I HAVE had a week filled with birthdays, pregnancies and random celebrations.

When I was younger, I would mark these happy occasions by getting drunk and disgracing myself.

However, as I have got older, I have found the night now seems to be built around food, with a meal as the cornerstone of the evening.

This has made me reflect on the difference between the way women and men treat the issue of eating out.

At the pub or restaurant, I will carefully scrutinise the menu for important things like what dish looks bigger or if any of my dining companions are ordering something that could turn out to be better than mine.

Nothing ruins a meal faster than seeing someone flaunt a superior choice in front of me.

On numerous occasions, I have spent the evening sulkily pushing a merely adequate lasagne around my plate while secretly coveting a friend’s kick-ass burger.

You will hear men at the eatery negotiating the possibility of getting rice and chips with their curry and pushing for starters...then a little feminine voice will pipe up and ask for a jacket potato or a salad.

What kind of sick degenerate would waste a trip to the pub with a jacket potato?

This worrying pattern is replicated throughout a range of dining experiences.

The other day, I went for a pizza with a lady friend and when it become clear she wasn’t going to sleep with me I stopped paying attention and started looking around the restaurant for something to occupy my mind.

A couple went to the salad bar and I was appalled to see the woman select a few leaves of lettuce and half a tomato and head back to her seat.

I have lettuce and tomatoes at home – the whole point of the salad bowl is to bask in the glory of delights that people don’t normally have.

However, her companion was not falling for this trap, and was evidently mindful of the fact he was only allowed one visit, with an undersized plate.

His eyes narrowed; clearly his brain was calculating the maximum salad he could hope to land.

With a military air he circled the table.

He started building with a dollop of load-bearing potato salad, he strolled past the lettuce, tomato and the treacherous cucumber without a second glance and added a second storey of cold pasta.

Finally, he topped it off with rice, bacon bits and a bread roll before wedging tasty looking morsels in the side to support the bulk.

His hand darted out for a rogue beetroot but then thought better of it – something that has the ability to stain clothes and rolls should never be trusted.

When he returned to his seat his friend looked ashamed, no doubt sensing she had squandered her opportunity.

“It’s eat all you can,” he pointed out.

“No,” she replied, tersely. “It’s eat all you want.”