A friend of mine recently noted that I have this tendency to eat alone, to which I reacted with, “What’s wrong with that?”
It’s true that I often eat lunch on my lonesome and this is due to two personal reasons. First of all, I’d like to eat someplace where I can chill out and spend an hour away from work-related stress, from the pressures of the day. Second, a person – a foodie – who eats alone gets to cover more ground, so to speak, than the one who moves around in a pack; you don’t have to deal with finicky eaters, borderline anorexics, those poor unfortunate losers who seem to be allergic to everything, and those annoying hags and fags who would rather people-watch than eat. (Do you have any idea how heinously these people behave at a meal?!)
Plus, according to one of my favorite food writers, Amanda Hesser (Cooking for Mr. Latte; plus, she writes for the New York Times), eating solo can actually be good for you:
“In the same way that you should get massages and take naps or meditate, you should, everyone should, make it a point to eat out by yourself from time to time. You should be kind enough to yourself to lavish your appetite with good food without the interruptions of company. …some of the best meals of my life have been solitary.”
Eating alone gives you time to think and appreciate the things you’ve been blessed with, most especially the food you’re fortunate to have on your plate. It enables you to eat more slowly, chewing and tasting and relishing every bite of your meal. It allows you to be more daring with your menu choices than you would probably be if you were eating with a crowd.
Like Amanda Hesser, some of the best meals I’ve had are the ones I’ve eaten alone – and I was able to discover new, exciting flavors that I probably wouldn’t have encountered if I had opted to join others for a meal.
Eating alone gives you the opportunity to savor each and every flavor, every texture in the dish (or dishes) set before you. It gives you the chance to savor the good life sans such distractions as someone listing their dietary prohibitions or people who insist on “working lunches”. Don’t they know that talking shop over a meal spoils the appetite, ties the bowels into uncomfortable knots, and tends to leave a very bad taste in the m0uths of everyone present?! Jeez!
A solitary lunch, especially for those of you who suffer from burnout in more ways than one, also enables you to take stock of your current situation, to gauge how things are. Dining alone helps you gain perspective as it withdraws you from the epicenter of your troubles. Seriously, unlike some people who say they can take stress better over bacon and eggs, I’d rather look things over during a very good lunch – preferably one where I’m supposed to pace myself through the courses as opposed to having everything lumped onto a segmented plate and scarfed within the span of a mean hour. (Though I have to say that Japanese o-bento and Korean dosirak meals are an exception to the rule; I like savoring them section by section.)
Eating alone can be a most cathartic experience. It opens your eyes to all the possibilities you’ve missed out on because you’d rather join a herd that gets its culinary kicks ordering everything generic on the menu. (You know the sort: those everlasting sisig platters, oversized pizzas, burgers and fries for everyone, etc.) It reminds you that you are a unique individual: you have your own tastes, you have your preferences. And, by gum, no cow-brained herd-member can take your individuality away from you.
By all means, try having lunch alone for once. Go spoil yourself at some posh bistro or Japanese place. Try the stuff that gives your friends an attack of the squicks: real Indian food heady with spices, properly done Thai, stuff like sea urchin and eel instead of the usual tempura-tonkatsu combinations; get a real Aberdeen Angus steak with a pint of proper British ale, for the love of all that is sacred!
Believe me when I say that you, dear reader, will understand yourself better – and, as a result, will be a better person because of it.