Have you ever committed infoodelity?

AMANDA HOOTON
Last updated 12:30 03/03/2014
Infoodelity
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HARD TO STOMACH: Fine dining without one's partner is practically a betrayal.

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Forget drinking: it is far worse to eat alone.

At the moment, second dinner (the meal cooked after first dinner is painstakingly prepared for, and occasionally consumed by, my small daughter) is the highlight of my day.

It is a culinary cure for all ills, a panacea for weekday woes, a meal to knit up the ravelled sleeve of care.

Even though we have no dining table; even though our days of sparkling dinnertime conversation - let alone delicate soufflés, handmade pasta or lapin sauté à la Toucassaine - seem largely lost (see small daughter, above); even though, in other words, the whole beau repas ideal is a dream that does not bear the waking, I still look forward to dinner.

Which is why I hate it when my boyfriend does it without me.

He has several friends in "the food world", and occasionally he leaves me, goes out and eats with them.

He's kind enough not to speak about these indiscretions (though sometimes, to torment myself, I ask), and he's at pains to clean the Cantabrian artisan anchovy smears from his collar and wipe the Raveneau Chablis from his lips.

Nevertheless, I know where he's been, I know what he's been up to, and I know what it is. A betrayal.

But now I know something else: I am not alone.

Culinary cuckolding is sweeping the globe, or at least that part of it that knows (and cares) about terms such as sous vide and sabayon.

According to American writer Adam Sachs, "infoodelity" (n., the act of betrayal of dining out without your significant other) is an increasing threat to "monogourmets" (n., he or she who is committed to exploring culinary pleasures only in the company of a long-term partner) everywhere.

Vicki Wild and her partner, chef Martin Benn, are co-owners of acclaimed Sydney restaurant Sepia. The pair live, work and almost always eat together.

"There's no one I'd rather eat with," says Wild. "Sad, isn't it? But when we're not together, it's not the same."

What Wild understands is that eating, in and of itself, is an intimate act: sensory, tactile, endorphin-inducing.

For me, even if it's just spag bol in front of the telly (again), it's a bond, an affirmation, a kind of tacit vow. I am here with you. We are in this together. Your suffering that we have run out of parmigiano-reggiano and have been reduced to this weird tasty cheddar is my suffering.

But the betrayal is worse, far worse, when it doesn't just involve a dodgy barbie at a mate's place, but an episode of epicurean ecstasy at some ambrosia-serving food Olympus - especially if it's an Olympus that has only just opened and we haven't been there yet.

"I went to the new [Sydney restaurant] Bentley with a friend recently," confesses Wild. "Beforehand Martin was saying "There's no way you're going without me! You'll have something I want to eat and come back and talk about it!" And of course I had all these fantastic things and came back and talked about them. He was so pissed off! So then we had to go together."

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Food columnist Sally Webb knows exactly how Benn feels.

She was a food and wine widow for years while husband Simon Thomsen was one of Australia's best-known restaurant critics.

She exerted her marital rights where possible - "I'd say, 'If you dare to go to Porteño on your own, I'll kill you, and if you go with someone else, I'll double kill you' " - but with Thomsen out five nights a week, even she couldn't demand complete faithfulness.

"What I can say, however, is that, eventually, it does end." Thomsen is now an editor at a business website.

This is some comfort, I admit. In the meantime, however, my own life partner is still out there, sating hitherto unknown and exotic appetites without me. Where is the trust, the loyalty, the moon in your eye like a big pizza pie? Can this possibly be amore?

Well, two can play that game.

The other night I was home alone when the text came through. "Doing a gelato run," wrote my neighbour. "What flavours would u like?"

Gelato! From the great new gelato shop up the street, where neither my boyfriend nor I had been yet!

At first, I resisted. "Next time," I replied. Back came the response, "No come up we got takeaway have truckloads!!!!!!" And just like that, I was lost. Up the street and onto the couch with my neighbour and his wife. Burnt caramel, chocolate, macadamia. Illicit, forbidden heaven.

The next day I confessed everything. "I wasn't going to! I don't know what came over me! But they had chocolate, and, well ..." My boyfriend pretended not to mind, but I know better.

In that single moment, he and I both know that I forgot our love, commitment and trust, our shared life together. I desserted him.

- Good Food

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