What foods do Sporkful listeners resolve to eat more of in the new year, and why? And what’s Dan’s New Year’s food resolution for 2022? All is revealed in our annual year-end spectacular. Plus we replay one of our favorite episodes of the year… It’s not for foodies, it’s for lovers! Earlier this year we put out the call for Sporkful listeners looking for love, and hundreds of you responded. We listen in on two blind Zoom dates that resulted from our extremely unscientific matchmaking. Is The Sporkful enough of a spark to ignite a grease fire of passion for two eaters? Or will these dates turn as cold as take-out fries?
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- "Sweet Summer Love" by Stephen Sullivan
- "Company" by Hayley Briasco
- "Mambo" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
- "Dreamin'" by Erick Anderson
- "Summer Getaway" by Stephen Clinton Sullivan
- "Beep Boop" by Dylan Myers
- "Silver Bucket Seat" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
CLIP (BOBBY WALKER): Hey, Dan, my name is Bobby Walker from Gulf Shores, Alabama. My food resolution in 2022 is to eat more fish and seafood. I live on the Gulf Coast, but between being busy with life and hurricanes, I've had little time for fishing in the past year. So in 2022, if I'm eating more seafood, that means I've actually taken the time to relax and catch clean and cook more fish, crabs, and shrimp. Thanks and happy New Year!
CLIP (MEGAN): Hi, Dan. My name is Megan and I live in Madison, Wisconsin. My New Year's food resolution is to try out some recipes from my new cookbooks. My family cleaned out my grandparents house, and my dad brought me some promotional pamphlet cookbooks from various companies from the '50s and '60s. So think '60s cheese balls with Cheerios on them ... [LAUGHS] and my resolution for this year is to try out some of these crazy recipes.
CLIP (DALE): My name is Dale. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. For 2022, my goal is to eat more tofu next year. I just turned 70 and I realized that you really perhaps need to do a little bit more with eating a little bit healthier, along with the fact I keep getting nudges for my crazy vegan pastor. So we'll see how this all goes.
Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters. I’m Dan Pashman. You know that each week on our show, we obsess about food to learn more about people. That's what we do here, O.K.? And if I sound a little bit punchy, it's because I am. It's because this is our year end spectacular episode the last Sporkful of 2021. I hope that wherever you are that this finds you staying safe and healthy, spending time with friends and loved ones, and eating delicious food. Obviously, it's been quite a year here in Sporkland with Cascatelli and all that. I don't even know if you saw, I put it on social media, it was on the cover of Time magazine, the pasta, as one of the best inventions of 2021. So that's — that was kind of bonkers. So I just want to say thank you to all of you for supporting our show, for being so excited about the pasta. And I'm also just very grateful to the folks who make The Sporkful with me. This is a team effort. We've got senior producer Emma Morgenstern, producer Andres O'Hara, our editor Tracey Samuelson, our engineer Jared O'Connell, our E.P.'s Daisy Rosario and Peter Clowney. Thank you to everyone who makes this show a success.
Dan Pashman: So what are we doing here? It's our New Year's spectacular episode. I don't have a script. It's like, you know, putting my feet up its end of the year, O.K.? But I do have a plan, there's a loose outline. Later in the show reveal to you my New Year's food resolution, the food that I resolved to eat more of in the New Year and we'll also show one of our favorite episodes from this year. But first, let's hear a few more of your New Year's food resolutions.
CLIP (TIFFANY): This is Tiffany calling from Oakland, California. In 2022, I resolve to eat and make Spam musubi. Whenever someone brings it to a potluck, that is the first thing I put on my plate. Not only will I read up on its origin, I'm going to learn how to make it myself too, and try it in different ways. Breakfast musubi with eggs and cheese, kimchi musubi, deep fried musubi. The possibilities are endless and my taste buds cannot be more excited.
CLIP (SARAH): My name is Sarah. I'm from Bloomington, Indiana. My New Year's food resolution is to eat more food made with my daughter. I have a two-year-old daughter who loves to be by my side, and she just — she loves cooking with me, and it's so fun to share that with her. This Thanksgiving, I spent a lot of time cooking with my mom, and I realized how important that kitchen time with my mom has been through my life and how much I cherish it still, and I hope that I can continue to share that with my daughter.
CLIP (NATHAN): Hello, Sporkful team. This is Nathan from Hickory, North Carolina, and my resolution is to eat more mushrooms. I was always that guy who grew up hating them because they were just little slivers of slimy somethings on salads or pizzas. But I found this wonderful mushroom guy. He's at our local farmer's market. He convinced me to try them and I'm a convert, and I just want to keep on exploring this entire new kingdom of life that I have not eaten before.
CLIP (DON BACON): My name is Don Bacon and I'm from Ukraine. In 2022, I'm going to eat more — you probably already guessed — bacon. Yeah. Cause well ... could there be too much bacon? I don't think so. Furthermore, I'm currently in the weight gain process, so I'm really trying to focus on eating more, eating better, and of course, eating more pleasant bacon.
