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The Awkward Dinner Dance: What Do You Want to Eat Tonight?

By Brandon Cohen

Strong, healthy relationships are founded on communication and compromise. As such, responsible couples and the betrothed-to-be tend to brace themselves for the one hot-button issue with the power to destroy any happy marriage: money. And yet, there is a second, more insidious argument. It recurs every single night, stems from our most primal selves, and is all but ignored. Why is it that we don’t pay nearly as much attention to mastering this passive-aggressive dance that is the dreaded dinner decision?

The act of actually picking what to eat with a significant other on a nightly basis can turn into ritualized disaster. Whether you’re cooking up that famous casserole you invented during the Carter administration, ordering in from the Chinese place down the street whose short order cooks you’re now closer to than a few siblings, or dining out for some microscopic haute cuisine, the decision on a meal representing togetherness and celebration often causes resentment and strife.

You are watching Chef Billy Parisi preparing
Asian BBQ Country Ribs & Green Beans

“Spaghetti… again?”

The economists among you may be familiar with the idea of diminishing marginal utility. For the rest of you, the theorem can be summed up with “too much of a good thing is no longer so good.” Unless your mom is a famed chef and TV personality, odds are that whoever prepares the meals in your house is going to have a somewhat limited number of dishes in their repertoire.

Perhaps the most common case of battling home cooked fatigue is confronting dad, who otherwise never steps foot near a stovetop, about that one dish he’s perfected and makes constantly. When those spaghetti and meatballs first became palatable over years of trial and error, everyone in the family was giving him supportive “Alright, Dad!” cheers as he tasted that sauce in his new gag apron.

Then he started calling the dish “Dad’s Famous Spaghetti.” When he offered to make it three times a week, the lies started piling up. “Oh dad, that sounds amazing but I had a meatball sub for lunch,” or “dad, you know I’m trying to vegan thing for a while…” Eventually the niceties run out and “Alright, Dad!” turns into “Alright Dad, enough already.”

Even the tastiest meal, when consumed too often, becomes cringe worthy. If you look close enough at The Last Supper, you can make out an apostle rolling their eyes with an “oh, thanks Jesus, wine and bread again…” look. How do you delicately tell a loved one putting in the effort to make you a nice dinner that you no longer want what they’re slaving over? It’s a tricky tightrope to walk.

Click to watch Chef Billy Parisi prep and pair
Carne Asada appetizers with Cabernet Sauvignon

15 Minutes or Less

For the millions of people who live in households challenged in the culinary arts, ordering in dinner every night is seemingly the hassle-free way to go. But, having to figure out where to order presents its own set of challenges. Sifting through menus from your favorite spots is a walk in the park when you’re alone. It’s a whole different ball game when you’re aligning your palette with other people.

It’s virtually guaranteed that whatever you’re hankering for, someone in your group will be vehemently opposed to it. And whatever cuisine they had their heart set on seems about as delectable as sucking down the last few glops of ketchup from a crusty Heinz bottle.

You end up going back and forth about the whole affair like two countries engaged in cold war politics. Sanctions are imposed, “If you make me eat pho again, I’m erasing your Breaking Bad episodes to make room for the Project Runway premiere.” Underhanded tactics are used, “Oh look at that, Yelp says all the sushi places near us are actually closed…” Egos are bruised, “Don’t you eat anything besides pizza? You might want a little protein in that diet.”

Ultimately concessions are made, and Mexican is agreed upon. It’s usually not a rousing “Yes, Burritos!” cheer, but more of a deflated “Yeah, I guess I could do Mexican…” bit. And then when the food does arrive, unless it’s the greatest meal you’ve ever had, fingers are pointed at whomever first proposed ordering from that godforsaken place, the walls go right back up, and the vicious cycle begins anew.

Click to watch Graci Kim prepare Scallops & Tilapia on a Bed of Creamy Red Onions

Zagat Burning

Once in a while, man and woman need to reignite that bygone sense of courtship. They step out of the house and treat themselves to a well-deserved dinner out on the town. McDonalds may be physically disconnected from your apartment complex, but that alone does not make dinner there a night out.

No, we’re talking about a place where the napkins are washed, the waiters are named Marcel, and they ask if you’d like bottled water or tap. Don’t be a sucker. Always go for tap. We’re still in a recession, after all. But before you don your finest sports coat and pair of New Balances, you need to manage picking a restaurant without filing for divorce.

You not only have to consider what cuisine to pick, but the setting in which to eat. Your wife wants the trendy, celebrity-owned, flavor of week with a two-month wait list. Your husband wants a restaurant with a flat screen TV viewable from every seat. If kids have a say, they’re probably hell bent on an all-you-can-eat buffet where they will literally waste pounds of food. Going there too often is what makes the “kids starving in Africa” guilt-trip lose its effect after awhile.

You’re all playing Goldie Lox. This place is too loud, that place too dead. The waiters at this place don’t shut up, but at least they’re not standoffish like at that other place. The stress that comes with choosing where you’ll park your butt for the next hour and a half is enough to make you wish you were agoraphobic.

Click to watch Mixology: Blackberry Mojito

Mastering the Dance

We’re living in a modern day Tower of Babel when it comes to the dinner decision. We dance around the issue, unable to express ourselves when satisfaction eludes us. Of course you should be concerned with not offending your loved ones, but repressed animosity will fester inside of you until one day it explodes, and all because that tilapia was grilled a minute too long.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Step into the modern age and visit KoldCast TV’s new Food & Cooking Channel to help solve the dinner dance. Why not spice up dad’s meatballs with innovative new recipes, taught up close and personal by popular chefs? Rather than order in, bring the laptop to the kitchen and cook a nice meal together. You’ll relish the experience and have the guidance of culinary masters to guide you.

However you go about making the dreaded dinner decision, we are now here to help. Godspeed, and Bon Appetit!

Click to watch Episode 1 of the new, R-Rated Fictional Food-Themed Comedy Series, Pairings – “Getting Saucy”

Click to watch Episode 2 of Pairings, “The Risotto Solution”

Ariel Nishli contributed to this story.

Brandon Cohen is a comedy writer who currently resides in NYC. He sends himself flowers weekly, and eats a Lean Cuisine for every meal. When not threatening children at his local park, he can be found trolling Craigslist for overweight women to help him complete his female body suit made of human skin. He also likes dogs.

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