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Curled up on my couch, plate in hand. Vanilla-scented candle lit; the point of early evening where it’s not too bright but I do not yet need to turn on a light. Tart apple slices with creamy havarti cheese. Summer sausage. Crisp carrots with a spinach dip. Alone, I listen to love songs from Broadway, snuggle down in my robe and extremely old leopard-print slippers, and dream of words coming together.
I am reading a book that seems so situation-appropriate right now it’s almost funny. I ran across Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant while I was trying to find some books to take on vacation a few weeks ago. I remembered seeing it on Paperbackswap as something I might be interested in a while back, so I grabbed it and packed it in my bag. While I was too busy attending to the baby and playing pool with my sister to read as much as I thought I would, I did get around to starting it a few days ago.
The book is a collection of essays on eating alone. I confess I don’t mind eating alone in a restaurant. Cooking alone, however, is a completely different story. I love food; I love to eat; and yet, when I am by myself, I often come home, open the fridge, stare at it, and eat nothing. It’s not worth the trouble.
I am fascinated by the stories in this collection about what people cook for themselves. Saltines with cheese; anything that only uses one pan; soup; often, people cook the same thing over and over again without tiring of it (like asparagus).
I am not home for dinner by myself much, but if I am I pretty much fall back on two options: pierogies cooked with sauerkraut and Polish sausage or a plate of Granny Smith apples, havarti cheese, salami, vegetables, and spinach dip. Both dinners I would never expect Mr. V to eat. Things I like. Simple pleasures.
I’m confronted right now with the possibility of living just with Libbie during the week for months as we wait for our house to sell here in Nashville. Mr. V has to go to Chattanooga in August whether it has sold or not. It’s a frightening conjecture, but one I know many couples have gone through and survived. I may go literally insane trying to be a single, working mother…and I may either lose or gain 40 pounds. Cooking for myself is not my area of expertise. As one of the authors in the book explains, my joy in cooking is serving it to someone. I often tell people my spiritual gift is feeding people.
My relationship with food is so awkward, so strange: I love it, dream about it, fear it, hoard it. Eating alone, unrestricted by the foods my husband doesn’t like, makes me bite my nails. It could be a happy place … or my very own seventh circle of hell. No matter how much I wish it were just sustenance to me, it’s not. Too many years of battles, too many words read and eating plans attempted.
Dining alone. Oh, my.
What do you eat when you cook for yourself? How do you cook for 1?