Dan Pashman: Lots of good ones in there, I also just love hearing where you're sending messages from. I love knowing that we're connecting with people all over, from Alabama to Wisconsin to Ukraine. So thanks everyone and we'll have more of your resolutions and mine coming up later in the show. But now it's time for another one of our traditions here on the Sporkful for our year end episode, and that is that the team and I kind of sit down and we pick an episode to repeat and we have certain criteria for how we pick this episode.
Dan Pashman: First, it can't be from the last couple of months. It has to be from earlier in the year. And then beyond that, it has to be an episode that we, the folks who make The Sporkful, really love. So Emma, Andres, Jared, and Tracy and I, in particular, we really like this episode, but it wasn't one that got the most attention. So it's not going to be like a past episode, O.K.? It's one that we really liked, but we felt like maybe — I don't know. Maybe you maybe you all were busy that week. It didn't quite get the response that we wanted it to get. And so we say, let's ... let's play it again. Maybe folks missed it the first time around? This one was a lot of fun to put together. I'm not going to ... I'm not going to set it up at all. I'm just gonna click play but I think you're going to like it and we'll be back with more New Year's food resolutions later in the show. All right, here you go.
CLIP (WILL): That thing you share with my mom. Um, it's like a great pro tip that you should compare your date to your mom on a first date, right? Um...
CLIP (MICKEY): Especially, as like a gay man.
CLIP (WILL): Right, right. Exactly. Yeah.
Dan Pashman: A few months ago, we put out the call for Sporkful listeners looking for love. The idea? We'd set up some couples and send them on blind Zoom dates. More than 300 of you responded to our call from all over the world. Then we got to matchmaking. Now, the dating apps all brag about their process. They use complex algorithms to match you on dozens of criteria. We basically did the opposite of that. We matched people based on where they live and what genders and ages they're looking to date. Well, that and the fact that we know they're Sporkful fans.
Dan Pashman: After talking to dozens of potential daters, we narrowed it down to the two dates you'll hear today. We were curious, could listening to The Sporkful be the spark that ignites a grease fire of passion for two eaters? Could The Sporkful be the fertile soil out of which true love grows like a voluptuous head of cabbage and most important, in a year or two or three, will I finally be able to officiate my first Sporkful wedding? Before I get too far ahead of myself, let's go over our ground rules. All the dates were on Zoom because of Covid, but we still asked our daters to order from the same restaurant so they could have that shared food experience. We paired people who live nearby, so that if the dates of success, they can hang out in person if they choose. Before the dates, we had each person record a voice message for the other person to hear. No photos were exchanged in advance.
Dan Pashman: O.K., that music means it's time to hear those pre-date messages from our first couple, Sloane and Brian and Sloan.
CLIP (SLOAN): I’m Sloan. I am 28-years-old. I live in Redondo Beach, CA. I am a model, actress, and a personal trainer. So. uh, yeah. My whole life is focused around sports and fitness.
CLIP (BRIAN): Hello Sporkful. My legal name is Brian but friends call me Panda, among other expletives depending on how drunk they happen to be. I’m 28. I live in Buena Park, CA which is smack dab between L.A. and Orange County. San Diego, I’m sorry, you only exist to me during ComicCon. I am a 3D character artist by trade and career.
CLIP (SLOAN): I, actually, played baseball in college, like on the men’s team. I was the first female to play baseball in my high school and my university.
CLIP (BRIAN): A little bit more about myself, I have been playing bagpipes, Scottish Highland bagpipes, cumulatively for 6 years. I just got my kilt actually in Glasgow from Macgregor and Macduff. I’ve been doing standup comedy for roughly 2 years. For a time I was doing sets out of my car window at random people on the L.A. street. I dance a lot, and definitely being a foodie around this whole in L.A. and Orange County.
CLIP (SLOAN): I’m looking for a best friend. I’m looking for someone that wants to travel the world with me and eat their way through the world. Someone that is extremely active. I am extremely active. Among my many nicknames, I’m known as the Energizer Bunny.
CLIP (BRIAN): I’m looking for someone who’s proactive, independent, acridly witty, or somebody who, you know, doesn’t just have a sense of humor but is actually attempting to make funny. And someone who is intimidating, hopefully.
CLIP (SLOAN): I am excited to get a free dinner date from The Sporkful. I love you guys. So yeah! Right on! Cheers guys.
CLIP (BRIAN): Let's see, I mean, I’m excited to check out what’s gonna happen with this Sporkful date, anything could happen, frankly. Thank you so much, and I'm signing off.
Dan Pashman: So Brian and Sloan are the same age, they’re both outgoing, they seem to have big personalities. Will it be a match? Time to find out...
Dan Pashman: You’re gonna hear clips from the date, which is just Brian and Sloan without me there. And you’ll hear the confessionals, where I recapped with each of them separately. All right, let’s start the date!
CLIP (SLOAN): Hi Brian!
CLIP (BRIAN): Nice to meet you, Sloan.
CLIP (SLOAN): Oh my gosh, nice to meet you. This is so crazy.
