Jerel Says, ‘Eat the Uni’; Bumble

Sushi Banner

First or second date, I would always take a woman to a really good sushi bar and I would order uni. If she didn’t eat the uni, that relationship was pretty much over. If she’s immune to the charms of sea urchin row or unwilling to try it, there’s no hope.

-Anthony Bourdain on dating

We all have our dating quirks. Relational eccentricities that, beyond any real rhyme or reason, we still look for, or look to, in a person. Even though I’ve definitely changed, Relationship Testlearned a lot, and hopefully shifted some of my priorities and desires when it comes to relationships and the kind of person I want to be with and the reasons I would want to be with them for, I still have these dating ‘tests’ from before that I have used and will still probably always use when I’m dating someone new. Some of it makes sense to me, some of them are about matters of compatibility or the importance of sharing similar interests. Others are just there to help me feel better, more confident about a potential relationship. Now take these for what you will. Obviously I sometimes tend to speak in hyperbole. Would I really consider scrapping an entire potential relationship because a girl might ‘fail’ one or two of these tests? Of course not.

I mean…probably not.

But definitely, maybe.

Jerel’s New Relationship Dating Tests


This is of course, inspired by my culinary and lifestyle role model, Anthony Bourdain. He Sushi Jumphas stated in numerous interviews and various episodes on No Reservations and Parts Unknown how important and integral sushi is to him not only in terms of food but in matters of the heart as well. I have always loved sushi, but I’ll admit I was a young naive ignorant fool compared to the master, Bourdain. I wasn’t even good enough to get a white belt in his dojo. But over the years and through extensive study and application *coughs*allyoucaneatsushibuffets*coughs* I too learned the secret ways. I learned that sushi is a finger food first and foremost. Or that sushi should be dipped fish side down into the soy sauce. And don’t you EVER, EVER, EVER let me catch you mixing the wasabi into your soy sauce. And that really great sushi is about the rice, not the fish. It’s 90% in the quality and attention and care to the type of rice and the preparation and seasoning of it.

So what’s the test? It’s part knowledge and part sense of adventure. I usually like to take a girl to a sushi restaurant on the third date. It’s a little more into the relationship than Bourdain, but then I don’t have Bourdain money, so I figure there could be other red flags worth noting before really investing in the sushi test. So by the third date, I’m Sushi Lovemaybe kind of already hoping it’s gonna work out alright. First off, it’s major negative points if I’m with someone who can look me straight in the eye and say ‘oh my god I love sushi’ and then order nothing but California rolls or shrimp tempura rolls or the absolute worst, deep fried sushi. First of all, there’s no way in hell if I want authentic genuine high quality sushi that I would take someone to a place that even has these on the menu. So if she’s searching for it when we order, I’m searching for the exit. While I would be absolutely thrilled and enamored if I found out the person I was with was just as into sushi and knew all the best pieces and ate them with confidence and style and all the right etiquette, I would be just as happy to see them at least interested and adventurous enough to try. Yes, uni would be on the menu. As well as squid, octopus, and raw scallop. Don’t lie about how much you know about sushi and at the very least be interested and open enough to try. Though I would also note, of all my past relationships, the worst have this in common: the girls did not like sushi. So yeah, it might be important that someone I want to spend a good portion of my life with should probably like my absolute favorite food.

Pass: Basic interest/knowledge in sushi or willingness to try/learn

Fail: Lying about their interest in sushi or not having any to begin with

Extra Credit: Orders the uni first and eats it all with her fingers


I was doing this before (500) Days of Summer! I never thought the deep dark secrets of my dating world would be plastered all over the big screen with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. The Ikea Test comes after the sushi test. This girl is now more than Ikea Fail.gifjust someone I’ve seen a couple times and want to date. This is like, girlfriend territory waters we’re not dipping our big toe in. Like the way they test their furniture, I’m going to use Ikea to stress test this relationship. It’s gonna have to last longer than 1000 open and closes. We start at the Ikea Cafe, which to me is not celebrated nearly enough for the quality of the food and the price. Great Swedish meatballs with that rich creamy gravy and mashed potatoes, sweet and tart lingonberry jam, smoked salmon with mustard and dill, and some of the best fries. Crispy crunchy crusty surfaces with soft fluffy insides. But be honest. The moment I mentioned ‘we’re going to be eating at Ikea’, how did you really feel. Because that’s what I’m gonna want to find out about the girl I’m dating. Look, anyone can take anyone to a five-star top quality first class restaurant and have a great time and enjoy the food and the company. Now I’m not saying I’m taking someone to some unmarked shady hellhole of a restaurant. It’s a bright and well lit and clean cafe with practical, affordable, yet well made Swedish furniture. And the food is good. It really is. We can even get some soft serve ice cream on our way out. They have strawberry topping too if you’d like. The point is, life isn’t always going to be top of the tops. Anyone can enjoy that. I want someone who can see beyond that, to simpler and humbler things, and not only find joy in that, but add to it too.

