Towels: Your Kitchen Wingman
If you really want to make a statement while cooking for that special someone, then dress the part. Professional cooks wear a smock and a fancy hat, mostly because of hygiene requirements rather than an attempt to impress eaters. At home, it's okay to be more relaxed. You don't want hair in your food, but there's no need to wear a hat while you serve your main course, and you'll have more time than a sous chef who's scrambling to plate a six-top (a table with six customers).
What I'm getting at here is that you should have a companion in the kitchen to help you. The companion I'm talking about, of course, is the towel. The towel is the most important tool you can wear in the kitchen. (Yes, wear it!) Don't wear it around your waist, unless you're cooking bacon naked. (Take my word for it: The last thing you want to be explaining in the bedroom is a skin lesion on your sausage or lasagna.) Instead, toss it jauntily over a shoulder. This says, "I'm confident that I'm not going to spill down the front of me."
The towel is far more than a symbol of cleanliness — it's subtle, even debonair. When I picture James Bond in the kitchen, cooking foie gras for a honey named Pussy, I picture him with a towel tossed casually over his shoulder — exactly how you should wear it. I owe the pleasure of this trick to Marty, a friend's father who, at one time, probably was a secret agent; his wife sure is a lucky woman.
The towel, unlike the lowly apron, is inconspicuous. While an apron can be funny, especially when bears a slogan such as "Kiss Me I'm Irish," it says you are too eager. And, really, it covers up too much of your ensemble — keep in mind you should be dressed to impress. Along the same lines, a chef's hat says only, "I haven't been laid in ages, but hopefully this monkey trick will make you want to kiss me."
The towel speaks of confidence. You can casually wipe your hands on it while talking about your recipe, and it serves as a great mitt to wrap around your hand while pulling hot delicacies out of the oven. (Side note: Make sure your whole hand is covered with the towel. You want your hands to be protected yet nimble. The last thing you want is a wounded finger while trying to unclasp an undergarment.)
Believe me, a date (especially a woman) will be watching you in the kitchen. She will notice when you wash your hands after you touch any food (which you need to do — wash before touching anything, especially yourself, if you've been working with habaneros). Your guest will be excited that you're conscientious about keeping your hands clean.
Your towel will come in handy later, after the dishes are in the sink and you've retired to the couch with a bottle of champagne. Use the towel to gingerly inch the cork out of its hole — never let the cork shoot off, as though it were an excited schoolboy. The last thing you want is to prematurely blow it. The bottle should let out a husky sigh, not a loud, gushing pop (even though that can be fun, in the right setting).
So, there you are: on the couch, fumbling with something like buttons or lace as you laugh and touch. The scene is set and all your hard work in the kitchen has paid off, but the next move can be dangerous —unless, of course, you have your trusty towel.
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