The following is part two of a two-article series on how to prepare and serve a romantic meal at home by Chef Dan Moody, The RelationChef. To read Part I, please click here to read it!
Part II: The Ambiance
In Part I of this article, I discussed the importance of creating intimacy by showing your significant other that you have paid attention to their likes and dislikes, and making an effort to accommodate those preferences.
One important thing to point out is that paying attention, fostering intimacy, and creating a romantic evening must be your only goal for the evening. Sex cannot be your end game, because then the romance you’re attempting to create won’t be genuine. You may hope for, but should not expect, sex as a result of creating a romantic evening.
A good Mormon friend of mine once explained to me why, as he put it, “Mormons are great kissers.” He explained, “With most people, kissing is a destination on the way to sex. For us, kissing is the destination: we get good at it.” Analogously, if you really want to create a romantic evening, the romantic evening must be your destination: it cannot be something you are performing as a perfunctory step towards bedding your date.
Beyond the meal itself, ambiance for your home cooked meals has two major components, the décor and the music.
- The Décor
Dressing your place up and creating a fantasy you both play along with that you’re somewhere you’re not is part of the magic of a romantic meal at home. The fact that you are the only two people in the world involved in that particular fantasy with each other at that moment is a big part of the intimacy you’re creating. Depending on how imaginative (and ambitious) you are, you can take these fantasies in all directions, and you can totally transform your dining room; or you can simply put out candles, flowers, and a tablecloth (all of which are necessary components of a romantic dinner at home, in my book).
Do you go with the almost clichéd roses? Eh, depends on your date. Guys, there’s a reason this is a cliché. Women see the sappy romantic dinners in all the “chick flicks” you reluctantly watch with them, and, with apologies to Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) in Pretty Woman, “they want the fairytale.” So, going with roses is always a good default option: it says that you know the basic ground rules and that you’re trying to give them the fairytale. That said, the women I’ve dated have always appreciated more that I know their favorite flower and have those on the table insteadof roses. Ladies, most guys don’t care about the flowers; save your money if you’re making dinner for us.
Candles: You can’t really go wrong – but you can certainly overdo it. Do avoid strongly scented candles, because the scent can interfere with your taste during the meal. In terms of quantity: A few candles says: “I’m trying to be romantic and woo you….so we can have sex later.” Too many candles says: “Can we please get this dinner out of the way so we can have sex? On second thought, I’ll take you right here on the dinner table.” There’s a time and place for both, but I find the latter option to be more about lust than romance -maybe that’s my old-fashioned nature showing through. One, two, or maybe three candles should be enough. Please note that candlelight-only dinners are annoying more so than charming. They’re something you do when the power goes out and you have no other options. Candles are for ambiance only: use lights with dimmers, or indirect light from another room.
Linens: A tablecloth goes a long way in dressing the place up to make it look more formal. Here’s one place where I’ll take a definitive stance: use a white tablecloth. I don’t care if your date’s favorite color is pink, blue, green, mauve…go with white. If you must, throw favorite colors in with a placemat. If the fantasy you’re building requires some color other than white (e.g. maybe you use a red and white checkered tablecloth for a picnic), then go for it, but you can’t, in my opinion, ever go wrong with a white tablecloth.
- The Music
Forget trying to create the ambiance of a formal environment to pretend you’re somewhere you’re not when it comes to music. You want the music to put you both in a good mood…a good mood, not a sexual mood. Take Sade and Barry White off your playlist. No Sexual Healing either. Those are for the “lots of candles” nights, or maybe at the very tail end of your playlist for a romantic dinner.
Play music you listen to together that puts you both in a good mood: Music that gets you both tapping your feet, dancing in your chairs, and singing along with the lyrics.
At the end of the day, it’s quite simple: Create intimacy. Show your significant other that you love them, by actively loving them. Do things that show you’ve paid attention to your significant other, and that you are accommodating their needs. Create an environment that allows both of you to be involved in a fantasy together. Play music that shows your significant other that you love them for the person they are and that you are there to have a good time with them, enjoy their company, and share in a fun experience. Make romance your destination.