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July 29, 2009

What We Eat When We Eat Alone

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng

Honestly, I love eating alone. More so at restaurants than at home, but I still enjoy it either way. The problem with eating alone at home is that cooking for one is difficult, especially if you need a lot of variety like I do. But I still cook up a storm because I am not easy to satisfy, so I’m not going to short change myself. At restaurants, I head straight for the bar (if they have one), and I am perfectly content to enjoy my solitude or to strike up a conversation with the bartender or my fellow diners. It’s fun and liberating!

Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin have spent a lot of time asking people the question, “What do you eat when you eat alone?” And they have just come out with a book of the same title. The couple have documented a wide variety of answers, from those who eat in bed or over the counter to those who make an elaborate meal or learn to cook to impress.

The book is really a portrait of human behaviors, some predictable and others fascinating. What’s striking is the wide range of behaviors. You can tell a lot by what and how a person eats.

The book has wonderfully witty illustrations by Patrick McFarlin and includes 100 dining-alone recipes.

Deborah MadisonPatrick MacFarlin