Dining alone–the cat & I
I love food, cooking and wine. I love enjoying all those things; however, I live alone (except for the cat–so not really alone), but I still enjoy food. I frequently invite friends to join me when I want to cook something that is in no way suited for dining alone, such as roast goose with trimmings from soup to last course; however I do not want good food limited to only to occasions when I have company.
I’ve been living alone and cooking for one for more years that I will admit publicly. I think that I have amassed enough experience that I’d like to share what I have learned, and learn from the experience of others who cook for one so I’ve decided to hop on the blog bandwagon. While I love inviting friends and cooking for lots of people, I have to contend with every day meals for me.
Unfortunately, my food does not happen as easily as the cat’s–no sack of nutritionally complete kibble in the cabinet. I’ve been through the take-out (or should that be carry-in), eat-out, prepared food from the deli, or the last-resort grilled cheese sandwich and the can of soup which is as close to kibble as I can get; been there, done that, already wore out the T-shirt.
I want a meal that I can sit down an enjoy with a glass of wine or beer and relax while I eat. I would also like to have healthy food, free of sesquipedalian ingredients that make me think back to my days in organic chemistry laboratory, and reasonably priced. That seems to eliminate processed, packaged food, and most carry-out foods. That leaves me cooking for one and a cat.
I’m a firm believer that eating alone should not be a matter of a ham sandwich on a paper plate. We usually think of “dining” as something of an event or a special occasion–I think of it as just enjoying good food and having a relaxing meal. It should be possible to do that for one person fairly easily.
My attitude about cooking and eating for one was shaped by reading M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating. In particular “On Dining Alone” where she relates the incident of Lucullus, noted Roman host, chiding his chef for being lackadaisical because the meal was only for one, not a banquet. The quotation from Lucullus as taken from Fisher’s article:
“It is precisely when I am alone,” the great gourmet answered icily, “that you require to pay special attention to the dinner. At such times, you must remember, Lucullus dines with Lucullus.” (p.96)
For many years now, that has been my position on food and cooking–my food should be of no lesser quality because I am eating alone. It may be simpler, with fewer courses or dishes than I would have were I having guests; it should still be prepared with care and enjoyed fully.
This blog is devoted to exploring ways to achieve that goal even when the cat and I dine alone. Perhaps someone else will benefit from the things that I have tried that have worked (or not), and I can learn from experiences of other solo diners. Cooking for one does require some effort–but the enjoyment is worth some effort, and there are lots of ways to make the task easier