For many, eating alone is a dreadful event; feelings such as loneliness, ridicule and boredom are present. This could be blamed on the fact that it strips a meal of all the “fun and interesting” bits. Human beings don’t eat merely for the purpose of nurturing the body; many things accompany us on our meals. Each culture has it’s own traditions regarding food: preparation, service and the journey towards our mouths tends to change drastically around the world. The whole of our experiences around the table are almost like a ritual- although I enjoy my food with fork and knife in a high table, some may do so while sitting on the floor with chopsticks.
Food really is a cultural manifestation.
And yet spite of all the diversity, these rituals seem to have one thing in common:
the act of sharing.
However, I’d say it’s about time we see the possibilities that sharing a meal with oneself has.
Having no company means your five senses can give their undivided attention to food and the process of eating.
Being by yourself in a meal does not have to be an impediment, but it should be considered a golden opportunity to engage with the meal itself. Without distractions, a plateful can turn into a much deeper aesthetic experience.
When eating, we often make TASTE the protagonist.
But if there is no conversation, you can LISTEN to your surroundings and to your own thoughts, which can often go unnoticed.
You can put attention to what your food LOOKS like, admiring different colours and textures that are nourishing you.
Moreover, you can close your eyes and SMELL, trying to identify the aromas of the different components in your food.
Finally, you can truly abandon yourself, concentrating on how your body FEELS.
I don’t mean to ditch tabletop conversations and lingering smiles over a meal, but rather to invite those while feasting on instant ramen in their underwear in front of the TV set, to stop feeling sorry for themselves and start enjoying those meals alone.
Set the table and treat yourself, because if there’s one thing that separates us from chimps is our ability to enjoy a meal not just for its nutrition, but because we feel like relishing it.