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Cooking for women in their 20 somethings

blkery Feb 14, 2011 12:11 PM

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?

  1. blkery Feb 22, 2011 06:19 PM

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks for the continued feedback, but I think a lot of you have misunderstood the post - I'm wandering in blind to parties full of 20 somethings I've never met, whose preferences I can't ask in advance, as they are strangers. Not dinner dates, but public gatherings. I'd certainly ask what someone likes if I already had met them and was planning to cook with them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: blkery
      KayceeK Feb 22, 2011 06:31 PM

      That's what I thought. So I still stand by my original post - non-messy, presentation counts, bite-sized and fresh! :)

      1. re: blkery
        Sra. Swanky Feb 23, 2011 04:51 AM

        I say have fun and try out a few things!! Definitely keep the chocolate mousse though! Having *just* passed my 20s (sniff- that was fast!), I appreciate a man opening up my palate to new flavors and experiences! (I did the same for Sr. Swanky while we were dating and now he's a fan of many ethnic foods he refused to try as a single guy!) I think any woman would appreciate the effort you're putting forward. Seriously. It's the fun of dating, and you have a refreshing willingness to please! Break out those pots and pans & just enjoy yourself! :o)

      2. j
        jarona Feb 22, 2011 08:03 AM

        I have a twenty-something daughter. who is an excellent little cook however, she likes the following: Anything that someone else cooks for her. Sushi. Steak--rare on the inside, seared on the outside. Peas. Loves peas. Has peas with almost every meal. Seafood.
        Fresh, homemade pasta with mediteranean veg. Sausicon. Good cheese and a great baguette. Good wine. Hostess cupcakes, macaron, Red Velvet Cake.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jarona
          r
          redips Feb 22, 2011 04:26 PM

          Jarona, Your daughters sound like a catch. Not many 20 something girls share those views on food - a problem I have certainly encountered through my years. I'm wondering what my 30's will bring...

          1. re: redips
            j
            jarona Feb 23, 2011 04:06 AM

            Thank you redips: I've taught her well. Actually, all three of my kids have been raised well as far as food goes. Never forced them to eat anything they didn't want to and had them assist me since they were toddlers playing with their Fisher Price kitchen. My boys are quite the chefs as well. Although when they make dinner for a young lady, I'm sure they both have a way of bringing bacon into the picture:)

        2. Big_Jon Feb 22, 2011 04:25 AM

          An interesting suggestion and one I have perused myself in the past. I have found that if I try and do something ‘fancy’ it invariably goes wrong and I end up apologising for what is probably still a perfectly acceptable meal because ‘I know how that sauce should have turned out’. By far the better option for me has always been to more casually suggest you ‘whip something up’ for a meal and then make something simple (my favourite is scrambled ages on toast, I make my own bread so this is usually a winner) joke about how men can’t cook and then seriously offer to dispel that misconception next time with [insert her dish of choice here]. However if we are indulging in wanton stereotyping then in my experience few women in their 20s are capable cooks! So you would probably get away with anything in the kitchen and still come out on top.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Big_Jon
            a
            Augie6 Feb 22, 2011 06:41 AM

            Big Jon, do not want to ruffle feathers in this board.. but I couldn't agree more most 20 somethign ladies I meet are not cooks or even care.... (obviously I have never meet any from these boards)

            1. re: Augie6
              p
              piccola Feb 22, 2011 04:54 PM

              That's weird, because most 20-something women I know are pretty darn skilled in the kitchen. I find a lot of men our age (at least, the ones I know) are interested in food, but more in the restaurant sense than home cooking.

              1. re: piccola
                a
                Augie6 Feb 23, 2011 04:39 AM

                I will agree 100% I am all about restaruant food and home cooking secondary. I am now starting to frequent some more bars that focus on quality fair and will admit most of the women will not settle for a frozen dinner.

