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Coming Back to Eating

Phyllis Diller charmingly said “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.”

I say "Never go to bed hungry. Stay up and cook."

 
There is nothing like being able to make your own meal and knowing how to enjoy it yourself. Note that I'm not advocating that we avoid company, but instead saying that if you can enjoy eating a self-made meal, then you surely will be able to savour it better together with others. I often hear the comment "It's hard to cook for 1 person", thus leading to quick solutions like buying takeaways, surviving on snacks and even skipping meals. Another common sentiment is "I'd rather die than be caught eating alone in a restaurant" and finally "I eat because I have to, it's not so important". 
I have nothing against any of these beliefs and totally respect that our brains all work differently. That said, let's take each of these statements and focus on the positives:
 
"It's hard to cook for 1 person"
Positives of cooking for 1: 
- You get to decide what you want to eat and how it's to be done
- Your meal waits for no one, you eat when it's ready and when you want it
- You aim only to please your tummy and if it wasn't tasty, no awkward silences
- Less washing up to do, enough said
 
"I'd rather die than be caught eating alone in a restaurant"
Positives of eating alone: 
- You, yes you, get to choose the restaurant and cuisine
- Easy to get a seat for 1 and service is often great since they know your table will turnover quick
- Ability to savour each bite of the dish, no need to be polite and chat in between as your food goes cold
- You get to observe all the people around you, like a play you're watching (beats reality TV hands down)
 
"I eat because I have to, it's not so important"
Positives of enjoying eating: 
- Being more conscious on what you're feeding yourself to make the best choices for your body
- The enjoyment enhances the nourishment you get from the food and the experience of eating
- You'll have something to look forward to 3 times a day - how's that for a bonus!
- Option to expand the interest to the whole experience of growing, buying, cooking, decorating, entertaining, eating and (gasp!) cleaning up
 
This last point leads me back to "Never go to bed hungry. Stay up and cook." There's something therapeutic about cooking that calms me. It's not just the end product that fascinates me, but the whole process which I'll share some of my habits below:
 
Growing: Focus on herbs and veg are used often - sweet basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, chillis, green onion, mint, arugula and spinach 
Buying: Organic and local produce when possible which means fruits in season, good cuts of meat and fish, as little preserved/canned ingredients as possible. No new sauces or spice bottles allowed until the existing ones are empty (this is hard to follow)
Cooking: Gauging the mood and what the tastebuds say, then creatively combining fresh ingredients; sometimes following recipes very loosely (but always having the option to blame the recipe book if it goes wrong). Organizing well in advance to prepare and clean as I go along since for me, a messy kitchen doesn't inspire creative cooking
Decorating: Not just the dishes themselves, but have fun laying out the table with colourful napkins, dancing candles, drinks that complement the food and playing the music to match the ambiance
Entertaining: Do everything that can be prepared in advance, so that attention can be spent on others if you have company. If not, also make sure you treat yourself royally and use that matching cutlery set 
Eating: Taking time to enjoy the food, chewing well and being aware of the taste of each ingredient, as well as the flavour combinations
Cleaning Up: For those of us without domestic help, make the cleaning part of the experience. Put your favourite music on and it doesn't have to be a chore.
 
Eating is the one activity we do 3 times a day; it's worth learning how to enjoy it!
 

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest.
I do not judge the universe.

- Dalai Lama