in the past few weeks i’ve considered this topic greatly. with the help of the new gastronomica, in addition to best food writing of 2010 and even lucky peach, the notion of dining alone has been thoroughly covered. it was really gastronomica’s table for one by matt goulding that made me ponder this task that is daunting for most.
personally, i love eating alone. there’s nothing more comforting than pulling up a bar stool and sitting in silence for an hour or two (generally two). at the same time, i see and understand why people are afraid of dining alone. in addition to the obvious reasons, there are more personal, subconscious and universal reasons behind the inherent intimidation that dining alone seems to have on the average person.
perhaps a major reason why people hate eating alone is because they care what others think. from a restaurant worker’s standpoint, i can honestly say that I do not judge one tops. not every server/bartender/chef thinks that a solo diner has been stood up/is weird/etc., etc. Especially solo diners who are comfortable eating alone. It’s one thing when you’re hiding behind a cell phone screen, but when a one-top is completely present, not distracted by media, that’s when you can really have a great dining experience.
I do however, have some qualms about dining solo. In my experience, the best meals I’ve ever had, have been shared with one other person. Though others have disagreed with me, saying that the company tends to take away (or distract) from the food, I don’t feel that way. With the right dining companion, you don’t have to worry about your meal being compromised by a trivial argument, a mutual misunderstanding, or awkward silence. In fact, it’s often a good thing to have the best meals of your life with someone else. That is for me, anyway.
Places such as Next, Alinea, Noma, Uchi, El Celler de can Roca, are meant to be shared with someone. Granted, you shouldn’t go with a babe you just met, or an acquaintance, but a seasoned diner. A like minded individual. Someone who you can relate to, someone that you’d like to share one of the better meals of your life with. Someone you’re willing to spend at least 4 hours with indulging in provoking food and quality drink. If you don’t have that person in your life, then go alone. While it might be hard to recount for later acquaintances, at least there will be no spite towards an inadequate dining companion. And if you’re someone who doesn’t care about these things, then do the following: disregard this entire post. Also, stop propagating the stigma behind solo dining.
If you’re not a secure person, than you’ll have a difficult time eating alone. It’s really not as painful as you might think. Typically the only pain you should feel is the yearning for companionship that might hit you every once and a while.
coffee & cigarettes
it’s a natural combination. let me say this:
big bodied chocolate, caramel, raisin, smokey notes combined with rising dirt, brandied cherries, citrus, and nuttiness.
whoever said that wine and cheese was a natural affinity clearly didn’t do their research behind coffee and tobacco.
portion size (minimalism, a route americans dislike… obviously)
smaller is better. it’s the quality not the quantity. maxims i live by. these don’t just refer to size and friendship, but food also. the minimalist approach to food has certainly tried to take root in american culture, but the majority seems to be rejecting the beauty behind restrained portions. they don’t see the beauty in intricate small plate designs, nor do they see the amount of labor that goes behind breaking down flavor profiles and building up rather than putting a menagerie of flavors and components on a plate. sure, you might not be getting a 12oz steak, but do you know what has replaced the 6oz lost? creativity, thought, processes, labor. let’s do a comparison.
Sure, the sundae on the bottom is beautiful. A quintessential Ice Cream Sundae. But don’t you think it’s a bit much? Can’t we begin straying away from that? A hot mess. Nothing strategically placed, no rhyme or reason? I know that Big Macs, speak to the American notion that bigger is better, but it’s time to abandon that mindset and move onto smaller and better things.