The Joys of Dinner for One

After relocating from New York to the West Coast and living alone for the first time, one writer finds true pleasure in making new dinner plans...for one.
Simone Galob / Getty

It’s not that eating a bowl of pasta alone on the couch is crushingly lonely by definition, but there are details that can make it so. Almost spilling tagliatelle on the upholstery as you reach for the remote? Assuming there’s a new Project Runway to enjoy with your meal only to realize the latest episode isn’t available yet on demand? Oh damn, it’s Saturday night? It just doesn’t help.

I found myself thinking about this situation a lot when I relocated last year. In addition to curbing what my doctor called a “very severe” Vitamin D deficiency, my move from New York to Los Angeles allowed me to live alone for the first time, which meant I potentially had countless couch meals for one in my future.

To keep things on the rails, I took steps to feel like a civilized, adult lady living in the world on her own, and I mostly nailed it. This included things like purchasing six wine glasses from a real home goods store and promptly replacing one after it broke in my bathroom. Most importantly, I finally had room in my apartment for a dining table, so I bought one of those, too.

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It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating alone or the occasional-to-frequent couch meal; I live for a Shake Shack burger and a heavy pour of their house red on a quiet “Treat Yourself Tuesday.” But I find there’s a hurried, haphazard nature to many of my meals at home, and, in that lack of care, it’s easy to lose the essence of why food and wine are so thoroughly gratifying together.

In eating and drinking, as in life, the deliberateness of our choices satiates both the palate and the psyche. I found such satisfaction with my first truly deliberate meal at home, as I transformed homemade pasta into perfectly prepared cacio e pepe.

Sipping chilled Sauvignon Blanc out of my carefully selected wine glasses at the table I agonized over, in the apartment that was all my own, it came to me: Decisions may not change the tides, but they bring the warmth of pride and deep contentment to a meal for one. There’s nothing lonely about that.

Published on December 1, 2017
Topics: Essays



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