"Warning: A cute move with beer and pizza ONLY works if you're Ben Affleck."
This is the sort of advice that makes Rocky Fino's Will Cook for Sex absolutely required reading for anyone facing challenges in the kitchen (and bedroom). Here's the basic premise: when you're on a date, the interested party wants to feel special. Men tend to like it when women dress up or put on makeup (if the bastards even notice); women appreciate it when men bathe within a week of the date. But the real zingers are those gestures that, though they may be brief or fleeting, evidence hours of careful forethought and preparation. In other words, a tasty meal.
California Pizza Kitchen used to have a dessert called the cookies 'n' creme tartuffo. It was a masterwork of chocolate, cream, calories and significantly reduced lifespan. One night, I served one to a high school unrequited sweetheart. As she ate it, she made all the joyous, ecstatic sounds I'd always wanted to hear from her, albeit not quite in that context. I can't help but imagine how she would have regarded me if I had made the dish myself—if I were capable of giving her such pleasure any time, any place (provided a well-stocked kitchen was nearby). Affleck can get away with a six-pack of Negra Modelo and some Meat Lovers, but for the rest of us, perhaps it's time we learned to braise an endive.
And that's the beauty of Fino's book. It won't help you impress foodies. It won't teach you what wine to match with foie gras. But it just might help you get laid.
Rocky Fino signs copies of his book Will Cook for Sex: A Guy's Guide to Cooking at Book Soup, South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 689-2665; www.booksoup.com. Sat., 3 p.m. Free.