It’s 6:00 pm and 98 degrees outside. I arrive home after a long day at work and turn my fan on…attempting to move some of the stale summer air. I browse my fridge and freezer, looking for something to satisfy my hunger. I find some frozen salmon, veggies, and some pork I’ve been marinating for a couple days now. I almost feel jealous.
I grab the pork and turn on the stove. As the pan on the stove warmed up, I poured a glass of iced tea. The glass started sweating immediately. I felt its pain. As I take a sip, several drops of water drip down my chin and onto my chest. A few fall into the pan and sizzle away. The heat from the stove starts to dry the drops of water on my chest and I suddenly decide against heating the apartment even more. I reluctantly put the pork back in the fridge, wishing I could keep it company in there. I grab a sleeve of saltine crackers and a jar of peanut butter. Sweet, satisfying, and indulging.
My apartment starts to cool down as I go to my freezer for some ice cream. I opened it and saw that freezer burn was beginning its invasion around the edges of the container. It mocks me. I threaten to throw it away but figure I’ll just eat it and show it who’s boss.
I dive right in with a spoon and decide to spend the rest of the night watching 30 Rock. I giggle at Liz Lemon’s desire to just go home and eat a block of cheddar cheese by herself. I take one more bite of ice cream and leave it out for a few minutes before putting it away. Yeah, who’s got freezer burn now, bitch?
I put away my dishes and pour another glass of iced tea. These are the moments I look forward to during the day…coming home and being in the peace and quiet of my apartment…not having to worry about soccer practice or marching band rehearsal or a pressing 40-page paper. I can simply sit on my couch in my PJ’s and dine alone.
Sound familiar? Are you a solo diner? Do you enjoy the pleasure and satisfaction that comes with dining alone? Or maybe you just tell people you enjoy coming home and making salmon with red wine reduction sauce, but really you’re eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches with chips and salsa? I know we’ve all been there…and I know everyone knows the trouble and frustration that comes with eating alone…which is why I highly recommend adding Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant to your summer reading list.
Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant is a collection of short essays written by famous authors, chefs, and playwrights. Contributors include Steve Almond, Jami Attenberg, Mary Cantwell, M.F.K. Fisher, Holly Hughes, Jeremy Jackson, and Nora Ephron. Each essay discusses the pleasures, the frustration, the creativity, that comes with eating alone and cooking for one.
My mother bought me this book after moving into my first apartment. I remember reading it and literally laughing out loud, jotting down notes, and copying recipes into my journal. It’s filled with tips and recipes that are both creative and delicious…and most of them are extremely cheap to make!
After reading it, I purchased copies for some of my friends as housewarming gifts when they moved into their first apartments. It’s a book that can be read front to back, back to front, or you can select various essays to read if you don’t want to read the whole thing in one sitting. It’s a great addition to anyone’s recipe shelf and you will find yourself just a tad bit wiser after indulging in other people’s successes and mishaps.
One theme that runs pretty continuously throughout each essay is the infamous “favorite meal for one.” In nearly every essay, writers talked about what they love to make when they dine alone. Simply to continue the theme, here’s mine:
Serves 1 very hungry person or 2 kind of hungry people
1 ball of real mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
2 ciabatta rolls
8 leaves of basil
salt and pepper to taste
- Turn on your broiler. Slice ciabatta rolls open and place cut side up on a cookie sheet covered with tin foil. Add 2 slices of mozzarella cheese to each roll and put in the broiler until cheese is melted.
- Slice your tomato into 4 slices. Season with salt and pepper.
- When your bread is done, remove it from the broiler and add 4 leaves of basil to each sandwich and 2 slices of tomatoes.
If it’s 6:00 pm and 98 degrees outside, this sandwich can also be eaten cold…or if you’re watching your figure, skip the cibatta bread and toss chopped basil, cherry tomatoes, and little mozzarella balls with olive oil, salt, and pepper and have a caprese salad.
SUGGESTION: READ IT! Almost everyone has eaten alone at one point in their life…or has had the desire to! This book will give you a taste of what it’s really like and may awaken some repressed memories of college years…
NEXT WEEK: I’m preparing for my upcoming camping trip by reading one of the best camping stories of the decade. HINT—I have my nail clippers packed already.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.