Then we wander and walk off our meal on the Ikea showroom floor. And we get into conversations that honestly, I don’t know why so many people in relationships avoid. They think that those uncomfortable topics like, what kind of place do you want to live Ikea Datein, what kind of family would you want, where would you want to live, etc are taboo or that they’ll scare a partner. But let me tell you, even on first dates, it’s sometimes nice to break the barrier and get to those kinds of questions because you bond sooner and because really, who the hell wants to talk about the weather, or what they think of the city. No one ended up with their lifelong partner because they both liked the weather. In fact, a dating study found that when they forced couples on first dates to ask more ‘controversial’ topics (number of sexual partners, any history of STDs, if they’ve ever been broken hearted or broken someone’s heart) by the end of the date both the questioner and the replier felt closer and more satisfied with the other person. So here is this opportunity, in a very non-threatening, non-committal, and informal manner, to jokingly but also honestly imagine what a future would look like, and ask those questions responsible people should ask of each other.

Pass: She enjoys the Ikea date in good humor, and is comfortable with the ensuring showroom communication.

Fail: Her upturned nose poo-poos the Ikea date.

Extra Credit: Not only is she so familiar with the dishes she can order them in Swedish, but on the showroom floor she names the furniture she wants us to get.


Oh this is way way waaay more than ‘Netflix and chill’. No self-respecting adult should Better Off Deadever utter that phrase unironically. Now it’s obvious I’m a huge cinephile. But this isn’t about finding another film nerd, or quizzing some poor girl on movie trivia. Even I wouldn’t enjoy that. As I’ve mentioned in the past, movies are portals for our emotions, and great movies awaken the Better Off Deaddeepest and most filling and profound expressions. So to save us years of having to dig to find moments of equal emotional depth, I figure I could just have us watch certain movies and see how we (she) will react. I’d like to see how compatible our senses of humor are. Would we be able to find humor in the same things. (Good god I don’t have much, if she doesn’t find me funny I’ve got even less.) Do we share the same outlook and opinion on things like love and relationships. Do we feel emotions on similar levels, is there that sense of empathy that could help us understand each other better. We would actually have to focus and you know, watch these movies, rather than just have it playing in the background and making out.

I love a thousand movies. And in the course of  my life I’ll probably love a thousand more. But two essential must watch films for me are Better Off Dead and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Both, interestingly enough, have breakups as the catalysts for the Eternal Sunshineplot. Obviously one is more humorous and the other more dramatic, but both are about how we deal with separation and how we move on in search of love and forever. They’re also both filled with absolutely stunning visuals. Eternal Sunshine has incredibly beautiful natural landscapes and scene-scapes, from the dramatic dismantling of the beach house scene to the wide beautiful sweeping shots of the beaches of Montauk and the frozen waters of the lake. The dream world scenes and the memory wipe scenes are beautiful and done so simply with minimal effects but lasting impression. Better Off Dead is visually overflowing with subplots, visual gags, and extra treats to unlock with further viewings. I remember the scene in Lane Meyer’s math class when his teacher asks everyone to take out their homework and there are a series of brief close up shots of various students bumbling about in their desks and bags. You’ve got one boy who is printing an entire thesis on an old dot-matrix printer, another girl has a metal accordion file that expands to like twenty sections of work. And you’ve got Lane (played by John Cusack) taking out a single folded piece of paper that’s stuck together with old gum and all it says is ‘do homework’. It’s visual gag overload, and there’s even a slightly creepy completely out of Eternal Sunshineleft field claymation scene with a Frankenstein-esque burger that freakishly comes to life and starts singing Van Halen. To me, both are excellent examples of their genre. Eternal Sunshine never fails to bring up these feelings of heartbreak and sadness but also nostalgia and optimism. And it evokes conversation about how we deal with loss, and what we view as the value of a relationship, regardless of it succeeds or not. Better Off Dead is so much more than just silly humor. It’s coming of age, it’s innocence, and it’s the joy and excitement of discovering new opportunities. It is also full of timeless cultural references, and I’ll always want my ‘two dollars!’