CLIP (BRIAN): Yeah.
CLIP (SLOAN): But, um ... did you get Sugarfish, too?
Sloan: The first I thought have when Brian comes on is, the sushi smells really good and I just really want to start eating, if I’m totally honest. Brian: She likes wine, because there’s like a display of like wine, which to me, reminded me of old frat houses I’ve been to where, you know, they'll stack beer cans. Dan Pashman: Do you find Sloan attractive? Brian: Yeah. Sloan: His personality to me was very attractive. I thought he was really easy to talk to, very open, confident, I like that about him. But not initially, not physically what I would … I wouldn’t immediately be like, ooh, I wanna sleep with that guy.
Brian: If I may call them self-doubts or insecurities, they don’t hit me as hard as other people. I think I make the assumption that I’m not attractive, but I know I’m so good at these other things that I’m good to go. Um ...
Dan Pashman: What you’re telling me is anything you may lack in looks you think you can make up for in charm.
Brian: Charm, talent abilities, like, Lord knows. There’s an unreasonable amount of confidence in knowing who I am already and being able to lean in on those strengths to hold my own in those situations. Like throw me to the Met Gala and I’ll have a great time.
Dan Pashman: This isn’t the Met Gala — so we’ll only get to see how Brian fares on a Zoom dinner date over takeout sushi. Sloan suggested that they both order from Sugarfish. It’s a small chain of sushi spots in LA and New York. They do omakase-style sushi, so you can order a box that comes with all different types of raw fish and accompanying sauces.
Sloan: So I had a lot of friends who had posted that this is their new pandemic date night and like, oh, how good it is. So I was like, this could work. And I feel like it’s a good conversation starter, like all the different types that we had. It was good. I liked it. Brian had some negative thoughts.
CLIP (SLOAN): Ohhh. I’m so excited for this. Have you ever had Sugarfish?
CLIP (BRIAN): I’ve had it once. I’ve admittedly avoided it for most of my existence.
CLIP (SLOAN): No! Why? Why? Why? Tell me.
CLIP (BRIAN): I recognize that they were trying to position themselves, and correct me if I’m wrong, to be a mid-scale but still high quality sushi place, like a place you can jump into on a Wednesday night with friends.
CLIP (SLOAN): Right. O.K., O.K., and why is that a bad thing?
CLIP (BRIAN): It’s not a bad thing, but after watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, there was this mental switch that kicked in where I’m like, "If I’m gonna eat sushi, I’m gonna wait till I can splurge for it at specific locations instead of this chain sushi restaurant, which I assuming is doing a great job, but I have admittedly higher priorities."
CLIP(SLOAN): I've never had it before so far the edamame is like good ...
Sloan: So when he said that I was like, awww, I thought this was a good choice for a sushi date. But he warmed up to it, and I think he realized that I thought this was fun to do. So I feel like he was a little bit more forgiving towards me.
Brian: The Sugarfish caught me off guard, because I mean in a city with so much diverse food, and not just that but individual chefs and artistic chefs who are so hell-bent on their visions, like there are other opportunities to find better sushi, or more story-filled sushi than Sugarfish. But at the same time it’s not to say, like, she’s not the only one that has stated that she likes Sugarfish, and it speaks more to my hoity-toitiness on that front, as a foodie.
Dan Pashman: Brian and Sloan both grew up in the L.A. area, and early in the date they realize that Sloan played baseball near where Brian lived. They bond over the sandwiches from Lee’s, which was a local shop when they were growing up, but has now gone nationwide. They continue to chat about food, swapping stories of some of their favorite meals in recent years ...
CLIP (BRIAN): And my digging into L.A., whether it’s that one time I pissed off Roy Choi on New Year’s Day...
CLIP (SLOAN): Wow.
CLIP (BRIAN): And this long conversation I had with April Jackson over at Three Little Birds over in London.
CLIP (SLOAN): Oh, wow. I actually in London. So ... yeah.
Sloan: When it comes to name dropping, I could have easily turned it back on him. It’s not … I wasn’t impressed. I’ve worked with Megan Rapinoe and Lebron James. So ... that’s cool though. Can Roy Choi come make us dinner because that’ll really turn me on.
CLIP (SLOAN): So where is your favorite food destination?
CLIP (BRIAN): Apart from L.A., just because we’re very privileged to be here …
CLIP (SLOAN): Is it really L.A.? Is it really your favorite? It’s so not my favorite. I’m seventh generation Angeleno, interestingly enough.
CLIP (BRIAN): O.K. Wow. O.K.
CLIP (SLOAN): I know.
CLIP (BRIAN): I’m still married to this idea of like tacos, sweat, and gasoline with L.A. but I think most of my interests presently are pushing into stuff that are — is much — I would think is more obscure. I know there's a big push on the Filipino food ...
Sloan: I think that the problem with the L.A. food scene, there always has to be something amplified like a gastronomic foam that’s been infused with lavender and put on top of this piece of sashimi. So you’re like, O.K., so like it’s foam on fish.
