The Joys of Dining Alone
The great Roman general Lucullus was known to throw the most elaborate feasts in all of Rome. Cicero, it was said, would decline invitations from him out of guilt at knowing all the expense Lucullus would go to to impress even a single guest. A famous story goes that one night, the general had no plans for his evening meal; no guests to entertain; no one to impress. Upon learning this, Lucullus’s chef remarked, “Sir, since you will be alone this evening, I thought I would prepare something simple.” “What?” Lucullus replied. “Did not you know, then, that today Lucullus dines with Lucullus?”
Single friends, solitary Romans, dateless gastronomes, lend me your ears. There’s a lot you can learn from Lucullus. He understood that the greatest dinner guest you will ever have is yourself. Instead of shying away from good meals when you’re traveling alone, without a mate, or waiting for your spouse to leave the slot machines, you should seize the day, and find a restaurant in which to indulge your wildest fantasies. And by “wildest fantasies” I mean eat and drink anything you damn well please. The joys of dining alone are many, and if you can get past your self-consciousness, you just might find yourself appreciating your meal in ways you didn’t think possible.
These days, you see single diners in good restaurants much more frequently. Gone are the stigmas attached to unaccompanied women (loose), and solitary men (loser), freeing them both to enjoy themselves. Just think about it: when you show up solo, you are the master of your domain. You can proceed at your own pace. Cocktails before dinner? No problem. Spend a half hour with the wine list? Why not? Dip your bread right in the butter dish? Of course! Flirt with the waiter? Great idea! Eat the butter straight up? It never tasted better. (You can also post all the pictures you want to social media without having to uphold your end of some pesky conversation…but I digress.)
Look upon eating solo as a chance to make your own excitement and you’ll find yourself enjoying things in unexpected ways. The key is to take control of the situation, and let the staff know right up front that you are not someone to be trifled with. Eating alone forces you to deal with your meal in a serious manner. When you dine by yourself, you will notice everything more: the taste of the food, the texture of the wine, the interplay of the service. Alone, you can digest everything in a more thoughtful way — and become a more thoughtful and appreciative diner in the process.