A date is like a job interview with extra booze and a bill at the end. There’s so much to get right, and so much think about. Does he like you? Do you like him? Should you have the lobster, or will he ask you to go halves?
If you really want to know what he’s like, stop thinking and start watching what he’s doing with that pasta. Here are 18 ways to spot his personality on a plate.

1. A man who eats with his mouth full is enthusiastic and a bit young for his age. Don’t trust him with a pair of scissors or your bathroom cabinet, but feel free to use his body. He’s unlikely to mind.

2. Never trust a man who persuades you to order chocolate cheesecake for dessert, and then says to the waiter: “just a coffee for me, please.” He is controlling, and he likes to watch.

3. Don’t go home with a man who guzzles the best bits of his dinner first. You may not notice him doing this until he says: “I’ll have your prawns if you don’t want them,” because he doesn’t understand that you’re savouring them. He is a man in a hurry, and he prefers to skip time-wasting seduction techniques such as kissing and saying “hello”. He wants what he wants, and he wants it now. Unlikely to buy you flowers.

4. A man who saves the tastiest forkful for last is a man who lives for time-wasting seduction techniques. He knows all about deferred gratification, and he’ll give you a head-to-toe massage before even taking your shoes off (years of practice). He’s late for everything. His girlfriends don’t care.

5. If you’re on a date with a man who prods at his food with his fork, there’s a small chance that he’s an emotional wreck, fresh from a break-up and prodding repeatedly to kill the pain. But he’s probably just nervous.
(Science fact: chimps prod their food when they get nervous. Men are basically chimps with iPods. If your date starts picking his head and screaming, give him a banana.)
6. Seducers share their chips.

7. Clever seducers share their whiskey tarte tatin at the end of the most expensive meal you’ve ever tasted, and then refuse to let you share the bill.

(Science fact: chimps who share food with females get more sex. Randy chimps aren’t daft – they know that peanuts buy sex. Maybe this is why peanuts are sold in pubs.)
8. If your date makes a comment about a parsnip that looks like a willy, it’s probably because he’s got a willy that looks like a parsnip. (See also: carrot, asparagus. Corn-on-the-cob may be worth researching further.)

9. If you take a man home to meet your mum and he makes the parsnip observation at the dinner table, it’s OK – you’re having a nightmare. Men like this do exist, but they’re so socially inept that they never get second dates, let alone invitations to meet girls’ mums.

10. A man who doesn’t eat his sandwich crusts is a man in need of a strong woman. He’s been scared of crusts ever since they made his milk teeth wobble, and the phobia has become embarrassing. Dominate him until he eats a ciabatta loaf. He’ll thank you for it.

11. If a man invites you over “for dinner,” and dinner turns out to be a Chinese takeaway, he may be lazy – or he may be a relaxed, spontaneous, low-maintenance type. Reserve judgement until you’ve seen him do the washing up.
12. A man who falls asleep after dinner is a man to be avoided. He’ll invite you over, cook a lovely meal – and start snoring before you’ve finished your potatoes. Real men never fall asleep first, because they’re too busy stroking your hair.

13. A man who orders his takeaway in numbers rather than words doesn’t enjoy long conversations. He thinks that women talk too much, including the woman who said “thank you for your order” instead of just putting the phone down.
14. A man who eats all the free prawn crackers even though he doesn’t like them is a man who doesn’t fear commitment. On the downside, he’s a bit of a martyr.

15. If a man spends hours cooking dinner for you but eats hardly anything himself, he’s a diva looking for reassurance. Don’t leave anything on the plate, or he’ll feel so rejected that he’ll attack his kitchen appliances.
16. A man who mentions calories on a date is either: a) a self-loather who needs constant reassurance that he isn’t fat; or b) an inexperienced dater who thinks that chicks dig calories.

17. A man who chucks the bit of gherkin from his burger is a man who pays too much attention to detail. He will notice the solitary leg-hair that you missed.
18. A man who wolfs down his food is a low-maintenance type with good boyfriend potential. Lacks certain social graces, such as chewing, but also lacks hang-ups and is very cheap to feed: cabbage and caviar taste the same when nothing touches the sides.