Dan Pashman: The thing that turns you off about food in L.A. is essentially is when it feels like it’s trying too hard.
Dan Pashman: Which also seems to be the issue you’re running into with Brian.
Sloan: [SIGHS] Dan, are you my new therapist? Can we do this once a week? Wow.
Dan Pashman: Sure, my rates are very reasonable.
Sloan: Huh? This is an interesting connection you’re making. I guess, you’re right. Yeah. The L.A. food scene tries too hard, and maybe in a lot — in some ways, no offense to Brian. Again, great guy. But I think you’re right. There were a lot of moments where it was just kind of like,I just don’t care.
CLIP (SLOAN): If you can see behind me, my mom and I backpacked through Italy for a month last October, and pretty much ate and drank our way all through Italy.
CLIP (BRIAN): Hot damn.
CLIP (SLOAN): So I've done a lot of eating — yeah, I know. It was pretty epic. Um, I've done a lot of eating …
Brian: She clearly has adventured and eaten her way through the world in a remarkably different way from me. I mean, her conversation about her trips through Italy and other Western European countries, like those are narratives I’ve heard before from other friends. And I’m only saying that in contrast to me, which like my immediate — or relatively immediate travel plans before quarantine hit was to go to Kenya or Nigeria to get a handle on Afrobeat dance there. And also, eat my way through, you know, whatever jollof rice happens to me back in that country among other things. But that’s from what I would assume is a fundamentally different perception of what people my age would prioritize as travel.
Dan Pashman: You felt like that choice of Sugarfish was a little bit like kind of middle of the road, not that interesting to you compared to other types of sushi. And also similar thing with the travel and the places she’s gone versus where you’d be interested in going, is that it felt a little bit middle of the road ...
Brian: Right, as a first instinct, but I want to still qualify by me saying, I am probably underserving and underestimating the possibilities and adventures that those locations provide.
Dan Pashman: Sloan talks about her trip to Italy with her mom for several more minutes, until …
CLIP (SLOAN): O.K. I’ll keep this story short because I feel like it’s been going on and on.
CLIP (BRIAN): It has been but I like listening. [LAUGHS]
CLIP (SLOAN): Aw, thank you! And then finished in Rome.
Sloan: In that statement, I didn’t see it as flirty. I just thought it as like really thoughtful.
Dan Pashman: Brian, when you said, yeah, the story has being going for a while but I like listening ... was that flirting? Was that what you were going for?
Brian: Deliberately, yes. I have yet to admit that most of the time, I am going out of my way to make sure the other person’s being listened, like by me. In my limited emotional intelligence, I know like that I’m like a selfish person. I’m very good at pontificating myself and having a large ego. I need to make the effort on my end to make sure the other person’s heard, that they get the space, because I know I can steamroll very quickly, and I can be verbose as you’ve seen throughout this conversation.
CLIP (BRIAN): Mexican spicy, I would describe as like, it just hurts you. Like, [SLAP]. And then Korean spicy tends to be like a B.D.S.M., like they’ll slap you, but there’s a little sugar at the end. It's a little after-care, at least.
CLIP (SLOAN): O.K.
CLIP (BRIAN): So then, getting into Spanish food ...
Brian: So I’m Korean American … but at least for Korean food, it feels like a genuine, to me, a description of what Korean culture is to some degree where there’s this intensity of emotion and anger. And I would hope that framing in like as B.D.S.M. but there is a sweetness at the end, is indicative of not just Korean food, but how the people I ethnically identify with are coming from.
Dan Pashman: Sloan, what did you think of Brian’s B.D.S.M. joke, comparing Korean food to B.D.S.M.?
Sloan: I did not hear that.
Dan Pashman: Oh.
Sloan: He said that?!
Dan Pashman: Yeah, yeah.
Sloan: Oh, I missed that completely. I’m glad I did. That’s a pretty big statement for a first date. Yeah, that’s a big step for the first time meeting someone.
Dan Pashman: So are Sloan and Brian a match? Will they choose to see each other again? Later in the show we’ll hear the final moments of their date, and get answers to those questions. But before that, we’ll go on a date with couple #2. And we’ll hear more of your new year’s food resolutions and mine. Stick around.
+++ BREAK +++
Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful. I'm Dan Pashman. And, hey, you know, I mentioned earlier that we have a great team who makes The Sporkful here and if you want to connect with all of us a little bit more, subscribe to our newsletter because every week you send out a newsletter and we tell you what everyone who works in The Sporkful is eating and reading, so it's a good way to connect with culture, get some ideas about what to make for dinner, or just want to go out and buy. It's fun. Subscribe to the newsletter at Sporkful.com/newsletter. Now, before we get back to our dates, let's hear a few more of your New Year's food resolutions.
CLIP (KYLE): My name is Kyle and I live in Huntington, Indiana. This year, my wife and I opened a bakery, and currently she's the main one working there, making all kinds of sweet treats. My goal is to be able to put more into the business this year. I'm making bread. I've gotten a couple of breads down really well, like sandwich bread, focaccia, but I really want to branch out and do more things like sourdough and rye. So I want to eat more bread in 2022.
