It wasn’t until recently that I found myself eating dinner alone more frequently. In the beginning, I mostly ate whatever I could find in the house and called it a night. After awhile, this ritual became a bit dull, and so little by little, I began making my solo meals increasingly more interesting and exciting. I found the process to be incredibly satisfying and therapeutic. I now look forward to nights where I can cook for myself. The following is something of a starter guide to get you going.
Go shopping at a small market.
I have a few different markets that I frequent, but my favorite stores are the smallest in size. It’s always nice to see the familiar faces of the employees and regular customers, and it’s more relaxed than going to a huge supermarket where I have a 50% chance of getting run over in the parking lot. A smaller store will also mean less produce to choose from which will help you to pick out your ingredients without feeling overwhelmed. Try to arrive at the market without a recipe in mind. It’s good practice to get inspired by the food around you.
Set the mood.
Now that you’re back at the house, do whatever you have to do to get comfortable. Maybe that means boxer shorts and a t-shirt, or maybe it means high heels and a mini skirt…there are no rules here. Once dressed for your date with yourself, put on a great album or playlist. The music playing through the speakers will help you to get into a rhythm in the kitchen.
This is a great time to get some serious aromatherapy in. Add your favorite herbs and spices to your food and sniff the heck out of it. Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years to aid medicinally in emotional and physical health. The fragrances will remind you to take deep, fulfilling breaths, which a lot of us often forget to do. Focusing on your breath returns you to the present moment and helps you to connect with yourself. Get your prana on.
Nurture your brain with creative time.
Luckily, it is becoming more and more popular to emphasize the importance of creative activities for the health of the brain. Why? Creativity likes to be exercised so that it can grow stronger. Engaging in hands on artistic pursuits will activate the creative networks in your noggin. The more you turn these networks on, the more they will turn themselves on naturally in your every day life.
Increase your skills as a cook.
My best dishes are usually concocted when no one is around to try them. There’s something about not having anyone to please nearby that makes me feel freer in the kitchen. This sense of liberation always inspires me to take more risks with food which usually ends up paying off. Admittedly, sometimes it doesn’t. Embracing uncertainty is key.
Make it a habit and write it down.
Did you make a masterpiece? Would Mario Batali himself drop to his knees in agonizing delight after tasting what you just prepared? Maybe adapt the process of keeping a recipe book for nights like these. Don’t worry about recording measurements because it takes away from the “flow state” that we’re trying to ease into. Have a go at keeping the book closed until you’ve finished eating. When you’re done with the dishes, open the book, and record the ingredients that you used and a few reminders of your process. Keep it easy breezy, lemon squeezy.
Wait, ugh, did you say dishes?
And with that, I’ll leave you to ruminate on the words of the famous Buddhist author and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh:
“If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have a cup of tea, I will be equally incapable of drinking the tea joyfully. With the cup in my hands I will be thinking about what to do next, and the fragrance and the flavor of the tea, together with the pleasure of drinking it, will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment.”
For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.
- Charles Bukowski
Risen Christ by Titian, circa 1511
A newly discovered early work by the great Venetian master
The Estate Svart made by Stutterheim Raincoats (Sweden). The car cover is made in collaboration with Volvo’s design team and features hand-stitched seams on a rubberized cotton fabric.
Women of the IRA, Alex Bowle, Northern Ireland, 1977