I have been married about 38 years. All good!! So the idea of eating alone on a regular basis is rather foreign to me. Since I went from my folk’s house, to a college dorm to my own home I haven’t had much chance to eat out alone. I did it once, with a book, and it was nice, but most of the time if I eat alone it is at home. And usually I do take the time to cook for myself. Usually Indian. Or maybe Asian. And usually I enjoy it. But I might not if it was on a regular basis!!

Why am I telling you all this? Because of the book. It is a collection of stories by people who do eat alone on a regular basi. But….

    …eating alone isn’t natural. Life’s greatest sensual pleasure (or at least its most consistenetly attainable) should be shared. I happen to believe that humans were born to feed one another. The meal is our celebration of nurturance, our secular communion.”

      ~Steve Almond~

And that is my feeling exactly. Eating is something that is much more enjoyable with other people. Sharing stories, sharing desserts, sharing togetherness. But maybe alone is okay, too. Quiet. Selfish eating. ME TIME!! Sometimes.

    The Year of Spaghetti by Haruki Murakami
    Eating Alone by Maracella Hazan {probably the first woman in her family to eat alone}
    The Legend of Salsa Rosa by Ben Karlin
    Asparagus Superhero by Phoebe Nobles {she really enjoys asparagus}
    Alone in the Kitchen with Eggplant by Laurie Colwin {in her closet sized apartment with Wilt Chamberlain}
    Instant Noodles by Rattawut Lapcharoensap {“It’s what you add to it that counts!”}
    How to cook in a New York Apartment by Laura Dave {don’t cook that which leaves its smell behind.}

are just a few of the essays included. Some of them funny, some of them sad. {You will have to find out which are which!!} Some of them I read more than once. All of them intriquing.

    And when I cook I refuse to use more than one pan. A great meal alone is joyous but ending it with a lot of dishwashing diminishes the effect.

      ~Amanda Hesser

My favorite was the first story,”Alone in the Kitchen with Eggplant” beacause Laurie’s essay just sort of summed everything up.

    Dinner alone is one of life’s pleasures. Certainly cooking for oneself reveals man at his weirdest. People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches deep fried and eaten with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam.”

Eating is a pleasure – usually – and eating alone can be if the time, place, food is right. As with this recipe from Karlin’s essay:

Salsa Rosa for One

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
    i small zucchini, sliced (optional)
    3 roma tomatoes, chopped
    1 box Pomi diced tomatoes, around 20 ounces
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/3 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
    1 box panna (cooking cream), about 6 ounces, or half pint heavy
    1/3 pound dry pasta (spaghettini, cappellini, or any long thin noodle. Do not try with fusilli, penne, or farfalle)
    Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it just turns brown.
Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until it has a yellowish sheen.
Add the fresh and boxed tomatoes. (Canned whole tomatoes will work too—just make sure there are some fresh ones in there.)
Lower the heat a bit and cook until all the tomatoes start break-ing down and forming a sugo (sauce).
Now add the butter, cheese, and cream, but don’t add it in all at once.
Mix it in, so the Sauce continues to cook and reduce down. You want to do at least three or four waves.
Once it’s all in, set the heat to low and cover.
Boil your water and cook your pasta al dente. Remember, it will finish cooking once it’s out of the boiling water, so don’t leave it in too long.
After you strain the pasta, throw it back into the pot with a nice pour of extra-virgin olive oil.
Add some salt and pepper, then pour the salsa rosa over the pasta.
Mix, but not too roughly, just so it gets slithery with sauce.
Eat it.
Run a marathon the next day.

It was VERY tasty. [Sorry no pics, it was late, I was tired.] And yes, you will feel the need to run it off the next day!!!

If you get a chance, pick up this collection of short stories. Enjoyable!

To see other ‘book reports’ visit The Kitchen Reader.

This month’s selection comes from Ani of Anjeme.