          2. r
            redips Feb 22, 2011 03:23 AM

            Dear Player, (full endearment)

            If you are a competent cook, which it sounds like you are, confidently ask your new lady friend what she likes, what her favorite food is etc... Then make it. In my experience, I would use that technique, and then include your 'staple'. If you make something she doesn't like, you'll have an opportunity to judge her willingness to try, and observe her table side manners as it pertains to declining food (I've disqualified based on that...)

            As for allergies, obviously important, but I find it to be a bit overstated these days. If someone has an allergy, its their job to disclose it, not yours.

            1. sunshine842 Feb 22, 2011 02:33 AM

              for the record, while it's been a while since I've been in my 20s, this scene was repeated often enough it was burned into my memory...

              At dinner with a new guy, and at some point during the meal comes the comment along the line of, " It's really nice to take a woman out who isn't afraid to eat...you've got a great body, but I get so sick and tired of taking women to dinner and they either don't eat anything to impress me what a dainty little thing they are, or they order the most expensive thing on the menu and eat two bites -- again to impress me with their great taste but daintiness. I just feel like I'm being evaluated for my credit-card limit and I hate to see all that food going into the trash."

              My height and weight have always been proportional, by the way, but I've never understood eating like a bird when being taken to a nice restaurant, then bingeing your way through the refrigerator when you get home because you're now ravenous.

              To both sexes -- eat what you want...ask what dietary restrictions and preferences the new object of your desire has...and for god's sake, be yourself.

              4 Replies
              1. re: sunshine842
                p
                piccola Feb 22, 2011 04:49 PM

                I hate when guys make those comments. I happen to love vegetables and salads, and if there's an interesting one on a restaurant menu, I'll order and enjoy it. It doesn't mean I'm trying to impress some dude or that I'm high-maintenance. It just means I know what I like.

                1. re: piccola
                  KayceeK Feb 22, 2011 06:30 PM

                  Agreed! I prefer an app over a dessert any day, and who wants to feel heavy and full after a date? Mehrrrr.

                  1. re: piccola
                    sunshine842 Feb 23, 2011 12:49 AM

                    If that's what you like and what you EAT, then that was the point of the conversation.

                    the point was that the women they were referring to were out to display how dainty they were...they weren't talking about someone who orders a big plate of veggies and EATS it...they were talking about the ones who order and then pick around the edges to make it look like they're oh so dainty and so concerned with their health...when everybody involved knows they're going home and tucking into a whole bag of chips with queso because they didn't eat at dinner.

                    It's the difference between posing and being yourself.

                    1. re: sunshine842
                      p
                      piccola Feb 23, 2011 04:10 AM

                      Yeah, I got that in your first post. I just meant that a lot of men seem to assume that women eat salads because they're prissy or want to impress them, when in fact it could be because we just like vegetables.

                2. free sample addict aka Tracy L Feb 22, 2011 01:09 AM

                  I have a few friends who are 20 something and they run the gamut from vegan to junk food junkies. The two dishes that have wowed my friends are homemade pizza and, if they eat meat, a good roast chicken. Save the cupcakes or cute dessert for a later date. IMHO as a girl, we love dessert, but don't want to be perceived as loving dessert until we are comfortable with a friend or potential boyfriend.

                  1. Jetgirly Feb 21, 2011 10:19 PM

                    I'm twenty-seven. I recently went to a small gathering hosted by a girl my age who I hadn't seen in almost ten years. I arrived with homemade roasted red pepper hummus and pita bread, and she was like, "I'm making tortilla pie! I hope you don't mind that it's fake meat and soy cheese!" Then another girl came with vegan salad rolls. And someone else brought veggies and homemade dip. When four girls who don't know one another all bring healthy, meatless snacks I think it sends a signal: twenty-something girls are often health-conscious. If you don't know the people well I would say err on the side of healthy- lots of fruits and veggies, light on dairy, light on meat. You can always drop in a comment like "I make an amazing bouillabaisse but didn't know how it would go over" and get some hints for next time... but for the first meal play it safe.

