breakfast in bed with a lover

Secret Loves–the best food indulgences

Chef Annette Tomei

Eat & Tell with Annette Tomei

Is it true that everyone has a dirty little secret? Any diva worth her imported, hand-harvested, sea-salt probably has a few! The really juicy ones are certain to be secret loves… the little “bad for you” indulgences that we daydream about and treat ourselves to when we’re feeling particularly good (or bad, as the case may be).

The types of secret loves are as diverse as the passionate people who relish them… from lovers to lollipops, whatever form they take, an occasional indulgence in a secret love can make your pulse quicken, your temperature rise and leave you with a satisfied sense of being ever-so-naughty!

the indulgence of breakfast in bedAre we as guarded about sharing information about our secret loves of the edible variety as we are about revealing the identity of a secret lover? The people who were willing to divulge their intimate epicurean forays (for the sake of my research) spoke of their favorite indulgences with the same distant, lusty, sensuality that they might exhibit in reminiscing about a romantic tryst. To be certain, the objects of their gastronomic desire were as diverse as their taste in amorous conquests.

The Richer the Better

The terms used to describe the indulgences of this category would be equally at home in a steamy romance novel or a soft-porn script. Ladies, note that one of the most sensual, articulate responses in this category came from a man (a married one, at that) – Yes, they do exist!

This category is the 500-thread count satin and down covered bed of the secret lovers of tactile pleasure; this time in the form of rich, dense chocolate cake – like biting into sumptuous black velvet, the luscious weight of moist crumbs and satiny buttercream on your tongue.

Frosting deserves a separate mention here… judging by the years of lines outside Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village this secret love is officially out of Mrs. Robinson’s pantry and into the open of the vanilla and butter-scented, creamy-smooth fashionable neighborhoods across the country.

Opposites Attract

The responses that fell into this category came from some of the most fun-loving people I know… people with open minds, open hearts and a love of adventure and new experiences. Their answers were quick and definitive; characteristically, these people did not consider their treats to be secrets, just part of their personal style.

For the naughty oenophile, pairing a big, bold, relatively expensive or hard-to-find Châteauneuf du Pape with a bubbly hot, gooey, melty, New York City delivery pizza is the ultimate night-at-home decadence. An easy one to share with a not-necessarily-secret lover of the human variety also.

The darkness of a movie theater provides the perfect setting for indulging in a secret love as well as easy access to the two ingredients that fulfill another friends craving for hot, slightly salty, buttered popcorn mixed with Milk Duds – the chocolate-coated caramels melt ever-so-slightly providing the ultimate in textural and flavor contrasts. What a way to satisfy multiple cravings at once.

That Reminds Me…

This category covers both literal and figurative relationships between food and memory. The most literal is food that is physically similar to something, well, physical (consider the aphrodisiac qualities of bananas or asparagus).

The other memory connection is much more subjective, as in: a whiff of steak cooking on the grill reminds you of your last boyfriend who was a BBQ fanatic. Or, more along the lines of secret loves, indulging in the old roller rink (or drive-in movie) favorites like concession stand nachos, Hostess cakes (mmm Twinkies!), White Castle sliders, pizza rolls, jalapeño poppers, and so on… memories of couples skate, last call, heavy petting in the back seat of the family car.

The most memorable of my friends’ comments on this subject involved (as so many New York stories do) an evening home alone with the delivery menus. There is something decadent and liberating about enjoying certain normally public foods in the privacy of your own home… burritos, for example. When eating a burrito in public, the potential messy stain from an overzealous bite is enough of a concern to add a bit of decorum to the process. At home, however, we are free to immerse ourselves in burrito-as-sensual experience with the reckless abandon that a secret love deserves.

Suddenly, a good burrito becomes something warm and supple that is soft on your lips, filled with a textural treasure of firm black beans, toothsome rice, and creamy guacamole and sour cream, and don’t forget the warming heat of the aphrodisiac chiles. Alone at home, my friend feels able to truly relish these sensations without concern for the sauce dribble on her chin or the possibility of an overzealous bite ruining her outfit for the evening.


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