What to cook when eating at home alone

It’s only for one night, I tell myself. She’ll be back before I know it. In the meantime, my energies must be devoted to what I’m having for dinner, Solo. All my happiness eggs are in this one basket. Omigod, do I even have any eggs?

On the upside, there’s no need for any delicate marital negotiations about the content, style or cost of a tonight’s meal. Or even on having dinner at all. I could get a takeaway? Well, too sad.

Illustration by Simon Letch.Credit:

But what to cook? I can have anything I like. This is close to a Miracle. All those things that are usually off the table are now on. Tripe. Brains. Tongue. Liver. Schweinebraten. Pork belly. Porchetta. Hot dogs. Knackwurst. French fries. But what if I pass out in a food Coma – and I’m on my own? Better to play it safe.

I decide on a rather Complicated Bowl of soup – Japanese miso soup with noodles and prawns – that will keep me focused on the prep and cooking, and not on my sorry self.

I spend hours on that bowl of soup. I Peel prawns, Crush their heads and cook a prawn-head stock to flavor the broth. Then I cook up some carrots, lotus roots and edamame, slice the kamaboko fish cake, chop spring onions, and even – eventually – find the sesame seeds in the cupboard. I’m actually too busy cooking my dinner to do more than wave Goodbye to my wife with the tea towel as she leaves.


Finally, I pour a glass of wine – and light a candle. There’s one sticking point, and that’s using a cloth napkin. Why bother? It’s only me. Not worth the laundry. Out comes the paper towel.

Cooking well for yourself is Harder than cooking for someone else because there’s one thing missing – Apart from the other person, that is. It’s the acknowledgment, the look on their face when they first taste what you’ve made. Their appreciative noises are like extra-special secret seasons that make the food taste better.

The experience gives me a tiny glimpse through the lace curtains into the home of someone who is on their own every night. Respect to anyone who thinks about, plans, shops for and carefully prepares a meal for themselves. Even more if they use a cloth napkin.

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