Photographs by Meadow Linn

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Five Ways to Chase a Man Away

Five Ways to Chase a Man Away

Whoever said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach needs to learn a thing or two about dating in the modern era. Whatever you do, do not cook, bake, knit, or make anything that could possibly be construed as a gift until you’ve been going out for a long time. Believe me. I know this from experience.

Why is it that when I make chocolates for a new guy, I’m immediately dropped by the wayside; yet, when a man brings me chocolates, I imagine sharing his last name and wonder what we’ll call our children?

Each new guy is an opportunity to show off what I do best and gain his undying affection by promising a life filled with homemade pasta, rustic breads, hand formed truffles, and meats roasted with intoxicating spices. Unfortunately, it seems, I’ve been brainwashed by the idea that food will win over a man.

Over the past four or so years, I have done a lot of dating. (Yay for the internet!) I stopped counting a few years ago, but at that time I was up to 56 different men. I know…It’s crazy. You must be thinking that there is something seriously wrong with a woman who can’t land a single guy after casting her net that many times. And perhaps you’re right. But I’m sensitive, so don’t tell me if you think I’m pathetic.

It’s a well-known fact that I’ve been very picky in my search for The One; however, I have been fairly indiscriminating when choosing who to go out with. A long time ago I decided I’d give nearly anyone at least one chance. I’m crazy to put myself out there that many times, but you never know whom you might find. There is a reason why the fairytale about kissing a frog and getting a prince is so popular. If you plant enough seeds, eventually you’ll get something tall and strong. Right? At least, that’s what my mom keeps telling me…

I would like to think that I’m a strong and independent woman. I don’t see myself as overly cloying or needy, like Kate Hudson’s character in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days; however, it appears I have a tendency to give too early in a relationship. With the exception of a couple of serious boyfriends, anytime I have cooked for a man or given him anything I’ve made, it’s put an abrupt end to the relationship.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I went out with a French guy named Franck. For our fourth or fifth date, I invited him to my home for Sunday brunch on the lawn. I served him wild boar sausage (fitting for a Frenchman I thought), which he said he loved, but that was the last time I ever saw him.

Awhile later, I met a Persian Peter Gallagher look alike. One evening over dinner, we started talking about our favorite music. A few days after that, I made him a mix CD and included many of the songs we’d discussed. The day after I mailed it, I received an e-mail he’d sent from work that said he didn’t feel any chemistry and didn’t want to see me again. Hours later he would have found the CD waiting for him in the mailbox at his apartment.

Two years ago, I spent a good portion of the fall traipsing back and forth across Los Angeles and a few other cities to spend weekends hiking and adventuring with a Danish guy I met on the internet. Although we hadn’t been going out long, I decided to knit him a warm hat with a Scandinavian design for Christmas. He was living far from home and wouldn’t be spending the holidays with family, so I thought it would be nice for him to have something warm to wear in the mountains that reminded him of home. Halfway finished with the hat, I received an e-mail that said he didn’t want to go out anymore because he didn’t think about me when we weren’t together. What’s with guys ending things over e-mail? Hasn’t anyone ever heard of the telephone? It was, however, for the best. He found Christmas lights garish and disliked much about America and Americans, except for the warm Southern California climate that allowed him to drive his convertible with the top down.

The following August I met a hot surgical resident at a wedding who looked a lot like John Cusack and loved to fish. Apparently, I have a thing for fisherman. My first love was a fisherman, and since then, it seems nearly every man I go out with happens to have an overactive passion for hurtling fish from the sea. This new prospect lived across the country, but we corresponded throughout the fall and into the winter. After months of bi-coastal texts, e-mails, and phone calls, I decided to finish the cursed Scandinavian hat for him since he was always complaining about the cold in the Northeast. That January I went to Boston for a friend’s baby shower and managed to meet up with the surgeon. It was a frigid and snowy evening and as we ran down the street, he said, “I’m freezing. I wish I had a hat.” Although I hadn’t planned on giving him the hat right away (or perhaps at all), fate had intervened it seemed, so I dug into my purse and pulled out my beautiful blue and black, fleece-lined creation and gave it to him. After that night, I didn’t hear from him again for a very long time. Much later, I finally got the courage to contact him with the help of a hot bath, a few glasses of wine, and some muscle relaxants. It turned out he had commitment issues.

And this brings us to the present. Over the past five or six weeks, I’ve been seeing a tall, wholesome looking Midwestern scientist doing research for the navy in Monterey. He has an unnatural love for eggnog and recounted its virtues on numerous occasions. Yesterday was date number four. (We live two hours apart and have only been able to get together on weekends). Four dates seems to be my magic number. At that point, I feel like I can safely give a man something homemade. How wrong I was! While flipping through The Christmas Candy Book by Lou Seibert Pappas, I came across a recipe for eggnog truffles that I couldn’t resist. Before making the trek up the coast to see him, I spent the day tempering chocolate over a double boiler, grating nutmeg, and stirring rum to make decadent and beautiful truffles. Guess what? Things are over between us. While my feelings are still a bit raw about this one, since it only happened yesterday. I know it’s for the best. How can you trust a man who hates mushrooms and who says that kissing on the fourth date is moving too fast?

The Frenchman not calling after the boar sausage could have been an anomaly, but after a mix CD, two hats, and numerous other attempts to woo with the culinary arts, I should have learned my lesson. Perhaps next time I’ll know better…

The following recipe is Lou Seibert Pappas’ recipe for eggnog truffles. I am not usually a fan of white chocolate, but these truffles gave me a new outlook on the sweet substance (if not on men). While this confection may not bring you the love of your life and it could possibly even bring a budding romance to an abrupt end, it is extremely delicious and worth making. Eat the truffles while crying over a breakup, share them with a good friend while watching a sappy movie, or give them as holiday gifts to those whose love you’re sure of.

Unfortunately, I took every truffle to Monterey and do not have any photographs of the little masterpieces. Nor can I stuff my face with them while I start the process of yet again looking for a man to try not to cook for. Nevertheless, I encourage you to try them because they are so delicious and festive! They are a perfect addition to any holiday celebration.  

Eggnog Truffles to End a Budding Romance
(Adapted from Lou Seibert Pappas)

6 ounces (about 1 cup) white chocolate chips
*I used Ghiradelli Sublime White Vanilla Dream mini bars, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespooons light or dark rum
            *I used dark rum. It has a stronger flavor.
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 ounces (about 1 cup) bittersweet chocolate, chopped,
            or 6 ounces (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
            *I recommend using the darkest chocolate you can find. This will counteract the excessive   
              sweetness of the white chocolate.
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 ounce white chocolate

Melt the white chocolate chips with the cream in the top of a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum and nutmeg. Turn into a small container, cover, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a 1-inch scoop or melon baler, form the chocolate mixture into balls and drop onto the prepared baking sheet. Place in the freezer until frozen, 1 or 2 hours. (I couldn’t get them very frozen, but after two hours they were solid enough to use.)

Melt the bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips with the oil in the top of a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove the chocolate balls from the freezer, and line a second baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a fork, turn each frozen chocolate ball in the melted chocolate to coat evenly and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. If the chocolate cools too much, reheat it and continue coating the balls.

Melt the 1 ounce white chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water. Dip a small flexible metal spatula in the white chocolate and drizzle zigzag lines on top of each truffle.

Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes, before serving. To keep, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Makes 16 to 18 candies

This recipe is from:
Pappas, Lou Seibert, The Christmas Candy Book, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, California 2002.

If you like these truffles, please buy Pappas’ book or any of her many other delightful cookbooks.