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|Written by Will Parker|
|Wednesday, 15 July 2009 00:00|
When I was in undergrad, one Saturday morning my single female roommate decided to go to the grocery store and get the ingredients to bake banana bread. Now, my roommate was not exactly Julia Child, or for that matter, even Rachael Ray. Perhaps that’s why I took notice when she told me that she was embarking on a culinary social experiment. Back from the grocers, with ingredients on deck, I helped my roomie throw together a semi-decent banana loaf. The scent of vanilla, sugar and banana filled our house, and I was salivating by the time the fresh-baked bread came out of the oven. Unfortunately, my involvement in this culinary social experiment ended before I got to sample our wares. No sooner had the bread been turned out onto the cooling rack, I was informed by my straight-faced friend that this treat wasn’t for eating. In fact, this bread was her hopeful ticket to an easy life. My friend left for the University medical school library, loaf in hand, with the hopes of finding her future husband. I only then realized that it wasn’t banana bread – it was bait.
The banana bread theory, as she put it, held that you could hook a guy with a simple baked good. To be totally honest, though, as a biology student, the saying that the easiest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach never really held much weight for me. It’s a ridiculous implication that two entirely separate bodily systems would have any inter-relation beyond their own homeostatic functions. For starters, the heart has absolutely nothing to do with emotion, on top of which everything we do is arguably a result of evolutionary ideals and societal norms we place on our fellow human beings. Of course, it may have also been my own single status at the time that coloured my personal views on the heart with more pessimism than my roommate. In any event, I was more than surprised when she returned later that afternoon with a handful of phone numbers and a date with a third-year soon-to-be physician.
Fast forward a few years later and my pessimism had somewhat faded. Call it experimentation or desperation, having learned from the successes of my former roommate, I was more open to whatever it might take to hook Mr. Right. Nevertheless, for the most part I remained sceptical. While it may only take a half dozen cinnamon buns or an apple streusel to lure a straight guy, the gay world is an entirely different thing. First of all, half of us stopped eating carbs circa 2002. Secondly, most of the gay guys I knew were more interested in figuring out how to stuff other non-food items into their mouths. Still, I couldn’t knock it until I tried it, so I was willing to give it a chance and get busy in the kitchen.
I immediately started playing up my love of cooking. I added “experimenting with the Food Network” to my online profile interests, which already included reading fiction, seeing thriller movies, working out (haha), and live concerts. You can imagine my surprise when it took barely any effort at all to get a date with a dreamboat techie working for the feds. All I had to do was mention dinner and he was interested. Of course, I figured the interest stemmed more from a feeling of horny than it did hungry. Forgetting my promise of a culinary treat, I picked up some pre-made sandwiches and a box of cookies at the grocery store and brought them over for a first date.
My techie was not impressed. It seemed I had committed the same online fraud so many internet daters fall prey to at some time or another. No, I hadn’t given him a fake picture. I hadn’t embellished stories of my job or volunteer experience. I hadn’t even exaggerated about exactly what I was packing in my pants. None of that mattered because he was looking forward to a tasty dinner and I brought him grocery store sandwiches. I immediately realized my mistake, and begged him for a second chance. Being a pretty easy-going guy, he told me I could try again next week.
Of course, I pulled out all the stops – I hunted for recipes, gathered ingredients, got advice from my grandma and even purchased some random kitchen implements. I served him a stilton, walnut, endive and pear salad; beef bourguignon with fresh baked bread; and a quadruple chocolate loaf cake with vanilla bean ice cream. I bought complementary wines, set out candles and even used matching silverware. It did the trick. No sooner had he finished his cake than he was asking for “dessert.”
I guess it’s not all that surprising when you really think about it. Food can get you pretty far at times. I once volunteered in a university lab, and didn’t do anything other than bring in baked goods to my colleagues on a semi-regular basis. The professor in charge of the lab gave me a glowing recommendation for my post-graduate applications, actually writing in her letter about the dedication and hard work I brought to the team. I’m not sure what hard work she was referring to, but it is true – making cheese bread from scratch isn’t exactly a walk in the park. You may have encountered similar experiences on the job. Even if you’re kind of a dud, as long as you keep the homemade chocolate chip muffins coming in for your coworkers, people are more apt to like you regardless of your professional abilities.
That’s the power of food, I guess. While my roommate didn’t end up marrying her doctor, she was definitely on to something. As for me, some four years later, my techie continues to benefit from my culinary prowess. Sure it takes more than a loaf of banana bread to hook the right guy. But when faced with a choice between girl with banana bread and girl without banana bread, we all know which one we’d choose. That’s the banana bread theory. Learn it, live it, love it.