Another bloody food blog…why?
Yes, there are far too many food blogs. So honestly, I’ve not really got a compelling reason for starting this one. In fact, this may be my only post. I don’t suppose it’s even going to be particularly original hence the disconnect between the title and the URL. (theartofeatingalone.wordpress.com was already taken). But my friend Brett, food lover, lawyer, wannabe restaurateur and yes, blogger pointed out that there might be a self-serving benefit to writing a food blog. So this may be a little cynical – yes, but valueless – I hope not.
So that answers the initial question I’ve set. Next i suppose I better set up what might make my blog useful if not entertaining. And that I suppose comes from my own perspective on the consumption of food itself.
Fundamentally we all accept that sometimes the world throws you a load of crap and you just have to get on with it. In general I’ve been a very lucky person. Born with good health to a happy family, well educated and brought up to enjoy food as more than just fuel. As a long time food lover, keen cook and seeker out of company I’ve always enjoyed sharing the eating experience. In childhood it was the excitement of an Indian restaurant in the next town, the novelty of eating out nearly every night on holiday and the comfort of my dad’s fish soup on a Sunday. Then, through my 20’s it was the exploding new British London food scene – Gary Rhodes, MPW, J-CN and all the ‘chefs = rock stars’ of the 1990s that fed me and my as yet unmortgaged and childless friends. In my 30’s I traveled far and wide, from LA to NYC, Singapore the Far East, sometimes for work mostly for pleasure but always seeking out the interesting gastro-experience, from brunch at Pastis to dirty Martinis on a roadside in Bali. As the food grew up so did my tastes. All through these years I had many of my best food moments in the company of the love of my life. He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen and as if that wasn’t enough, he shared my love of food. I enjoyed sharing every kind of sensory overload it is possible to have with him over the years. But looking back now it was for all to brief a moment, a seeming heartbeat of bliss, a mere taste of joy. Because then came the crap. * Big bucket loads of ordure that I was sure could have waited politely for at least another 30 years. But no. My favourite eating accomplice left me.
He left me in the most definitive way possible. He didn’t want to, he certainly didn’t plan it and for a while I thought the food in my mouth was ashes, never to be enjoyed again. Grief has a power to destroy even the most basic of human instincts. But through the loss and mourning came a little hope, the tiny filament of human spirit is hard to douse and slowly I realised that one of the many joys we shared would have to be experienced alone. Not always I must say – that sounds like I was a hermit – but sometimes even when I’d rather stare into an M&S Chicken Kiev, I’d force myself to go out and eat. Otherwise, it was just all too sad to contemplate
And then something rather lovely happened. I’m not sure exactly when it was, but at some point during the last 3 years I must have remembered I had always found a joy in eating alone. The lack of distraction, the freedom from judgement, it can be quite seductive. It’s rather like going to the cinema solo; it allows a kind of focus and self-satisfaction that is always diluted by a fellow eater. Of course, nothing can surpass the sublime joy in passing a fork and beseeching your mate to ‘taste, taste!’: the gourmet’s kiss, a primordial desire to pass almost from mouth to mouth, to nourish those you love. ..But saying bugger it and ordering the foie gras followed by the kidneys and cocking a snook to menu balance does almost, almost make up for that lack of that kiss.
And so this blog will share my own experiences, hints on restaurants that a solo-friendly (or at least not deliberately alienating) and my recipes for eating at home on your jack jones. And along the way I’m sure I’ll share my irritations and niggles about the travails of the single life of a gourmet intent on mastering The Art of Eating Alone.