Doing it Alone

Sure, I like doing it in the bedroom.  But I enjoy it just as much in front of the television, in the kitchen, or even out in the open at a local bar or restaurant. 


Of course I’m talking about eating alone…what did you think I meant?


I’ve never been shy or embarrassed by eating alone.  In fact, sometimes I even prefer it.


I guess it started when I was in college.  In between classes I would go to this Arabic coffee shop on Bowdoin Street in Boston, order Turkish coffee, maybe some hummus or lentils and rice, and watch the patrons play chess and eavesdrop on their conversations — which was easy enough to do considering how the tables were squeezed so close together.


Harvard Square was another place I’d go alone when I had time to kill during college – shopping at Urban Outfitters, Newbury Comics and of course the bookstores.  Then, off to Grendel’s Den, Casablanca, or even Au Bon Pain for a drink and maybe a bite to eat. 


I guess it’s not so unusual to see people alone these days at a Starbucks or a local pub, but I used to frequent Harvard Square in the mid- and late 1980’s — before everyone had a laptop and a cell phone to keep them company.


Enjoying a coffee or a beer solo is a great way to unwind and contemplate the day.  People do it all the time, but I’m learning it’s a rare bird who enjoys an entire meal alone.  I’m not talking about noshing at the bar while chatting up the bartender (or with your head hidden in a book).  I’m talking full out, no denying it, table for one at a joint with white table linens and everything.


For many of us, eating is such a social experience that I don’t think we consider the possible joys of doing it alone…at least not fine dining.  I find that when I eat alone I pay more attention to how my food tastes.  When the “distraction” of conversation is removed from the equation, everything becomes about the experience of enjoying the meal.


I mean how many times do you notice if there’s music playing in the background at the restaurant?  Have you ever even tasted that first sip of cold water with a lemon slice floating prettily in your glass bouncing against those perfectly square ice cubes?  What about the weight of the silverware?  A steak tastes so much better when eaten with a knife and fork that have some real heft to them. 


Nothing beats clean, simple flavors when you’re really paying attention to what you’re eating.  The peppery taste of arugala in a salad with heirloom tomatoes and high-quality extra virgin olive oil and just a little sea salt.  The hint of butter on your seared sea scallops.  How the taste of your merlot, cabernet or malbec seems to change over time – the first fruity sip on your tongue and in your mouth…how it becomes more complex as it hits the back of your throat…it even changes slightly depending upon what you eat with it. Delightful, subtle flavors that I often miss when the reason for dinner out is catching up with my best gal pals.


I have to admit, however, that despite my claims of being a foodie, I still spend too many nights in front of the TV eating dinner alone.  And more often than not it’s something out of the freezer – or worse yet cold cereal, a bowl of brown rice, or grilled ham and cheese with tomato – always mysteriously gone even before the first commercial break!


On the flip side, there’s nothing better than eating ice cream straight out of the container while alone in bed (even when I’m not in the midst of yet another romantic break up).  Boyfriends have complained for years, but I’ll eat Cheez-its in bed too; I just do it on their side of the bed.  I’m such a connoisseur of the post-coital snack, that one guy even put my famous roast beef sandwich with goat cheese and roasted red peppers on his café’s menu!  (I didn’t hear any complaints from him about crumbs!)


I just don’t know why so many people are hesitant to “indulge” alone.  When I eat alone, I can get anchovies on my pizza.  I can order a “loaded baked potato” and still ask for extra sour cream.  And I don’t have to share my dessert.  That alone should be reason enough to give it a try!


I’ll see you at a table-for-one around Pembroke!


2 responses to “Doing it Alone

  1. I sometimes forget how good you are at writing. Although I do not, and never will, enjoy the experience of eating alone, you made me want to give it a try. Can food really taste like that?

  2. Of course I’m talking about eating alone…what did you think I meant?



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