CLIP (ALEX): Hi, my name is Alex, and I currently live in Melbourne, Australia. In 2022, I plan to eat more of the food that I have grown myself because at the start of 2022, I am moving to 10 acres in regional Victoria and it has an orchard and strawberries and a big veggie patch. So I'm looking forward to eating what I grow.
CLIP (JAMES): Hi, this is James from Boulder, and I resolved to eat more salty, processed foods in 2022. I was recently diagnosed with a mild case of hyponatremia from literally eating too much fresh produce, so I guess it's time to live a little and indulge a bit more.
CLIP (AMIEE): Hi, this is Amiee Noel from Dayton, Ohio, and in 2022 I resolved to get to the bottom of my freezer. We have one of those deep chest freezers in our basement and I have not seen the bottom of it since we bought it over a decade ago. There are things in there that have been there so long they might as well be considered heirlooms. So those wonderful tomatoes from two years ago, they're going in a chili next year. You're my witness. Wish me luck.
Dan Pashman: So James, I'm not familiar with that condition, but I don't know that you need a medical diagnosis to eat more salty, processed snacks. I mean, look, all things in moderation, including moderation. That's what I say. O.K.? A bag of Doritos once in a while is probably good for you spiritually.
Dan Pashman: Now back to The Sporkful Dating Game. Let’s meet our second couple!
CLIP (MICKEY): My name is Mickey. I use he/him pronouns. I am a 28-year-old program data manager for housing nonprofit in Seattle.
CLIP (WILL): Hi, my name is Will. I am twenty-four. I work full time as a software engineer at Google.
CLIP (MICKEY): Existing on the larger side and being gay, I've always felt undateable. The gay world centers around body image, and that's very apparent by the labels that we give each other. So in 2020, I decided to lose weight and I've lost about 120 pounds through dieting and working out.
CLIP (WILL): One of my big quarantine projects has been building this big hydroponic farm in my really small apartment. I am what you might call a plant gay. I do like the idea that, like in the apocalypse, I would be able to grow food.
CLIP (MICKEY): I think humor and an inquisitive mind are my top two characteristics in a date.
CLIP (WILL): Whenever I'm on a first date, I want to get into the nitty gritty of something A.S.A.P. Like, are we living in a simulation?
CLIP (MICKEY): Controversial food opinions. I do not understand the appeal to mochi donuts and I will not entertain a debate about this, but Filipino brunch is the best brunch ever.
CLIP (WILL): I think that mashed potatoes are an abomination. I think they are baby food and I think that anybody who has adult teeth has no business eating them.
CLIP (MICKEY): I haven't been on a date since 2018, so thanks to The Sporkful for setting me up.
CLIP (WILL): I am excited to make Dan officiate my wedding.
Dan Pashman: Will and Mickey both live in Seattle. They met for a Zoom date the week before Thanksgiving. Mickey was actually quarantining in a hotel room, so he could see his family for the holiday. O.K., let’s start the date!
CLIP (WILL): Hey Mickey.
CLIP (MICKEY): Nice to meet you.
CLIP (WILL): It's nice to meet you, too. How's it going?
CLIP (MICKEY): It's going well. How are you?
CLIP (WILL): I'm doing ... I'm doing well. I don't know if ....
Dan Pashman: So Will, what did you do to prepare for this date?
Will: Yeah, O.K. So there were two things. One was — this is kind of silly, but I have like a towel hanging from my um ... my oven handle.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Will: And it's like always just kind of bunched up and thrown on there. And I very specifically went and, like, folded it and had it hanging directly kind of up and down so that it looked like my life was together because this towel was like folded on my oven and handle correctly.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS] Right.
Will: And the other thing was I tilted the camera specifically so that I have this ukulele hanging on the wall next to my desk. And I wanted that in frame because I was prepared to pull it down and serenade him.
Dan Pashman: Mickey, did you by any chance notice the ukulele?
Mickey: I did. I wanted to ask about the ukulele, but it seemed like we had bigger topics to speak about.
Dan Pashman: And did you notice the towel that was hanging on the oven handle?
Mickey: I didn’t.
Dan Pashman: And how much thought are you putting into what's in your camera shot?
Mickey: I actually did not think about this at all. I'm at a hotel and I did not pack anything. My comfort outfit is a tank and shorts. And so all I have is a jacket, and I didn't think about it. I forgot that this is an actual date. And Zoom is — you know, when I have meetings, I usually turn my camera off and I forgot that you can’t do that on a date. So ...
Dan Pashman: So Will’s a planner. Mickey not so much. Also, Will's 24, he seems to be more in a post-college phase, just starting his career. Mickey is in his late 20s, so he’s been working for longer now. But as the date gets going, they seem to be hitting it off.
CLIP (WILL): I've never ... I've never been, like super into makeup, but one of the things that has been, especially on Zoom, I feel like my brows show up. And so I have like a copious amounts of — like I've given myself a very strong brow, if can — yeah, if you can appreciate it.
