Book: Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant (and, thoughts about eating alone)

While I don’t like short stories (generally speaking, with a few notable exceptions), I do like essay collections. This was a good one — various authors, including Nora Ephron, writing about eating alone. Meals, cooking, eating — what do we cook and eat when we’re by ourselves?

Obviously too many to talk about here, but many of these were really enjoyable, especially the first one, from which the book takes its title. The author, living in a miniscule apartment in Greenwich Village, cooks wonderful meals for herself, often involving many iterations of eggplant, and entertains an ever-revolving cast of guests in her small, barely-a-room apartment. From there, we learn about legendary family recipes cooked for oneself, all-white meals consumed at home alone, cold beans eaten out of a can, elaborate restaurant meals eaten proud, or hidden behind a book.

I loved most of these — it was highly enjoyable.

It made me reflect upon my own solitary eating habits, these past months of living alone. Since I pretty much had to start from scratch to re-discover what I liked to eat, it’s been a struggle at times. Some discoveries:

  • I can eat plate upon plate of tomato and cucumber salad, especially when they’re fresh from my own garden. With dressing, or without. With salt and pepper and vinegar and oil, or plain with lemon pepper.
  • Although convenient; I don’t like eating cereal for dinner. I always end up with a stomachache for some reason. The soymilk? I have no idea. Anyway; I’ve pretty much given up eating cereal (at all) for that reason. Oatmeal, however — totally fine, and a lovely meal anytime.
  • Toast is a perfectly acceptable dinner.
  • I vacillate between extremely simple meals (tomato-cucumber salad, sauteed vegetables and brown rice) and fairly elaborate casseroles and other one-dish meals. Sometimes I like to cook something a little more ‘special’ for myself. Not often, but sometimes it’s fun to find something interesting in a cookbook or blog and make it for myself. Last night it was homemade mac-and-cheese with assorted add-ins. Delicious. Also handy for lunches.
  • I don’t like frozen dinners or many pre-prepared foods. I’d rather have toast.
  • Or popcorn.
  • Cheese and crackers also totally acceptable.
  • I like a little dessert. Especially I like ice cream. I don’t particularly like having ice cream at other people’s homes, but it’s the perfect at-home, private dessert. You can have a lot or a little, you can do whatever you like to it, there’s lots of variety available, and it keeps in the freezer for a very long time (important because I don’t want it *all* the time…). When I was growing up, we almost always had ice cream in the house (usually homemade); for that reason it’s somewhat of a comfort food for me now.

Upon reflection, not too bad. Lots of veggies, not a lot of processed food, a little ice cream. There are worse diets.

I like to either eat at the table with a book, or on the couch with something on Netflix. I rarely watch regular TV. I do my dishes every night (well, almost). My fridge is usually bordering on bare, but I try to keep some kind of fresh vegetables, some cheese, and eggs at all times. Omelets are also pretty good one-person meals.

I like eating with people too — it’s way more fun to cook for someone else. However, it’s definitely been good to have this time to figure out what I like, all by myself.

7 thoughts on “Book: Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant (and, thoughts about eating alone)

  1. this book seems familiar. im wondering if i may have read it.

    anyway, i like this post and learning about you and your fridge habits. ive learned a lot about myself in the last few years in regards to my food habits.

    * i dont like it when we dont have milk in the house. there needs to ALWAYS be a gallon of milk. especially if we have plenty of beer and wine. if there is no milk then i am an unfit parent. (note: this rule doesnt apply to other families and im not passing judgement on people who dont have milk at any given moment. its a me thing.)

    *i eat really poorly during warm months. i eat a lot of fruits and veggies but i mix in a lot of crap too for no other reason than that i dont want to turn on the store/oven.

    *my dinner tonight was fruit, wine, and too many mini snickers.

    • It seems like something you would like. I know what you mean about the milk… I don’t actually drink milk and I don’t really like it in cereal or anything like that, but I always seem to have a little bit in the fridge for some reason or another. However, I had to learn to buy only small containers because it was always going bad. Bleck.

      Fruit, wine, and snickers sounds like a perfect dinner (for sometimes)

  2. Love toast as a meal or a snack. Our food co-op has a bakery and they make an awesome cinnamon-raisin bread that is so yummy toasted up and then topped with either homemade apple butter or sometimes crunchy peanut butter. :)

  3. I am a big fan of short stories and over the last few years have discovered essay collections and I LOVE ’em. As I don’t eat alone I don’t know how relevant it would be to me but it still sounds interesting. I used to have very little to do with meal prep but ever since I decided in Feb. to get healthy I have taken a much more active role, first to make sure I was totally in control of what I ate and then later just to be more of a help to my wife. I actually enjoy preparing things. We have a small rotation of simple meals that we like to cook and will mix in different things once in awhile for variety. I’m both longing for and dreading fall and winter. The dread comes solely from the disappearance of truly fresh fruit and vegetables. Fresh summer fruits have been a HUGE part of our meal plans for months now and I don’t know what we’ll do to maintain our healthy eating once those diminish.

    • My aversion to short stories is mysterious, but I do like essay collections. This was fun to read, regardless of your current eating situation. And so glad you’re doing more in the kitchen! It’s very satisfying and fun to do food prep, I think. In winter, it’s time to start turning towards squashes and greeens, and fresh homemade soups. That’s a good way to stay healthy and seasonal.

      • Yes, we’ll definitely be doing some good soups, veggie chili and such. My plan to keep on my healthy track with that kind of food is to not eat tons of bread with it, like I used to, and make sure I have plenty of fresh veggies as sides.

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