Friday, January 23, 2015

Dining solo

I love dining with friends, whether going out for a nice meal, or having a potluck together. When I’m cooking for family and friends, I think the more the merrier. I tend to cook more than necessary, a trait I’ve inherited from my mother. There’s nothing worse than not having enough food for everyone!

By circumstance, I tend to dine alone more often than not. Ever since my son, B, moved out, it’s been just me for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And while I love the company of others at mealtimes, I think basically I’m a loner and oftentimes prefer to dine alone.

I know many people are singles and have no choice but to dine by themselves, but they are horrified at the thought of having a meal alone out of their homes, whether at a coffeeshop, café or restaurant. They would much rather request for a take-out to bring home than sit down at a table by themselves. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to make do with my own company, but I don’t find that prospect all that daunting.

I’m out at least a few times a week, and so find myself dining solo quite a lot. No, I don’t whip out a book, although I must admit that the mobile phone keeps me occupied while waiting for my meal. Some cafes provide magazines and other reading material, and I do look forward to a good read, especially of those magazines that I wouldn’t normally buy myself.

While I’m a loner, I do like to observe others and if the opportunity presents itself, eavesdrop a little on conversations. I think it’s fascinating to have a glimpse into the lives of others around me, whether it’s a mother and her kids, or friends sharing gossip. Sometimes I discover that they’re actually talking about someone I know, which keeps me agog throughout my meal!

So I’ve sat in coffeeshops by myself, usually having to share a table with others. Because it’s hot and crowded, I tend to finish my meal as quickly as possible. In cafes, where it’s more comfortable and there’s usually reading material, I tend to linger over my food and coffee if I don’t have anywhere I need to be just yet. I’ve also sat alone  in fast food restaurants where perhaps you’ll find more single diners.

I probably have the most fun dining by myself when I’m in another country. Somehow, it’s very pleasurable to step into a café or even nice restaurant and order a complete meal by myself, together with a glass of beer or wine. The waiters know I’m a visitor and are extra solicitous, taking time to make sure I’m comfortable and happy with my food. The one thing I don’t like about eating alone? I see so many items on the menu that I want to order and try but can’t. At least with friends, we get to share.

While I think it’s perfectly fine to dine alone in a café or restaurant, I’ve never sat in a bar alone. I suppose it’s just a hang up that I have, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a desperately lonely old lady, or worse, that I have a drinking problem. I don’t have any issues with being the first in my group to arrive at a bar, and wait for the others by myself. Some women I know won’t even consider being the first to arrive, and will call to make sure that someone else in the group is in the bar already! The truth of the matter is that nobody really cares! And as I get older, the inhibitions are also slipping away. Now another thing I haven’t done (yet) is go to the movies by myself.  One day perhaps ...

Feeling on top of the world with seafood paella in Barcelona.

Nobody does french onion soup like the French!
Dining al fresco while people watching in Seville.
Breakfast alone with a perfect cup of coffee and croissant.
There's nothing like a cold beer on a hot afternoon.
My favourite escargots and a glass of wine - magnifique!

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