                    (At the same time, don't be boring. Despite being a seven-year vegetarian I'm probably the most adventurous eater I know. I will eat anything as long as it's not animal flesh... bring on the exotic fruits, unidentifiable vegetables, foreign spices, weird textures... and I NEVER get stuck in food ruts where I eat the same thing over and over again.)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Jetgirly
                      p
                      piccola Feb 22, 2011 04:46 PM

                      I'm the same -- same age, same tastes. :) I love to try new, "weird" ingredients or creative dishes as long as they don't contain animals bits.

                      I find most of my female friends in the same age group are into veggie-heavy, healthy meals. They might not eat that way all the time, but they're happy to have it served to them.

                    2. u
                      uwsister Feb 20, 2011 08:45 AM

                      Another 20-something female here and my two cents:

                      Desserts! I love love LOVE men who bake. They're certainly rarer than men who cook. It doesn't really matter what kind - I have a huge sweet tooth and I'd be so moved by a homemade dessert.

                      I agree w/ Isolda on small bites. Anything bite-sized, finger food, portion-controlled - we love.

                      If she's an adventurous eater, something that she had never tried before - my husband taught me almost everything I know about Western food. I'll never forget blueberry pancakes and pasta w/ homemade pesto that he made for me during our early months of courtship - I'd never had either before (I was 17 and didn't grow up in the U.S) and I LOVED them. I could name so many dishes like that. Give her an excellent rendition of a dish that she's never had before (but you think that she will like) - she'll always think of you whenever she has it!

                      Personally I'm a bit of veggie-phobe and carnivore - if a guy made a salad as a main course for me, I'd think that he hasn't been listening and/or he wants to push his diet on me. I don't mean that most twenty-something women are total carnivores, but it's about knowing her preferences!

                      1. blkery Feb 16, 2011 12:13 PM

                        Wow, there's some great info here. I never considered portion size, for example, or things that get stuck in teeth, etc. Thanks, everyone!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: blkery
                          BobB Feb 18, 2011 10:45 AM

                          I've been an avid cook since I was in my early 20s, and always found it a great way to impress women. There's a lot of good advice already in this thread, especially the recommendation to talk to her first about her tastes and preferences. To that, I would add that you don't want to try making anything tricky for the first time, not only because you can't be sure it will come out right, but also because if you're making something you're familiar with you'll be more relaxed and that definitely helps the mood of the evening.

                          I've been married for a while now and do most of the cooking in our house. And still enjoy coming up with dishes that impress my wife!

                          1. re: BobB
                            d
                            DaisyM Feb 18, 2011 11:10 AM

                            I'm married and way past 20, but I think the events you are going to sound like a great way to meet someone. I also think making something that you really love and really trying to perfect that dish is a good idea. My husband only makes a few dishes, but every one is superb. He's famous for his brownies and grilled lamb. I didn't marry him because he could cook....but I thought it was awfully sweet the first time he cooked for me.

                        2. b
                          beevod Feb 16, 2011 06:23 AM

                          Cooking one's way to a woman's heart? Doubt it can be done if the attraction isn't there in the first place. (although rare is the woman who can resist my Freudian meatloaf.)

                          1. 4
                            4Snisl Feb 15, 2011 04:38 PM

                            What impresses me about a guy cooking for me is less about how "foodie" the dish is, or even how delicious it is (although that can be a GREAT bonus!)

                            What I notice more is:

                            1. How he carries himself in the kitchen or with serving. Especially if he's nervous. You can learn a lot about a person by seeing how they function in a stressful situation. My favorite is seeing someone who is quietly confident (and competent!)

                            2. Whether the dish shows me something about who he is. Maybe it's a recipe he learned from someone dear to him, a dish he tasted somewhere and HAD to learn to make for himself, something that contains a favorite ingredient, something that contains one of MY favorite ingredients....I love those details! ! I'd much rather see that then have a guy make a meal simply because it's "the right thing to make". Or worse, because it's a way to show off or prove how little humility he has. :)

                            Of course, asking about my preferences and allergies helps when we're learning about each other. And all the usual rules of thumb (nice presentation, working clean, etc.) apply. :)

                            1. t
                              Terrieltr Feb 15, 2011 01:51 PM

                              Tastes vary so much that I'm reluctant to say "Make this or that." So some guidelines

                              1) Easily portioned. At a potluck, you have a lot chose from. Something that portions well lets people try it AND come back for as much as they want. The thing that always takes up half the plate tends to get pushed aside.

