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.