Happy new year, fellow kitchen readers!
January's book selection is “What We Eat When We Eat Alone” by Deborah Madison & Patrick McFarlin.
On a purely aesthetic level, this is a gorgeous book: crisp white pages, appealing use of colour and charming illustrations by co-author Patrick McFarlin. It also makes for a wonderful read.
Begun on a whim as a means of passing the time during long bus rides, the authors asked friends, foodies and complete strangers what they cook for themselves when they eat alone. The resulting conversations give us a glimpse into how other people really live. The meals were as varied and wide-ranging as you would expect, but what I wasn't expecting was just how candid some of those responses would be!
Sure there are those who will enjoy a salad or steamed vegetables, but there are others who will just eat melted cheese. And then there are those meals one wouldn't dream of eating with anyone else present: "I pour sardine juice onto cottage cheese while standing on one foot in front of the refrigerator, not putting down the other foot because there's been a meat leak from the vegetable drawer" says one.
Still others will go to great lengths planning, shopping for and preparing fabulous meals of fresh pasta or roast meats. But it seems most of us will cut corners a little when we are cooking for one.
I don't know about you but when I eat alone it tends to be a great opportunity to not cook. I will have cereal, sardines on toast or even just ice cream for dinner and I will delight in every mouthful. When I picture other people eating alone I imagine they do it far more properly and healthily than I.
"When I'm cooking for myself, it happens like an urge. That is, it probably isn't a regular mealtime. I first notice that I'm hungry and then I have a vision of something that's in the fridge or the pantry. Then I dream up a recipe for it." - Moky McKelvey, p45
Each chapter contains a selection of single serve recipes or simple ideas to run with if you happen to be cooking just for yourself. For me, the Fried Potatoes with Yoghurt Sauce on p156 are calling my name!
The main message of the book though is that eating alone can be a joyful and fulfilling experience. With no one else's needs to satisfy but your own, you can let your taste buds run wild, indulge in those foods that you truly love or even eat in bed if it suits you.