                              2) Not too heavy. Similar to humongous portions, heavy foods mean fewer tastes. And part of the fun of potluck is the many different tastes.

                              3) Nothing messy. Having sticky fingers or drips down your shirt is not much fun.

                              4) Bright, clean flavors. Think palate cleansers, fresh herbs, etc. All those dishes run the risk of becoming rather muddled on the tongue. Bright, clean, simple flavors will stand out in a way that more complex flavors won't.

                              1. sunshine842 Feb 15, 2011 01:34 PM

                                For a potluck, absolutely make something you like -- not too messy, and in small portions (but I think that pretty much fits any potluck, anywhere).

                                For a "making dinner for a date" -- that's not usually a first-date activity...so by the time you're comfortable enough to cook for her, you should be comfortable enough to ask what she likes (or to have picked up some ideas from prior meals out, conversations, you know...getting to know her).

                                That would also guide you through the allergies/dislikes/kosher/halal/vegan/vegetarian/sustainable/carnivore quagmire that you might otherwise find yourself drowning in by just assuming.

                                1. x
                                  xcskier20 Feb 15, 2011 12:10 PM

                                  Alright, don't shoot me, but based only upon my own personal experience as a mid 20 year old woman there is something to the meal that a lot of guys are oblivious to. The only critical thing I care about a meal in the beginning of a new relationship is that it isn't so big/heavy that my stomach will pouch in case there is something physical after the meal. It's vain, but the pressure to have a great figure is especially high in the beginning of a relationship. After a couple months, I'll eat all the steak and pasta you want, but in the beginning I'm going to be extra sensitive about eating if sex is a possibility afterward!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: xcskier20
                                    Brianne920 Feb 15, 2011 03:59 PM

                                    You're OK, I'm 25 and I was thinking the same thing :)

                                    1. re: xcskier20
                                      a
                                      Augie6 Feb 16, 2011 05:24 AM

                                      Wow, completely oblivious!! Great info, might have to change weekend plans hahah

                                    2. a
                                      Augie6 Feb 15, 2011 11:47 AM

                                      blkery and everyone else... Are these like diner parties or a date? I am in my 20s and would find it very dificult to get a girl in that age group to come for a home cooked meal , inelss is was 3rd 4th date type deal....or is it just because I never tried?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Augie6
                                        KayceeK Feb 15, 2011 11:55 AM

                                        From the original post, I responded as if going to a potluck and his wanting to stand out among the crowd. If on a date, I would be pleased with the simple invitation itself. :) I think other posters may have responded according to the latter.

                                      2. b
                                        beachmouse Feb 15, 2011 09:40 AM

                                        As others have said- think small portions. In a situation where there's a huge table of food present, it's so very nice to be able to have a yummy-looking two bite appetizer or dessert. You're getting to try something interesting, but you don't have to commit to a large item and possibly miss out on something else that looks or smells good.

                                        1. a
                                          Augie6 Feb 15, 2011 06:35 AM

                                          I have been in your situation recently and it is a hard task my friend. I had to cook somethign for my "friends" all in the 20 somethign range. I think ALOT has to do with location so my advice is going to be slightly vauge. My friends from Philly or NYC (larger cities) are much more willing to try somethign new than my people in my area.

                                          Easy to eat and Easy to recongnize... is best bet until you get to know some more specifics.. A really good mac and cheese is a good bet, even some sliders are not a bad choice.... everyone ( male of female) in that age group does want to feel out of place or uneducated... brining somethign too sophisticated will hurt your chances

                                          If your dates are not into food , do NOT keep brining up food stuff .. ( this is my overwhelming issue) being a foodie i can't help to explain how this lamb was locally raised and the vegitables we are eating came from same farm...(she could have cared less )

                                          1. g
                                            grant.cook Feb 15, 2011 06:27 AM

                                            My thoughts...

