Roger happily allowed me to pick his brains about dating and burgers from an older and married man’s perspective on Monday during our lunch breaks. We talked about food as a social lubricant, the couples-culture of his university days and ended up delving into deeper relationship questions. Date #12 was at Astoria on Lambton Quay for the squeals-like-a-pig Deliverance Burger.
Roger is part of the family I have adopted as my Wellington family. I’ve had many beautiful meals and many great conversations around their kitchen table. He has a great love of food and travel and family, and brought with him a refreshing perspective on dating as a concept.
In his university days they did things in couples. He explained how there wasn’t even that much of a dating culture back then - people coupled up rather quickly. A ball or dance called for a date, and socialising was done at bars (pre 11pm) and parties too. Dinners out didn’t really happen, although you might have taken your girlfriend for a meal at a hotel restaurant for a special occasion like a birthday. He said the great thing about now is that the infrastructure (cafes and restaurants, and bars) exists for a dating culture to happen. He said we need it, and back then once the inevitable de-coupling happened it meant relearning basic skills like how to ask a girl out.
Now, we all know (some of us more than others) about alcohol being a social lubricant, but what Roger argued was that food is one that is just so much better. More sophisticated. Without coming to a conclusion about what constitutes a “date” per se, Roger explained how sometimes a date can be essentially an entree to a relationship, and what better way to test the water than with food. You’re given an instant talking point, the flavours can evoke memories; it is a great conversation starter and through that conversation you are given indicators to the long-term too (if potential long-term is what you’re after in a date: something I had to point out was very often not the case).
The other thing of course is if there’s no spark then at least you’ve got something out of it. Opposed to that is the notion of just going for a drink: if that goes badly all you’re left with is a hangover. “If it turns out you don’t like the guy at least you’ve had a bloody good meal.”
Fascinating stuff for Monday lunch, and lunch was essentially a pulled-pork sloppy-joe. Just like we’d pondered what does a date mean, our plate raised a similarly existential question: what constitutes a burger?
The Astoria contribution to Burger Wellington is on a homemade untoasted bun, which is soft and fresh and delicious. The bun is adorned with coleslaw and pulled pork with homemade barbecue sauce. The gherkin garnish ended up being a crucial cut-through to the tasty pork and barbecue combination. Proportionately, I could have done with less pork and more coleslaw, but the homemade crisps on the side were great. For Roger, a burger requires a toasted bun and a patty. In front of us was a very tasty lunch, but there was no going near this unless valiantly armed with a knife and fork.
The conversation continued. Couples who are great as individuals and as a couple. Dates as a fascinating form of social engagement. Food as a much better medium for dating (and seduction) than drinking. He even confessed that the immaturity shown by males in their twenties now is nowhere near as bad as it was in his day. Which is only slightly frightening!
As well as being the older man, the married man, and the imparter of sage advice, Roger is also my ex-boyfriend’s uncle; the ex of the Heartbreak that went with the Pie. Part of breaking up I think, part of what makes it so goddamn awful, is the worry about losing and breaking all the other relationships you’ve formed as a result of your now defunct liaison. I feel incredibly grateful that my friendship with this family has been so unaffected. It snowed as we left, which was a little bit magical, and Roger emailed me afterwards to say thanks, and “the date was fun!” Which is of course another important dating tip. A wise summing up and some interesting food for thought.
The vital stats:
Roger gave the burger 6/10 for its lack of patty.
We both agreed though that the gherkins were great! He thought it was ambitious, but tasty, and as already mentioned the home made crisps were ideal. The date was great too - 8/10!
Thanks Roger for your wisdom and a huge thank you to Astoria for it’s wonderful service from start to finish. Cheers!