CLIP (MICKEY): They look really good. And actually one of the first things I notice is the brow.
CLIP (WILL): Oh, O.K. So I'm just going to show up to this first date and I’m just gonna fish for compliments the entire time.
CLIP (MICKEY): Yeah, I do. I do like your eyebrows.
Dan Pashman: Mickey and Will ordered from Din Tai Fung, an international chain known for a type of xiao long bao from a region of Eastern China.
CLIP (MICKEY): What did you order?
CLIP (WILL): I got some veggie noodles and also I was like, I don't know what Sporkful’s budget is, but I'd love some boba tea.
CLIP (MICKEY): Nice.
CLIP (WILL): Yeah, what about you?
CLIP (MICKEY): I got the over the moon bundle, the savory four-pack.
CLIP (WILL): Hmm.
CLIP (MICKEY): But I mostly was interested in the crafting kit because I'm like, what is this crafting kit?
CLIP (WILL): That's dope. So what is it? What do you craft?
CLIP (MICKEY): I don't know.
CLIP (WILL): O.K. You got ... you got an activity for you to do.
CLIP (MICKEY): Yes. I'm definitely a big kid where it's like if there is an activity with the meal, I love that.
CLIP (WILL): What is a food like compatibility deal breaker?
CLIP (MICKEY): Smacking. When people smack, you know, like [SMACKING], like that?
CLIP (WILL): Yeah, yeah.
CLIP (MICKEY): And that's why I'm like paranoid to eat right now because I'm like, I don't want you hearing this noise.
CLIP (WILL): That is a thing you share with my mom. It's like a great pro tip that you should compare your date to your mom on a first date, right?
CLIP (MICKEY): Especially, as like a gay man.
CLIP (WILL): Right. Right, exactly. Yeah. I say it only because I feel like ...
Dan Pashman: Are you intentionally comparing Mickey to your mom there? Is there sort of forethought in that?
Will: I think it really was just such a — I'm not strategizing with this. It's like, this is literally my mom and so I have to tell you this. I think that after I say it, I'm like, oh, yeah, it's a little bit strange to compare your date to your mom, but I have a great relationship with my mom, so nothing but a compliment.
CLIP (MICKEY): Oh, O.K. I do have a prepared question for you.
CLIP (WILL): Yes.
CLIP (MICKEY): What do you do since you don't like mashed potatoes, what do you do for Thanksgiving?
CLIP (WILL): Before I answer, I just feel like I have to like get a read, like how do you feel about mashed potatoes?
CLIP (MICKEY): I feel like your answer should come first.
CLIP (WILL): O.K. Well, this feels like a trap first of all. Yeah. I mean, I would say it's very simple. The plan that I have, and I've gotten my family on board, there might still be a small thing of mashed potatoes there. But the thing I'm gonna make is crispy smashed potatoes, where you, like, boil them a little bit and then you smash them and then you kind of like bake them a little bit more. They get like really crispy and, yet, they're still like pretty fluffy on the inside.
CLIP (MICKEY): That's amazing. That's amazing.
CLIP (WILL): You have to tell me how you feel about mashed potatoes now.
CLIP (MICKEY): I love mashed potatoes. I love the texture.
CLIP (WILL): Mm-hmm.
CLIP (MICKEY): I'm kind of insulted you called it, baby food.
CLIP (WILL): Hmm. Hmm. This is — now, I need to make it clear, Mickey, this is not normative statement ...
Dan Pashman: So like let's say hypothetically, the two, you ended up together for an extended period, you got to do like holidays together, Thanksgiving together, would you give up mashed potatoes for love, Mickey?
Mickey: I feel like mashed potatoes has its place, and I feel like love is about compromises. So if that means not having it for Thanksgiving, I would advocate for that to be part of Christmas or some other holiday.
Dan Pashman: Will, it seems like the two of you have different perspectives on potatoes. Is this an issue?
Will: Ugh ... maybe. It might be. Differences of opinion on potato texture is probably a bigger, more likely to be a deal breaker that than a lot of other food stuffs.
Dan Pashman: And let's say the two of you were together for the long haul and you started celebrating like Thanksgiving together. How would you handle this potato situation?
Will: I would always hope that whoever I'm close with sees the light, so to speak. That's always going to be, you know, the hope deep down. I think probably you do end up having a mashed potato dish and having having some kind of crispier potato dish.
Dan Pashman: As you heard, Mickey hasn’t been on a date in 2 years, since before he lost all that weight. He told us he has trouble meeting guys in Seattle. He says people there are very body-conscious, and with the pandemic, it’s become nearly impossible.
Dan Pashman: And as he tells Will ...
CLIP (MICKEY): I don't do small talk well, so that's probably why I haven't been on a date forever.
CLIP (WILL): I am very much of the same camp, like I'm going to try to get us debating something or like try to get us, like, hashing something out. Are you familiar with the whole like, are we living in a simulation kind of theory?