                                            1) Make it taste good,

                                            2) Show her you've thought about the details - grind your own pepper, warm your plates, wash your glassware - nothing skeeves someone out as much as a feeling that something isn't clean...

                                            3) Don't come across as a snob.... she doesn't need to know how much you know about the olive oil or the wine - keep the info casual,

                                            4) don't go crazy with ingredients - offal and stuff on fire might be a bit much. Now might also not be the time to try some new Thai dish you read about...

                                            5) don't overdo it, casual date, somewhat casual meal - 6 course meal on a 2nd date? You come across as "TOO TOO"

                                            6) Get her general tastes - red meat? seafood? will she eat stuff off the bone? is she allergic to anything? - those are usually pretty easy questions to feel out.. a healthier meal is a safer default, but not crazy healthy - just don't slab a pork belly down in front of her and go "MMMM.. pork bathed in fat!" (but if she does want a pork belly with cracklin's, marry her immediately)

                                            7) If she cooks for you, and she's newer to cooking, or cooks in a different style than you do (my wife and I take very different approaches to cooking) don't be too much of a "corrector" - if she dices onions like a barbarian using a knife that was last sharpened in 2002, let her.. if she serves you a bottle of Charles Shaw, grin and bear it..

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: grant.cook
                                              l
                                              LauraGrace Feb 15, 2011 07:33 AM

                                              THIS is fab advice, for just about anyone. :)

                                              1. re: grant.cook
                                                i
                                                Isolda Feb 20, 2011 09:15 AM

                                                +++++1 on your #2. Cleanliness is huge!
                                                But I must disagree with #4, perhaps because I am 48 and not 25, but I love stuff on fire. Who doesn't enjoy a good flame?

                                              2. d
                                                devra Feb 15, 2011 06:16 AM

                                                I'm also a woman in my 20s. First let me say, I think this is great. You clearly care about sharing a passion with your partner and food really is a great way to impress. What about something that's both healthy and hearty? Perhaps a farro salad or another interesting grain. Wheat berries pair well with craisins, feta and arugula. As for meat at a potluck, I think it's incredibly hard to pull off and not have it be overcooked unless you're going for a super long braise like ossobucco. I think healthy is a good way to go but I also think the luscious and sort of seductive texture of chocolate mouse is a good thing to keep in your repetoir. Raspberries might make a nice addition.

                                                1. a
                                                  AussieBeth Feb 14, 2011 10:28 PM

                                                  I am a 20 something gal. All my girlfriends have wildy varying tastes, but there are somethings we do all love - desserts (esp chocolate related ones) and cocktails. On the booze front, I am more of a tequila or gin based cocktail person myself, but most of my girlfriends are not into really boozy tasting drinks - if you are going to do the cocktail thing, I think the much maligned, but very popular "girly drinks" are your best bet - I would think there are few twenty something women who would turn a free fruity drink down. I also like the idea of small, easy to eat items - very appealing to a female audience. Good luck!!

                                                  1. westsidegal Feb 14, 2011 09:47 PM

                                                    although no longer even near my 20's,
                                                    chocolate in all its forms
                                                    wine
                                                    fantastic warm rolls

                                                    in my 20's i went through phases about what kind of proteins i liked so that part of the meal may be hard to predict. . . .

                                                    1. operagirl Feb 14, 2011 07:41 PM

                                                      Another 20-something woman offering my two cents . . .

                                                      First off, I love what Caroline1 said about cooking what YOU like to attract a mate that you'd potentially have something in common with. Smart lady, she is.

                                                      Others have also mentioned the excellent points of a.) serving small portions and b.) making sure whatever you prepare is not messy to eat.

                                                      As for trends? Well, around here (I'm in the SF Bay Area), my girlfriends have all been going nuts for mini-cupcakes and other "cute" desserts. Not really my jam, but they are very popular right now. Another big thing is desserts that have an herbal twist, like rosemary in shortbread or lavender in ice cream. It's also very, very hard to go wrong with chocolate.

