Mon, 20th May 2019
CODE Special
Head to head: eating alone


“To eat together can mean building

bridges, even stopping wars ...”


Margot Henderson, Rochelle Canteen



To sit and gather with friends and

family around the table, to eat and

drink together, to nourish and nurture

from the inside and out is one of life’s

true sensorial moments. Whether it’s a

small or large event, an evening feast

or an intimate lunch, it is the sitting

down together that can build bridges,

stop wars even.


The more we know of

people’s cultures the richer people we

are. The French for instance, have been

sharing the beauty of their food with

us for a long time now and we have

learnt that to sit at a crisp table cloth

(although not that many can afford the

cleaning bills these days) is one of the

great arts of past and present!


When a table is full to brimming

with food and wine, and the people

are squeezed in shoulder to shoulder,

the excitement can be giddy beyond

belief. Platters of food to share and

pass around add to the interaction

and joy of the coming together. “Eat

more chickpeas…” I keep saying,

“and maybe we would have more

peace. Chickpeace.” So many dishes

are for sharing; cassoulet, lasagne,

dumplings, paella, Georgian food, the

list goes on.


So, why are there wars with all these

incredible cuisines all over the world,

with women pouring love on to the table

for all to share, to get stuck into?


I say don’t eat alone,

eat together and stop wars!

It’s the same with families, the

more they eat together at the kitchen

table, the closer and the stronger the

bond will be. The happiest groups of

people in the world know to

sit down and share their worlds with

each other. Bonvivre!


Anyonethat knows me, knows that

I love a party and I’m a natural feeder,

so to share with your friends is always a happy

moment. The chaos, the mess, the

table that starts almost slightly stiff

then moves and relaxes, as a little wine

and food start to warm the cockles of

the heart, stomach and mind.

The atmosphere in a restaurant

is heightened by happy eaters,

interacting, chatting, coming together

enjoying each other’s company and

enjoying the food.






“Eating alone means

peace and quiet.

most of us don’t get

that in a normal day...”


Melanie Arnold, Rochelle Canteen



It is such a huge treat to eat alone, of

course we all love to sit at a groaning

table in the middle of family and friends,

but there’s a special feeling to the whole

process of eating by oneself. If I’m at

home on my own I don’t eat, but choosing

a restaurant, completely your own choice,

not compromising at all, I love that.


When I go out on my own I wander around until I

find somewhere that entices me in, whether

it’s the menu or the style of the place. I like

those more old-school restaurants for dining

alone, preferably with lovely white napkins,

but it doesn’t have to be posh. I like oldfashioned

family places, somewhere like

Ciao Bella.


I always take a book or a newspaper,

but a lot of the pleasure is in watching,

watching the world go by if I’ve scored

a window table, watching other guests

(now what’s their story?), watching the

waiters or watching the chefs if it’s a

counter place, all their skill and practice!


You get a lot of special attention if

you eat on your own, I think restaurants like

a solo diner, it means you’re serious about

going to their place. It always makes me feel a

bit like Mrs Robinson.


It’s not really primarily about the food though,

it’s sort of more about immersing oneself

in another world, with time to think and

relax, no need for conversation, just peace

and quiet for oneself. Most of us don’t get

much of that in a normal day. The world

we work in means that we always go to

restaurants with other people, so it’s such

a change to experience them quietly and

slowly. And even in the busiest place there’s

always room for one.


This article was first published in Issue 14 of CODE Quarterly.

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