A debate on Radio 4’s today programme caught my ears this morning, discussing the experiences of dinner for one (listen again just before 9am).
Twitter flurry ensued!
Y should b forced to stay in if can’t find anyone who wants to see film/have meal 4 fear of what ppl ‘may’ think, if on own? #solodining
— wendy slattery (@indigo_goat) April 7, 2012
— James Sharp (@drumting) April 7, 2012
Now this is a subject I know something about! It’s not that I’ve made some lifestyle choice to pursue a singleton eating out agenda or anything. No, like many people who spend time traveling or working away from home, eating alone quickly becomes a necessity.
And just because it is a necessity, why should eating, one of our daily pleasures, be reduced to a rushed re-fuelling? After all, who wants to live on pre-packed sandwiches or burgers?
I got over that first-time asking for a table for one nerves quite some time ago and have quickly found, budget allowing, that the lone diner tends to get better treatment in posher establishments and that major cities cater much better for women than out-of-the-way.
While there are some places where staff look at the potential three empty seats with unguarded loathing, many go out of their way to be welcoming. Probably the best experience I’ve had to date was in Vienna where I had a remarkable meal, relaxed, attentive service and a general atmosphere of welcome. Looking around it didn’t seem that solo dining was particularly commonplace but that didn’t translate to treating a single customer as an oddity.
Closer to home I’ve also found, ironically, that I’m not alone! In some swanky part of London (Kensington I think) I walked into a French restaurant to find almost every table occupied by a woman on her own, mostly reading a book.
Given a choice, I’d rather have a special meal with someone significant, but in these time-pressured days, surely eating alone will become more and more commonplace – just please don’t add more people to my table.
One’s companionable, three is most definitely a crowd.