                                                      Best of luck with your dating endeavors!

                                                      1. GraceW Feb 14, 2011 07:30 PM

                                                        I am a 20 something. First of all: bravo--I admire that you are wanting to/willing to cook for prospective dates. I do not oft meet a man who wants the responsibilities of entertaining to that degree but instead wishes to just meet and eat out.

                                                        I would never eat lamb or steak or any red meat. My gut reaction was fish, but I only eat fish (in terms of meat) so that makes sense. I am not a huge salad person, but I know a lot of my friends adore salad with walnuts and blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette (no offense, but I hate all of those things). I like eggplant, but that is probably atypical. I also really like squash, sweet potatoes, and kale. I think quinoa is pretty tasty.

                                                        I adore cupcakes--despite the posts that make fun of them above--but I do not think I have ever had them on a date. Nor do I drink, but I believe many women my age do. I would rather have the mousse than alcohol, but to be honest I think many women my age would prefer to save the calories for alcohol and not have the mousse. Obviously you seem sensible enough to avoid those types.

                                                        Best wishes to you & your quest.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: GraceW
                                                          goodhealthgourmet Feb 14, 2011 10:50 PM

                                                          Grace, i hope we didn't offend you with our comments about cupcakes. of course i understand that *some* 20-something women like them - as do women (and men!) of all ages - i just thought it was a silly generalization/assumption to make that if a woman is in her 20's she's bound to like them :)

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                            GraceW Feb 15, 2011 02:35 AM

                                                            Ah, no! I am not offended. And I do recognize that it is banal of me to like them in the first place, but I typically am anormative, so if that is one stereotype that I uphold then so be it.

                                                            In truth, I only eat the frosting and most 20 somethings do (and probably should) remove the frosting.

                                                            No worries Goodhealthgourmet, you've always been helpful and generous in your posts

                                                            1. re: GraceW
                                                              goodhealthgourmet Feb 15, 2011 09:30 AM

                                                              ok, good, because it dawned on me that some of us might be sounding a bit judgmental or condescending. don't be so hard on yourself - enjoy that frosting, and make no apologies for it ;)

                                                        2. caseyjo Feb 14, 2011 06:28 PM

                                                          I'm a 20-something female, although who knows how representative I am of the general demographic. I would definitely suggest something high quality, in season, and sustainable (these are things my non-foodie and foodie friends alike seem to be really into). Being eco-friendly is (luckily for the environment) trendy, and simple, quality food, done well, seems to be better than fancy food. At least, that's what I've found to be popular at my dinner parties. But I wouldn't be eco-friendly to the point of bringing offal, at least not on the first date.

                                                          Duck can be great, but can also seem like you're trying too hard. Lamb would probably be a better choice, more interesting than steak for sure. Many women seem to like boneless, skinless chicken breasts, although clearly no self respecting foodie would actually bring that. Risotto is popular, and non-foodies may think it's more impressive than it actually is.

                                                          As a foodie, I'd be impressed by any confit (especially duck), cracklings, liver dishes, and regional dishes from whatever cuisine you're into. I'm also ridiculously impressed by eggs cooked well, but if you're cooking her eggs you probably don't need my advice. If it were me, I'd use this as a bit of a weeding-out process: I know my mac and cheese is good enough to warrant a marriage proposal, but I'm not really interested in dating a guy who would refuse to try sweetbreads or sashimi.

                                                          I like the idea of tiny portions mentioned above. One appetizer that has been pretty popular at my parties has been petit croque-madames: ham and gruyere on sliced baguette, broiled and topped with fried quail's eggs. People will likely be impressed with the tiny eggs, great conversation starter.

