Table for One: Why More and More Americans Are Eating Alone
Epicurus said that “feeding without a friend is the life of a lion or a wolf.”
We used to live in a cultural time and space when being alone — and certainly, eating alone — was frowned upon, seen as a form of crippled weakness. Who among us did not come of age in a high school cafeteria where sitting by oneself was the ultimate definition of social suicide?
It’s becoming clear, however, that solo dining is no longer as socially taboo as it once was. Like it or not, we’ve become a pride of lions, a pack of wolves. We’ve adapted to feeding alone.
In the United States, at least, fewer and fewer people are pairing off, and even those who get married are doing so much later in life. According to the Census Bureau, more than a quarter of U.S. households today consist of one person, an increase from 13 percent in 1960. 51% of New Yorkers live alone, and 65% of Americans eat lunch alone at their desks.
Deciding that the self might be, somehow, worth cooking for is not that difficult of a jump to make. Yet the stigma, the indelible shade thrown against eating alone is real.
I’ve always felt that the greatest disservice to the lone-wolf home cook is that there’s a blatant disconnect between the need for scaled-down recipes and the stigma plaguing them — not to mention that no one on earth wants to eat the same humdrum casserole or soup for weeks on end.
For this very reason, I’ve collected a menu of delicious weeknight dinners — for one — to assuage the solo diner in you. Whether you’re a frequent-flyer bachelor/ette or entering foreign territory, my hope is that these recipes will legitimate my stance that feeding the self is something one should never be ashamed of. In fact, it’s the greatest act of kindness in the world: kindness to yourself.
Tyler Florence’s 52-ounce steak (pictured above) seems like the right place to start — because why not treat yourself to something this primal and epically delicious?
Giada De Laurentiis’ Orechhiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese is a good example of why the solo diner should always have dried pasta on hand.
Everyone, even bachelors and bachelorettes, should know how to cook an omelet, not to mention that it’s the perfect portion size for one. You wouldn’t want, anyway, to make omelets for more than one; paired with a simple side salad, it’s the perfect solitary supper.
Make sure to follow the layering order in this instant noodle soup. As it sits overnight, the roast beef marinates and becomes super flavorful. When you’re ready to eat, just add boiling water, wait a few minutes and enjoy being to envy of your office or dorm!
And, because there’s always room for dessert, The Pioneer Woman’s chocolate mug cake is an obvious essential for the solo diner’s weeknight arsenal.
Eric KimFood Network FeedJuly 6, 2017