This article appears as part of the Food Matters newsletter.

There are very few times in life that I dread the thought of a meal. 

In fact, I’m not ashamed to say I’m one of those people, the kind who will quiz co-workers on their packed lunches or dinner plans, and gleefully look up the menu online the night before to ensure I’m well-prepped before the waiter arrives at the table. 

But, as a woman in her late twenties who has slowly learned that dating apps are an online wasteland where the worst of humanity congregates, there’s one exception to an otherwise unwavering love for all things food. 

Dinner dates. 

‘But you’ve just written a Top 10 that’s all about ‘romantic restaurant dates’!

This is true, because I realise that not everyone is as much of a wuss as I, and that they might consider the only positive of a dull date to be a plate of food for distraction. 

More than that I’m a firm believer in the idea that sharing a good meal with someone you love is one of life’s greatest joys and speaks to the power our food holds for creating human connections. 

Read more:

Food Matters | 'Are you aware you're a full ten minutes late?' ...uhm, excuse me?

Here I make my case for FIRST date dinners to be banned forever more. 

Let’s stop pretending that it’s fun to sit and ponder if the other person might want to share small plates or choose their own, if they too are going to go for the large glass of wine instead of medium, or if that tomato red arrabiata pasta is really worth the risk of a stained shirt. 

And whoever enjoyed a meal more for having to stop and start the conversation, fork suspended in mid-air as you answer the dire ‘Where did you grow up? What do you do in your spare time’ type questions that are ubiquitous in a first-time meeting. 

The Herald:
No. For someone whose professional and personal life so often revolves around food, I draw the line here. 

Go play mini golf or something equally inoffensive instead and wait until you know your new friend well enough to point out that they have spinach stuck in their teeth without causing embarrassment.  

Perhaps the only situation more daunting than a dinner date with another “Adam/Matthew/Jamie, 29, loves: Gym Sundays and Christopher Nolan films”, is a restaurant reservation with an acclaimed food critic whose work you’ve read religiously for close to a decade. 

You see, although our ever-so-professional headshots often sit side-by-side on these pages, until last week I had never met The Herald’s Ron Mackenna despite often citing him as an inspiration. 

It was surreal to see a master at work, and later read the exact meal I had shared translated so well into a balanced review that fully encapsulated the full experience in print, from the lacklustre prawn paradelle to a punchy pesto sauce that saved the day. 

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I’d be green with envy of his skills – if I wasn’t so impressed. 

You can read Ron's review of Il Pastaio in Glasgow city centre here, and find his next posted on The Herald website this weekend alongside all of our latest food and drink updates. 

For anyone who is choosing to go out for dinner for a first date on Valentine’s Day I commend you on your bravery, and wish you the best luck. 

Just try your best not to talk with your mouth full.