Pass: She enjoys the movies in much the same way, and I can tell we share the same sense of humor and outlook on relationships.

Fail: She falls asleep or doesn’t laugh/feel anything.

Extra Credit: She brings her own blu-ray copies.

Relationship Test 2So yeah, these are three of the relationship tests. Don’t know when my next chance to do them will be, but there they are waiting for the next soul. How did you do? Would you have passed some of these, or even gotten the extra credit? And do you have your own innocent little ‘tests’ when you date someone? I’d love to know!

Jerel says, ‘eat the uni’.

11 thoughts on “Jerel Says, ‘Eat the Uni’; Bumble

  1. Eternal Sunshine is the first “I love this I know you’ll love it too, or we aren’t meant to be” movie that I insist we watch when I am dating someone I really like. Love all these tests! Although, I’m a little behind on the Ikea test, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes I have to remember to watch the movie myself, because I’m with someone and we’re watching Eternal Sunshine or Better Off Dead for the first time I end up just watching them the entire time, trying to gauge their reactions. Hahah. But I’m glad to see you agree with the movie choice!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am still processing how deeply, deeply wrong your entire take on When Harry Met Sally is, so I’ll have to get back to you about that (except to say, you goddamn muppet, the point didn’t even come close to the top of your head on the way past)…!

    I am not a tester. Chica right here don’t play, as Pitbull says in some song that seems to always be on the radio. Having said that, when Scrubs first told me he was a vegetarian, I had to school my face into an expressionless mask while on the inside I did a few deep breathing exercises and massaged my temples as if in great agony. “WHY?” I thought to myself. “A VEGETARIAN! WHY GOD?”

    If I had ever given any thought as to what I might consider a food-related dealbreaker, that probably would have been it.

    Somehow we made it through our first few dinner dates, and then trips to Spain during which my grandad insisted on stocking the freezer with ham and cheese pizzas for him because he thought a vegetarian was just someone who didn’t eat steak. If we ever eat sushi, he has to eat avocado or cucumber or omelette rolls. He can’t eat ramen because of the broth. I will never be able to share my true love of shellfish with him, and he will never understand how good seafood paella/ramen/grilled seabass/proper fish & chips/jamon serrano/chorizo/ too-many-other-things-to-mention tastes. He would be perfectly happy to eat potatoes and boiled broccoli and a Quorn fake chicken fillet every day for the rest of forever. Does that make me sad? Yes. Do I feel sorry for his tastebuds? Definitely.

    It’s fine though. I still enjoy the foods that I enjoy. I’ve grown used to checking for vegetarian options. He doesn’t impose his views on me in any way and he always eats whatever it is I make for dinner, no matter how adventurous.

    God this comment is turning into a blog post of its own. All I meant to say is that these tests… they’re a cute idea, but I don’t think they’re practical. I don’t think dealbreakers like that are ever a good idea. I mean obviously there are things that SHOULD be dealbreakers like… she’s a cheater. Or she’s addicted to meth. Or she killed her parents for the insurance money. But not stuff like discomfort with intimate IKEA conversations or sushi aversion.