CLIP (MICKEY): Like is that kind of like The Truman Show, kind of concept thing?
Dan Pashman: Mickey and Will spend a lot of the date debating philosophical questions.
CLIP (WILL): Given that we are experiencing something that looks like reality, it is more likely that we are in one of those things that has already been simulated, than us being ...
Dan Pashman: They go back and forth, until ...
CLIP (MICKEY): So you said, I think you called it, a plant gay?
CLIP (WILL): Yeah.
CLIP (MICKEY): And I’m sad that you didn’t say plant daddy because I wanted to plant daddy to be on this podcast.
CLIP (WILL): Plant Daddy. O.K., for the next several minutes, I'm just gonna say plant daddy on repeat. So they'll have to grab some of that, right? Plant daddy. Plant daddy.
CLIP (MICKEY): Um, you grow cabbage. Is that what you said? Cabbage?
CLIP (WILL): I grow a lot a lot of lettuce.
CLIP (MICKEY): Lettuce.
CLIP (WILL): Some arugula, a lot of cilantro. Um, some mushrooms, actually.
CLIP (MICKEY): Wow. That's like next level, though, because people when they say plant daddy, it's like plants, not agriculture.
CLIP (WILL): The plants down below, they have like this automated pump that comes on and kind of sprays water over the roots that are kept in a separate chamber. And so that's like I'm good at taking care of those. But then the mushrooms are loose in this bin...
Mickey: It's very attractive that he can grow. I can't grow anything. I kill succulents. The fact that he can take care of so many things is very attractive and that he can grow his own food is attractive, too.
Dan Pashman: So, can Will’s strong brows and impressive plants win Mickey over? Or is the mashed potato divide more than they can bridge? Before we find out, let’s return to our first couple. Brian and Sloan spent about an hour talking, let’s see how their date ended.
CLIP (SLOAN): Brian, this has been really fun. No matter what happens, we may never meet again, It’s just fun to talk to someone new. You know?
CLIP (BRIAN): Yeah. You make it sound like there’s a timestamp on this.
CLIP (SLOAN): I feel like eventually I’m gonna need to hang up because my computer’s gonna die.
CLIP (BRIAN): Cause you can’t plug it in?
CLIP (SLOAN): Oh, I need to go get the charger and stuff.
CLIP (BRIAN): I can wait. But now, get your charger if you need to. I can wait.
CLIP (SLOAN): No, we’ll hang out for a little bit …
Brian: I think at that moment I started to realize that that was the soft exit. But it would take as the date went on, several more times for me to get the message.
Dan Pashman: It seems like you’re sending some pretty clear signals that you’re ready to wrap things up and I’m not sure if he’s hearing them.
Sloan: Uh, yes. I was ready to wrap it up. I had finished my sushi and um …
Dan Pashman: He had asked for your number but you were hesitant to give it?
Sloan: Yeah, I gave it to him. I’m not good at saying, no, Dan. I’m just not.
Dan Pashman: Would you want to see him again for a date?
Sloan: No. I’m gonna be totally up front. I fairly recently got out of a relationship and I thought that I was ready to get back in the dating scene. I had a lot of fun, but by the end of it I kind of just recognized that like we weren’t really vibing as like romantically.
Dan Pashman: Brian, has there been any communication between you and Sloan since the date?
Brian: Yeah. I texted her two days later formally asking her like, I’d love to take you out if you’re down for it. She said, no, on account of having just left a relationship recently. And then reiterated again that I’m a very cool guy.
Dan Pashman: How did that feel?
Brian: The cool guy’s expected. She’s not the one that said that. And I already believed that since 1992. The just out of a relationship thing is understandable. I mean, I've had that issue in the past before ... yeah.
Dan Pashman: Well, I guess we’re 0 for 1. But I’m holding out some hope for Will and Mickey. Their date went for two hours. Let’s join back up with them as they say their goodbyes.
CLIP (WILL): Well, hey, I kind of have to go to the bathroom and it has been a hot minute, but this has been really fun.
CLIP (MICKEY): Yeah.
CLIP (WILL): Are you on Insta?
CLIP (MICKEY): I am.
CLIP (WILL): Sweet. You wanna drop your handle?
CLIP (MICKEY): I will, can I preface that — it's even my tag line. It's like 10 percent thirst posts, 20 percent comedy, and like 70 percent sad poetry.
CLIP (WILL): O.K.
CLIP (MICKEY): So I'm giving you that.
CLIP (WILL): I will certainly not hold it against you. But yeah, this was ... this was super weird, but also it's super fun.
CLIP (MICKEY): It was nice meeting you.
CLIP (WILL): It was nice meeting you as well. Yeah.
CLIP (MICKEY): This was fun.
CLIP (WILL): Thanks for being my date. Peace out, friend.
CLIP (MICKEY): See ya, bye.
CLIP (WILL): Bye.
Dan Pashman: So at the end of the date, Will signs off by saying, "Peace out, friend." Did you hear that? What do you make of that?
