Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Some thoughts on eating alone

No recipe today - I'm recovering from New Year's Eve and can only manage toast and coffee today! Social engagements over the next few days mean I won't really start cooking properly again until the weekend - I'll be bringing you some wintry comfort food shortly.

Pic: Table For One, Tumblr
In the meantime, this Guardian article on eating alone - Eating alone: there's no shame in a table for one - struck a chord with me. It was published a week before Christmas but I wanted to post this at the start of a new year.

Eating alone in restaurants in the UK is still seen as rather sad and pathetic. Often enough, it's a guarantee you'll be given a table tucked away at the back and service will be hurried so as to get rid of you as soon as possible. That way they can give the table to two people.

I've experienced the complete opposite abroad. Travelling around Europe, as I do two to three times a year, I've never been given a horrible dark corner and the wait staff have never seemed to mind me lingering as long as I want. I've always felt welcomed.

If I'm on holiday, I don't want to be rushed - I want to relax and enjoy my meal, sip my way through a bottle of wine and people-watch. I usually have my Kindle with me so I can read if I wish. (I'm not the only one - just look at the number of lone diners reading while they eat on the Table For One Tumblr.)

Pic: Table For One, Tumblr
I'd like to see some of that European sensibility rub off on restaurateurs here - after all, our money is as good as anyone else's. As the number of us living alone rises (currently around 9 million), they'd be foolish to ignore the solo pound.

However, I'm not sure I agree with the Guardian article's round-up of ways to make lone diners feel, well, less alone. They do imply that eating on your tod is still a bad thing. I don't think it is. And I definitely disagree that cooking for one is "not easy". That sort of attitude will send lots of people scurrying back to the chill cabinet for ready meals. I and all of you who land on The Lone Gourmet know that cooking for one can be both simple and pleasurable.

The comments below, when you get past the trollish ones, are enlightening, particularly the ones about women who dine solo. It's never been a problem for me but I can see that it could be for other women. 

What do you all think? Do leave a comment!

I'll end by wishing you all a happy 2014 - here's to cooking up a storm for the next 12 months!