cooking for one

eggplantPlease note: this post has been edited from its original content.

I recently took a trip to Portland, and visited the famous Powell’s Books. While there, I spent most of my time in the enormous cookbook section. One of the titles I picked up was called “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone”. It’s a collection of essays in which people discuss the various, sometimes odd things they cook or eat when no one else is a factor. Since I often find myself cooking and/or eating alone, I was drawn to these essays in a sort of voyeuristic way, to see what others had to say on the subject.  The essays ranged from humorous to sad to indulgent to just plain bizarre, and overall I’d say it’s a very strong collection and a quick, fun read that I would recommend to anyone into food writing.

Full disclosure: the last two recipes on this site were actually items I made weeks ago and just got around to posting. I’ve been in a funk the last few weeks, and haven’t had much of an appetite, or a desire to cook. So, I’ve mostly been subsisting on frozen burritos, random leftovers, cereal, a lot of eggs, and the occasional carry-out.

I do have food stories and photos to share from my recent trip to Portland and Seattle. I’m working on it, but it may take me some time to get motivated to posting them. In the meantime, if anyone has a recipe to share and wants to do a guest blog entry here, please get in touch.

“…I consider cooking to be an act of love.  I do enjoy the craft of cooking, of course, otherwise I would not have done so much of it, but that is a very small part of the pleasure it brings me.  What I love is to cook for someone.  To put a freshly made meal on the table, even if it is something very plain and simple… is a sincere expression of affection, it is an act of binding intimacy directed at whoever has a welcome place in your heart.”

-Marcella Hazan, from the essay “Eating Alone”

“Eating alone is not nature’s way.  Babies never eat alone.  They can’t.  Children don’t, unless they’re in tragic circumstances.  Old people eat alone regularly and it’s dreadful.  No wonder they lose their appetites.  My theory… is that to compose a happy character, and thus contribute to making the world a nice place to live in, you’ve either got to be fed (that is, by someone other than yourself who cares about you), which feels good and means that you’re part of something larger than yourself; or, you’ve got to be the person feeding (that is, other people–not just dogs!– that you care about).  That has the same positive effect.”

-Laura Calder, from the essay “The Lonely Palate”

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6 responses to “cooking for one

  1. I know what you are going through 😦 my constant companion for 4 years is also now out of the picture. It’s hard enough to remind myself to eat let alone cook anything. It just doesn’t feel right. I don’t enjoy it now. I’m sorry you are going through this too.

  2. You embarked on a very dangerous trip. I spent less than ten minutes in Powell’s and already had six cookbooks about slow food, James Beard, and others. My husband got me out of there quickly only to go to the technical bookstore a block away but it poured so we missed it.
    Cookbooks are like novels. Read them all the way through if they’re worth it.

    I’ve a blog entry called Cooking for One and was referred to yours. I spent years thinking a cheese quesadilla or pb sandwich over the kitchen sink was a meal, and it is but not every meal.

    Our vacation trip from No Cal to Portland and Seattle was incredible and Portland is a town we’d love to call home. Anyway, keep cooking! Dee@cookingwithdee.net

  3. I love your blog. Love it! But I find the Laura Calder quote here very unsettling- she’s way off base IMO, especially in regards to what composes a truly “happy character”.

    For competent, independant adults: eating alone can be absolutely luxurious and decadently private – a vital contributor to a genuinely happy and secure character. And a way to connect, in solitude, with something even larger – and more timeless – than the connecting that occurs when we’re feeding other capable adults, or being fed.

    • Sarah- I see your point… the interesting thing about the book, though, is that all perspectives (including the one you put forth) are represented in the various essays. There were a couple essays I recall that celebrated the “indulgence” of a solitary meal, and of taking the time to care for yourself enough to make or eat something memorable. I recommend giving it a read!

  4. I hear you, and I have ordered the book already based on your initial post! That Laura Calder quote just really freaked me out and I was getting picky.

    I’ve already said this, but your blog is great and I really enjoy reading it. And viewing your photos too!

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