Mickey: It kind of affirms what I was I was feeling, as well. I think we can have have great conversations. I don't know ... I don't know where we would be as as romantic partners. Also, I think just the fact that he asked for my Instagram handle just shows that there is a clear distinction between how old we are. Maybe if the zombie apocalypse happens and I need someone to grow food, that's another conversation.
Dan Pashman: Oh man! I really thought this date was going well! But Mickey tells me it was missing that spark.
Mickey: I think Will is very charming. He's very intellectual. I'm not sure if the chemistry to be a romantic partner is there.
Will: It did feel after the experience fairly deeply connected. It felt like, I don't know, it felt like we had become friends. It was really fun to meet a new person. He's super pleasant. Nothing was super awkward.
Dan Pashman: I know you said that the two of you started following each other on Instagram. Have you messaged each other? Has there been any communication?
Will: We've shared a couple of responses to one another's stories. I think like an emoji here or there.
Dan Pashman: Do you want to see him again?
Will: That's a good question. I think ... I think probably not. It does just feel like we're in somewhat different parts of life.
Dan Pashman: Oh well, 0 for 2. I blame Zoom, at least partly. I mean I haven’t been on a Zoom date but I just have to imagine the whole thing feels weird. It’s harder to make a connection. Maybe we’ll do this again after the pandemic, when we can pair people up to date in person. I’m gonna officiate a wedding come hell or high water! Also, I want you to find love. It’s both really.
Dan Pashman: So if you’d like to be paired up for a Sporkful Dating Game episode in the future, go to Sporkful.com/love. Fill out our survey, and you could find yourself going out to dinner compliments of The Sporkful. Again, Sporkful.com/love.
Dan Pashman: All right, we have reached that moment. Time for my New Year's food resolution. First, I would grade myself on last year's resolution. Last year, I resolved to eat more on doenjang, the fermented bean paste that is in mapo tofu and many other dishes. I'm going to give myself a B+. I never got past mapo tofu, but I did make Andrea Wynne's recipe for mapo tofu spaghetti. I made that sauce. In fact, that's my favorite way to have cascatelli. My pasta shape is with that sauce. And as someone who didn't grow up cooking traditional Asian foods at home, cooking this style of sauce with some of these ingredients was out of my comfort zone, and I'll admit that I was a little bit intimidated by it. But Andrea writes great recipes, and after I did it a couple of times, it was so easy. And I was glad and now mapo tofu is the kind of thing that I can whip up on a Tuesday night in 20 minutes, and I'm glad to add that to my repertoire. But I needed — to get in the the A-level, I would have had to have more doenjang in more different dishes. So look — next year.
Dan Pashman: But my new New Year's resolution — now this one, I put a lot of thought into this one. And as I record this, I remain torn. For a while, I was sure that it was going to be miso. Senior producer Emma Morgenstern shared her recipe in our newsletter — that's why you should subscribe to our newsletter — of like a grilled eggplant that she makes with this like sesame miso glaze and I decided to try to make it. I had never bought or cooked with Miso before, and I, you know, sampled a little bit out of the bag when I bought. I was like, oh my God, I never had uncut miso. It's incredible. I had a butterscotch miso sauce on a piece of apple pie that I ate a restaurant once that blew my mind, that still haunts me. So I thought, I need to do more stuff with Miso. But then for of the show Soh-la El-Waylly, she shared something on Instagram that her and her husband were having like — I think, she described like his and hers yogurt dishes for lunch. And they were savory yogurt with a lot of stuff mixed in, za'atar and nuts. I don't remember exactly what it was. Each one was just something different, and they're both chefs, so they're always doing interesting stuff. Anyway, that just made me — you know, like Janie had some plain yogurt in the fridge, not sweetened, and I had snacked on it. And just like the — I mean, just all the notes, the sourness was so delicious to me. And I was like, yeah, I should be eating more yogurt like with cool stuff, all different things mixed in. So what should it be? Miso or yogurt? Miso or yogurt? I think I'm going to decide based on what I happened to be more in the mood for right this minute.
Dan Pashman: Here we go. My New Year's resolution for 2022 is: [DRUMROLL] I resolved to eat more yogurt. I'm just in the mood for yogurt right now. But I want ... I want like savory yogurt dishes and hearty yogurt dishes that I like — I want ... I want to have yogurt for lunch with a bunch of flavors and textures mixed in. So I would love to hear your suggestions because this is like a whole new world to me. So if you have stuff you love to throwing yogurt to make it a a hearty, flavorful meal, I want to know about it. Drop me a line at hello@Sporkful.com and I know that a lot of people eat a lot of yogurt in a lot of different ways, and I'm just like, I want to be part of that party. That's it. Yogurt.
Dan Pashman: Well, thank you again, so much for listening to our show and supporting what we do here in all year. Thank you for your enthusiasm for the pasta shape. Thank you to everyone who works on the Sporkful and makes it so successful. I appreciate all of you and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year. We'll be back with a brand new show on January 3rd. The meantime, subscribe to our newsletter at Sporkful.com/newsletter.