Saturday, I spent a day in the kitchen, alone, just me and my laptop, belting out music and online TV shows while I mixed dough and pushed pans in the oven. I could tell you I ate a sandwich, a cup of soup, some fruit – that I scrambled eggs, even.
But I’d be lying. In fact, I ate a handful of oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies, followed by some other cookies, chased with hazelnut coffee. All of these were eaten while I stood over the sink or fiddled with ingredients, never while I was seated and certainly not off a plate.
These are the joys of eating alone.
There are different joys, of course, when eating with friends: conversation, for example, which is not to say that speaking cannot happen when one is alone in the kitchen, but just that most speaking is improved with a listener and responses.
Also, eating with someone amplifies the sensual understanding: knowing someone else smells the sweet doughy air, when you pull cinnamon rolls out of the oven, gives you a stronger experience.
You’re not just smelling something; you’re smelling something with someone. They may comment on it, they may not react; it is irrelevant. The communal seeing, smelling, tasting, touching – changes the way you eat. You are no longer just eating. You are eating with someone else.
Eating alone, however, is filled with entirely different pleasures. There is something to be said for learning to be alone, just you and your thoughts and the kitchen, and being comfortable.
Alone, you don’t have to be interesting or smart or funny even. You don’t have to talk, you don’t have to do chop the onions the right way, you don’t have to worry about making a mess. There are no rules but the ones you make for yourself, and those are OK to break.
Alone, you can just be you.
Eventually Saturday (as in, late afternoon) I wanted substance. And having never blow-dried my hair or put on makeup, let alone donned normal clothes, I didn’t want to go out. Thus, this version of lasagna was born: lasagna for one.
Essentially, you cook up some olive oil and onions and garlic in a skillet, then add broken chunks of lasagna noodles, topped by diced tomatoes and sauce. This simmers for a while, softening the pasta and flavoring it with the sauce and oil.
Next comes the cheese – my favorite part – which you scatter on top of everything before covering the pan and removing it from the heat. Enclosed, the skillet will melt the cheese, sending it oozing and bubbling over the tomatoes and noodles, creating a sloppy, saucy medley.
Remove the cover, and voila: lasagna, ready to be eaten. (Between us, over the sink works fine.)
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna has a Masters in Writing through Depaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.