Friday, April 1, 2011

How to eat alone

I have friends who cook and eat alone.  Some of them say that they do not enjoy it, either because it's too much trouble for just themselves, or because their work schedules interfere and they are too tired to cook.  Eating alone can be lonely.  Cooking for yourself can feel bothersome, even overwhelming.  I want to help with that and am currently working on posts that will provide recipes and suggestions for simple, satisfying meals that involve just a little preparation and planning.  I'm hoping to inspire those of you who love food but dread cooking for yourself to not only feel better about how you choose to eat when you eat alone, but to add some new components to your cooking repertoire.

In preparation for the future posts I'm planning to publish, I want to help lay some psychological groundwork that might be helpful in order to take good care of yourself with food.  Perhaps it will help you to see cooking and eating in a different way.  I first encountered this poem by 20th century American poet Daniel Halpern during a long (but intensely creative) period of solitary living.  It not only validated my need to take care of myself by cooking wonderful meals for just one person, it celebrated solitude and the wholeness of being just one.  To all of you who cook and eat alone, I admire your spirit and your fortitude.

How to Eat Alone

While it's still light out
set the table for one:
a red linen tablecloth,
one white plate, a bowl
for the salad
and the proper silverware.
Take out a three-pound leg of lamb,
rub it with salt, pepper and cumin,
then push in two cloves
of garlic splinters.
Place it in a 325-degree oven
and set the timer for an hour.
Put freshly cut vegetables
into a pot with some herbs
and the crudest olive oil
you can find.
Heat on a low flame.
Clean the salad.
Be sure the dressing is made
with fresh dill, mustard
and the juice of hard lemons.

Open a bottle of good late harvest zinfandel
and let it breathe on the table.
Pour yourself a glass
of cold California chardonnay
and go to your study and read.
As the story unfolds
you will smell the lamb
and the vegetables.
This is the best part of the evening:
the food cooking, the armchair,
the book and bright flavor
of the chilled wine.
When the timer goes off
toss the salad
and prepare the vegetables
and the lamb.  Bring them out
to the table.  Light the candles
and pour the red wine
into your glass.
Before you begin to eat,
raise your glass in honor
of yourself.
The company is the best you'll ever have.

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