From an Italian prince and a Spanish gigolo to a Russian billionaire and a priest at the Vatican, Bambi Smyth has certainly “dated” her fair share of interesting men.In fact, the 55-year-old from Melbourne spent three months going on 75 blind dates in 22 countries — and it was all in a mission to find “The One”.
Smyth’s jam-packed itinerary led her to dine with some “extraordinary and interesting” men, which she then tried to match with a dish unique to their culture.
“It was a cross between speed dating and a smorgasbord,”she told Daily Mail Australia.
“I was trying to get to know as many (men) as I could, but sometimes I only had one day in a country and I was meeting with two or three men.” It was hard work, but exciting too.”
Of her 75 dates, an Italian Stallion named Stefano topped Smyth’s list.
“Stefano was one of the most extraordinary men I’ve met. He’s a naval architect and he was charm on steroids,” she said.
“He was the most interesting man, generous of nature, highly intelligent and very warm. To say I fell head over heels for him is an understatement. But, like several of the men Smyth met on her travels, Stefano was married.
Smyth decided to combine her search for love with gaining an insight into the cultural differences involved in dating and she chronicled her adventures for her new book, Men On The Menu.
Before leaving Melbourne, Smyth emailed everyone she knew telling them she was writing a book about food and men and needed a “date” in various countries.
She said they should be “preferably single” and aged roughly between 25 to 55. In a matter of two weeks she had a list of blind dates across the world.
But not all were what she expected.
“There was a fellow in Hungary who was kind enough to cook dinner for me in his small apartment,” she said.
“He was chopping up chicken fillets in the kitchen . . . and he suddenly turns to me and says if I had another career I’d probably be a good serial killer because I like chopping and I’m very neat.
“’Needless to say I was gripping my chair in this seventh floor apartment in God knows where.”
She also met a gigolo in Monaco.
“Well I’m 99 percent sure he was a gigolo. I was having a drink with a friend and he gestured for us to come over. He was asking how many stars our hotel had, obviously trying to work out how much money I had.
“I didn’t fall for it, in case you’re wondering.”
In Germany, a man who took Smyth to lunch thought it would be funny to feed her cheese that had less than desirable side effects.
“(The cheese) was called The Musician . . . when I asked why and he said ‘You’ll see’,” she said.
“I farted for three full days and by the end of it I could sound out the whole Oom Pah Pah. He was just watching me (eat) with a little smile on his face!”
While her time in Italy with Stefano was the stuff dreams are made of, some dates left Smyth with a sour taste in her mouth.
“In England, I was hoping for something interesting. My cousin had set me up with her ex-boyfriend Ben. But it was horrible. I think he told me I was stupid 37 times. I had to sit there while he was tearing me to shreds. Paulo was my very first date overseas in Brazil. He was a very weird person. He obviously didn’t think I left a big enough tip so leant across and took more money out of my wallet. But then he sang to me . . . he tried to seduce me!” ” she said.
But Smyth said she had no regrets during her whirlwind trip.
“They were all interesting and worth recording. They all added some to the smorgasbord, even though some gave me indigestion,” she said.
Smyth, who after 75 dates ended up meeting a man named Greg when she returned to Australia, said she opened up during the experience and learned a few things about herself.
“I became less judgemental and became open to different possibilities. I went over lacking confidence but I ended up feeling good about myself,” she said.
“I’ve learned to give people an opportunity to show your true side . . . you definitely can’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge a man by his wallet.”