Chocolate-Covered Spice?

Which couldn’t you live without—cheese, chocolate, red meat or ice cream? For a plurality of respondents to a Food & Wine/America Online survey, chocolate was the sine qua non (cited by 46 percent). Cheese edged red meat as runner-up (22 percent to 21 percent), while ice cream was a distant also-ran (11 percent). Maybe ice cream fared poorly because it’s seldom spicy. Asked how spicy they like their food, 22 percent said they “crave fire” and 53 percent said they “like food with a kick.” Odds are that many people have given these matters plenty of thought: 18 percent “never stop thinking about food” and 10 percent think of it “as often as I think about sex”; just 9 percent think about it “only at meal times.” The poll detected an intriguing gender gap about cooking. While 55 percent said a man who cooks is sexy, just 25 percent said the same of a woman who cooks. A cooking woman was more apt to be described as “capable” (42 percent) or “motherly” (32 percent). When it comes to restaurants, the foremost peeve was “waiters who disappear” (cited by 23 percent). But other patrons can be irksome, too. Given the chance to condemn “the most annoying dating behavior at a restaurant,” 46 percent said it’s when the man and woman are feeding each other.