    The movie thing though…. you definitely need some common ground there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would absolutely love to see a blog post pro-When Harry Met Sally because I am so so so ready for an anti-When Harry Met Sally. I think it’s a good movie as rom coms go, good comedy, good set up, clever enough to actually almost get away with surprising us in the end, but ultimately, it ended like all the others. But it asked a question in the beginning, and it set out to answer it, and ultimately, I just didn’t like its answer. I thought it arrived at the wrong conclusion. AND I know that Ephron and Reiner didn’t even want that ending, but were just too weak to stand up to the studios. Anyways, point is, since no one around here feels one way or the other about the movie at all, I’d really love to read and react.
      I mean, you’re a tester. We’re all testers. We might not have explicit labeled and titled tests like I do, but we are all testers. You don’t just feel attracted to someone and then immediately pursue the relationship. You put out feelers, make sure there aren’t any red flags, that they aren’t a homicidal maniac. Like whatever that may manifest itself as. ‘How do they treat wait staff’ ‘what’s their relationship with family’ there are much more serious and substantial tests. These are the more superficial humorous tests.
      I think I could be friends with a vegetarian. Maybe. Reasoning would also factor in. Like for health reasons or diet restrictions, I get that. If it’s ‘for the animals’…I’d be a bit more hesitant. Something strikes me that they are sensitive folk, and I’m very brash and INsensitive. But I could hang with vegetarians. Never vegans though. That’s just a line in the sand. Don’t care how it makes me look. No vegans, ever. I wouldn’t impose my views on anyone either. That’s why I wouldn’t date a vegetarian. They live their life, I live mine, I see no reason for too much intersect. Plus you gotta remember, food is a big big big part of my life. Aside from enjoying it, there’s every possibility that my final career is restaurateur. So how my partner views and enjoys food is kinda gonna be a big part of my life.
      These tests are cute and silly and meant to be funny, but they do hold weight for me. Maybe not as much as cheating or drug addiction, but they definitely factor into the scale eventually. If you can’t enjoy certain food, alright we can talk about that. If you can’t enjoy food at all, I’m out forever. If you’re too good for Ikea, or can’t handle the serious questions, then maybe we should stop and reanalyze. The world is a giant giant place. There are billions of possible potential partners out there. I don’t mind a few extra restrictions just to help speed the process along of everyone finding who they should be with. If it’s JUST the sushi thing, or JUST one thing or whatever. I’m not gonna go crazy and duck out immediately. But if it’s sushi AND some other stuff…then the sushi would be the just enough extra to duck out. All I’m saying. Like Bourdain says, ‘it’s like finding six Billy Joel records in her apartment. A sign of the apocalypse.’


      • Hahaha so what you’re saying is, the sushi is the sushi that would break the camel’s back. Got it.

        Yeah… I guess when I hear about tests (or checklists, which is usually the case with girl friends), I get wicked uncomfortable because I feel like I would fail a lot of them for various reasons, and that’s never a nice feeling.

        And also, I’ve never really dated as such, so I guess I’ve never been in a position to test. I’ve only ever as you put it “felt attracted to someone and then immediately pursued a relationship.”

        That probably makes me a weirdo. Ho hum…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well then there are like those wicked manipulative and super creepy ‘tests’ that are like, I’m gonna sick one of my hot friends on you on purpose to see if you cheat or, I’m gonna quietly stew over something small to see if you notice and get more and more angry the longer it takes you to notice because you’re clearly not in tune with my emotions. Yo those are messed up. And ain’t nobody got time for that. So I’m completely anti any of those, don’t get me wrong.
          That doesn’t make you weird, that makes you fortunate. I envy you. Hahah.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. These are some really cool tests. It kinda reminded me of back in the day, when someone would want to ask me out on a date and I’d bombard them with questions before even agreeing to just an afternoon out of eating streetfood by the sea. I can see the point to all of these and at one point, it’s nice to have it I think. I don’t know. I haven’t ever really dated a potential boyfriend (or I just don’t know what a date should be like) but this post definitely had me thinking about what I want it to be and how I want it to go down. Interesting post, J. Don’t have much to say to your tests but that I agree with your reasoning. As for films though, if he asks me why my favorite film isn’t one that’s considered of the greats? I will be out of his hair in no time. If he doesn’t play chess or board games with me on moody days, IDK. I have some thinking to do. Hahah. And if he isn’t willing to watch (binge-watch, if need be) anime with me, I’m out. Often times though, I picture our first date to just be so casual and maybe stop by a bookstore because I always go to a certain section first and watch if he follows or if he goes and looks for those he’s interested to. I don’t know. But if for some people there are certain quirks they look for, I don’t like asking people that and just rather go with them for one whole day and observe them. Then at the end of the day, if he’s really good, I’d be surprised he has noticed more stuff about me than I about him. LoL.

    Liked by 1 person

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