Dining with One

I like cooking.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I like eating good food presented well. And it’s a great pleasure to eat delicious, beautiful food that I made myself.

Moreover, I think I’m worth it. I, Bad4, deserve to eat well. So I do.

A (single) friend once told me that she lives on canned tuna and raw vegetables because “It doesn’t pay to cook for one.”

I told her that was the saddest thing I’d ever heard.

She got angry and told me she felt condescended at.

I snarked back that she shouldn’t demand respect from me when she wasn’t giving it to herself. She was a friend I admired and respected and enjoyed spending time with, and I couldn’t believe that she thought she wasn’t worth taking care of except incidentally while caring for a man.

We glared at each other for a while. She didn’t talk to me for three days. Then she came back and said it had nothing to do with any man—she was just too lazy to cook and she liked her tuna, so there.

I said I respected that, because everyone has a right to be lazy if it makes them happy, but I still thought she deserved good food, so she could come over for supper whenever she wanted. We grudgingly made up.  She came over for supper.

I see no shame in cooking for one, arranging a plate for one, and relishing it… alone. If you want to share, well, that’s what Instagram is for, right?

Which is why I was pleased to find that there’s an entire book of famous chefs reminiscing about their favorite one-person meals. And offended that the subtitle has the word “confession” in it. Can we please erase the stigma of not spending every moment with another person?

In The Muppets song “Me Party” there’s a line I love:

There are days when all this girl can see
Is a world that’s made for two

And it’s true. Our society assumes  a party of two. Everyone makes fun of teenage girls who can’t go to the bathroom alone. But how many grown adults have the guts to dine out alone?

I thought I did, and there are times when I have. But frequently I’ve resorted to reading a book to avoid figuring out what to do with my eyes. You can’t just stare at your food. That seems like bad manners. But looking around at the other patrons seems a little creepy. Sometimes, takeout just seems like a better option.

Which is why I loved this article about preferring to dine alone that an MF sent me.  Well, she sent me this article first, but there was a link, so that makes two people who proudly dine alone, and if you add me, well, three’s a crowd, and a horde is a type of crowd, so there are hordes of people who enjoy dining alone, so there.


8 thoughts on “Dining with One

  1. sigh. agreed. i made much nicer food when I was the only one eating it. the husband will eat pretty much anything I put before him, and there’s no time to unwind in the kitchen anymore. it’s some variation of rice and lentils with random vegetables most nights. forget homemade ravioli- i can’t even be bothered to boil pasta because that means keeping an eye on the clock and draining it.

    (FWIW, my great-grandmother was a businesswoman and couldn’t cook. she spent her forty-year widowhood eating canned tuna and raw vegetables and turning down meal offers from her nearby children)

  2. Eating alone is SO much more preferable!

    When I meet up with a friend at an eatery, I am torn between making interesting chit-chat and providing the cheesy deliciousness in front of me sufficient attention. After all, if I am going to consume a month’s worth of calories, shouldn’t I enjoy it, and give it all my focus?

    I’ve been conscious lately of the art of digestion, and talking while eating isn’t too good for it, nor is being stressed.

    In a Paris restaurant, a man entered, took a seat, and with a cigarette in one hand, a book in the other, and a glass of wine at his elbow, he ordered a personal pizza and looked classically, Frenchly, chic. The smoking thing is thankfully not an option here, but whenever I’m eating out I always think wistfully of that scene.

    At home, I often cook happily for one. Then again, I also really like high-fiber cereal. There are options.

  3. Yes! Though it feels like a waste of money to eat out when I’m alone- I only do it to be sociable. And honestly I usually eat dinner with my fb friends (i. e. while reading my fb news feed).

  4. I’m married and one of my favorite things about business trips is going out to eat alone. Relaxing quietly with a book in a nice restaurant on someone else’s dime, with no one else to worry about? That’s a lovely evening.

  5. What? I enjoy eating so much more with my husband than I ever did alone. I love when he enjoys the food I make.

  6. Why does it have to be one or the other? I don’t cook or eat tuna and stale bread. I get take-out, or buy frozen meals. I always eat well, I just don’t make it!

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