                                                          1. Caroline1 Feb 14, 2011 05:50 PM

                                                            I don't fit your demographic by a whole bunch of decades, but I have a suggestion... Why not serve food that YOU really like, and that way you'll get a better idea from the start of whether you have a lot in common when it comes to likes and dislikes. While food may not be the end all for defining a relationship, it's more fun when you have a lot more in common than you have differences. I've never really thought of Jack Sprat and spouse as an ideal foodie couple. Good luck! And I think all women are VERY pleased when a guy cooks for them. Bravo!

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                                              mamachef Feb 15, 2011 10:07 AM

                                                              C1, this is very well-put with the most excellent advice. From my own experience, I can say that a man who cooks for me earns my deepest appreciation. If he can make me laugh while he's doing it, plusplusplus.
                                                              I also appreciated how nice and caring blkery is, to have such concern about this. Good husband material, probably, because I'd bet his attitude carries over beyond domestic concerns.

                                                              1. re: mamachef
                                                                Caroline1 Feb 15, 2011 01:24 PM

                                                                He is a rare guy! His kind weren't well represented in my generation. Rats! '-)

                                                              2. re: Caroline1
                                                                i
                                                                Isolda Feb 20, 2011 09:13 AM

                                                                I had to laugh when I read your post. I once had a date who invited me to his apartment for dinner, and he served little bowls of raisins, goldfish (the cheese kind), sardines (the real ones), M&Ms, grapes, and his very excellent homebrewed beer.

                                                                I later married him and became the cook in the family.

                                                                1. re: Isolda
                                                                  sunshine842 Feb 20, 2011 09:25 AM

                                                                  musta been really good beer! :P

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                    t
                                                                    Terrieltr Feb 20, 2011 12:35 PM

                                                                    My thought as well!

                                                              3. eatsbread Feb 14, 2011 05:44 PM

                                                                I think Isolda and others are on the right track with the idea of small bites that let people take as much or as little as they like. Along those lines, mini quiches are nice. Quiche is infinitely flexible when it comes to ingredients, so you can vary your recipe given the season, and it doesn't seem nearly as heavy as typical potluck fare. My little quiches always seem to go quickly at church potlucks.

                                                                1. i
                                                                  Isolda Feb 14, 2011 05:14 PM

                                                                  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
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                                                                    LauraGrace Feb 14, 2011 05:21 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      goodhealthgourmet Feb 14, 2011 05:40 PM

                                                                      @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
                                                                        j
                                                                        Just Visiting Feb 15, 2011 01:32 PM

                                                                        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!

                                                                      2. mtngirlnv Feb 14, 2011 02:10 PM

                                                                        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
                                                                          westsidegal Feb 14, 2011 09:39 PM

                                                                          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.

                                                                          1. re: westsidegal
                                                                            mtngirlnv Feb 15, 2011 02:15 PM

                                                                            Good point!

                                                                        2. r
                                                                          Ricardo Malocchio Feb 14, 2011 12:56 PM

                                                                          Cupcakes and apple-tinis.

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Ricardo Malocchio
                                                                            KayceeK Feb 14, 2011 02:03 PM

                                                                            Ick - I do not like either of those things!

                                                                            1. re: Ricardo Malocchio
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                                                                              LauraGrace Feb 14, 2011 02:32 PM

                                                                              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
                                                                                caseyjo Feb 14, 2011 07:05 PM

                                                                                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
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                                                                                small h Feb 14, 2011 04:50 PM

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

                                                                                1. re: small h
                                                                                  goodhealthgourmet Feb 14, 2011 05:37 PM

                                                                                  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
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                                                                                    small h Feb 14, 2011 06:57 PM

                                                                                    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
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                                                                                      nvcook Feb 18, 2011 07:44 PM

                                                                                      +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. KayceeK Feb 14, 2011 12:19 PM

                                                                                  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
                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Feb 14, 2011 05:43 PM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      cookie monster Feb 14, 2011 05:49 PM

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

                                                                                  2. c
                                                                                    charlesbois Feb 14, 2011 12:18 PM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      blkery Feb 14, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                                                      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
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                                                                                        charlesbois Feb 14, 2011 12:43 PM

                                                                                        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.

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