Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Do You Eat When You Are Alone?

What do you eat when you are alone?

If someone were to ask me that question, I would say, "grilled cheese." I love to eat grilled cheese when I am dining alone, but today I ate a can of beets for lunch.

Yes, a can of beets. Not roasted. No goat cheese. No arugula. A can of beets, drained and tossed with olive oil, salt and oregano. A salad straight from my childhood. And delicious. Beet salad was definitely in my mother's rotation.  It never  supplanted the tossed green salad served after the meal, but  it was a side dish with--what? I don't remember. Maybe hamburgers, maybe cubed steak. Sometimes with a thinly sliced red onion, but always delicious.

Do you ever  wonder what people eat when there is no one around? I think what we eat when we are alone can be divided into two categories. There are those of us who live alone and therefore cook for ourselves on a regular basis.  In his article, Table for One, writer Nigel Slater believes that cooking for one is the perfect time to indulge his food desires and pour himself a glass of good wine.  Mr. Slater takes great pleasure in spending at least a few nights a week satisfying his culinary whims.

In her book, The Pleasures of Cooking For One, the legendary book editor turned author, Judith Jones turns the act of cooking for one into an homage of sorts.  She sets the table and pours the wine. And then dines solo. She has even made a cheese souffle scaled down for one.

But don't get me wrong, there are times, Mr. Slater says, when dinner for him could be a a tub of hummus, a bag of pita bread and a bottle of wine.  Or a bacon sandwich at midnight. That brings me to the next category. What do you eat when no one is looking?

Ah! See there is a difference. When no one is looking many of us resort to childhood favorites or bizarre combinations we would never think to eat in front of another living soul.  Years ago when John would work every third night, my favorite after-work dinner for one was a bowl of salty popcorn and a glass of white wine chased by a couple of pieces of dark chocolate. How healthy is that?

In my very unscientific poll, I saw a big trend in solo eating of carbohydrates--a bowl of cereal, cake, a pan of brownies; an entire candy bar or a half a pan of cornbread as well as  the all-time favorite, cold pizza.  I've also known someone, who shall remain nameless, who thought the perfect dining companion was a can of cold spam. When no one is around to disapprove of what we're eating, all bets are off.

So I ask you, what do you eat when you are alone?


  1. When I'm home alone and want a quick lunch and don't feel ambitious whatsoever, I layer an Utz potato chip with a piece of american cheese and dill pickle. I've also been known to do this with saltines, but I also add a bit of mustard to the mix.

  2. Recently, when my husband was out of town for a couple of days, I couldn't get enough cinnamon toast.

    Have you read Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant? It's fun.

  3. HI Michele,
    Well, I adhere to the Carb Trend!

    Sometimes I'll just boil up some capellini, dress it in good olive oil, s&p, and grated cheese. takes no time and satisfies.

    Or else, I do love toast with whatever spread strikes my fancy...butter and apricot preserves...goat cheese....peanut butter....

  4. Tracy--Wow! You never cease to amaze me or make me laugh!

    Denise--Sounds just delicious. Yes, I've read the book. It is a fun and revealing collection of essays.

    Nancy--Carbs are good.

  5. I am lazy when alone and I am afraid it's either toast with marmite and peanut butter or toast with peanut butter and strawberry jam. I hope you know what Marmite is, as I know it's a very English thing. If not it's a yeast spread that is made from the leftovers of making beer. It sounds revolting and the advert for it is that "You either love it or hate it" and that is very true and I love it!

  6. Peanut butter and jam--an all time favorite. I have not heard of marmite, but hope I get to try some one day.