot of people at cooking events and dinners. My last relationship started when she tried my chocolate mousse. Hopefully I can cook my way to romance again.

That said, I don't know the people I'm meeting well enough to be familiar with their particular food preferences, so I'm looking for some general trends. What kind of food do women in their 20's like? The most obvious patterns I've noticed are sweeter flavors, things that seem healthy (salads), and for some, cheese.

Like I said, I know food preferences are deeply personal, complicated, and not something that can be derived from one's gender - but there may be some trends I could cook towards that would help me stand out a bit better at the next potluck. Most of these people aren't foodies, so I'm guessing they'd be less impressed with foodie-oriented indulgences (offal, complicated preparations, peasant food, etc).

So, if you're in demographic I'm speaking of, I'd appreciate it if you chimed in and gave me some suggestions. Are you a crab person or a steak person? Would I be better suited bringing lamb with cumin and coriander to my next gathering, honey mustard steelhead, or something completely different?

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  1. I'm well out of my 20s, but when I was there, what I appreciated most was someone asking me what my preferences were, instead of crowdsourcing ideas.

    but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest roasted vegetable couscous, profiteroles and barbecue. My 20-year-old self would have been way more willing to cut you some slack if you offered any of those.

    2 Replies
    1. re: charlesbois

      Oh, I ask people once I get to know them, but there are usually a few new folks at every event I go to.

      1. re: blkery

        that's exactly the way to win a girl's heart, by getting to know her. Also, if your chocolate mousse was a hit, I'd keep it in my repertoire. Choc mousse is pretty popular at any age.

    2. I would say that presentation maybe counts and, for a potluck, something that isn't too messy. It seems in my experience that people tend to bring lots of "heavy" dishes to potlucks (chili, dips, casseroles, meatballs, etc.). You could bring an app like salad rolls or satays with a peanut dipping sauce...or a sushi tray with fresh ginger and wasabi.

      Or, no woman I know can resist a gourmet homemade mac 'n' cheese. :)

      2 Replies
      1. re: KayceeK

        something that isn't too messy
        ~~~~~~~~~~
        agreed. it's hard to look (and feel!) attractive when you've got sauce smeared on your face :)

        speaking of which, skip the pesto or anything similar that's likely to result in people walking around with brightly colored bits of food wedged between their teeth.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          . . . or concern that they have onion or garlic breath

        1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

          Ick - I do not like either of those things!

          1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

            Yeah, hate both of those, as do most of my 20-something friends. Especially appletinis. Give me a beer or a bourbon, and keep those froufrou drinks far away! ;)

            1. re: LauraGrace

              I know that most of my friends would take quality beer or a nice scotch over an appletini any day. I take my martinis dirty up, no apple flavoring and sugar necessary.

            2. re: Ricardo Malocchio

              I think you may be confusing real women with television characters. It's not uncommon.

              1. re: small h

                LOL! i almost want to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was kidding because it's such a silly stereotype :)

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  You may well be right, and anyway, I haven't been twenty-something in twenty-something years, so maybe tastes have changed.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    +1. I have seen this post and just kept skipping over it because I thought it was a joke. If you meet someone you like, ask what she likes to eat. Simple

              2. A meal where your guest assists in a minor way can be fun. Grating cheese, slicing tomatos, that sort of thing. And keeping it casual is important.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mtngirlnv

                  if you don't know your girl yet, you don't know if she wants to blow her $20 manicure to help you cook.
                  also, if she is unsure about her own cooking skills, this could look like a test.

                  i like to cook with folks who i already know like to cook and who are comfort in the kitchen as well as at the table.

                2. What appeals to women of all ages is cute, small portions. No woman likes to have to take a huge, steroid-buff chicken breast and slap it on her plate. She's going to cut it or else she won't take it at all. And if you're serving, say, bagels, as part of a buffet, quarter them. If she wants the whole thing, she'll come back for fourths. Serving just about anything in small portions (mini cupcakes, small cups of mousse, little rolls) is universally appealing and everyone will end up eating more, so there will be less waste.

                  Case in point: If I slap down a couple of boxes of whole dougnuts at our church coffee hour, there will be a few leftover. If, however, I quarter those doughnuts, people will ask for more when they are all gone.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Isolda

                    My mama had a name for that, Isolda: "the fat lady's piece." It's the "Oh, I'll just have this little sliver... and then maybe just a little more..." ;) All tongue-in-cheek of course, and you're definitely right about quartered or halved donuts!! :)

                    1. re: Isolda

                      @Isolda, great points all around except for one - quartered bagels are useless if you actually want to do more than spread a bit of cream cheese or butter on them...i'd really prefer at least a half to construct an open-faced sandwich.

                      1. re: Isolda

                        Agree entirely. Even though I haven't been a twenty-something in twenty-something years. And if you can cook something that tastes great and has zero calories, you are a winner!