Separate Two Eggs is my new, very occasional, series about a lonely single woman eating sad meals alone. Or not. It’s really just a way to continue to queer food writing and add diversity to the Mommy-blogging and monogamous couple-oriented fare (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Inspired by Judith Jones, editrix extraordinaire of some of the best American food writers, a widow who continued cooking elegantly for herself after the death of her husband, I think I’m going to start writing about cooking for one, and call the series “Separate Two Eggs.” It won’t be elegant, I assure you, but instead I promise never to let a dog lick a single plate in my house (Ms. Jones, really?). So let’s see how many ideas I can devise.
The problem is I don’t really like cooking for myself. I never got the hang of it. I cook meals for 4 or 6, figuring on guests or leftovers. There aren’t often leftovers, but there have always been plenty of guests, so it served me well. Not having kids and living in a place with decent-enough dining out options gave me the strength: no one ever killed dinner for me. But then, when my husband started to diet, I had to learn how to cook alone, and I got used to cooking for 3, then 2, and maybe, on a good night, 1.5. Tiptoeing around the food restriction du jour filled me with despair and I finally just mostly gave up on the daily dinner slog. Instead, I ate out or made big pots of things I liked and froze them, or just ate popcorn for dinner.
Now I have to rethink things, because the frozen prepared food won’t last me forever and I suppose I should relearn how to amuse myself at dinnertime, forging more boldly across the bloody dinner battlefields of our Puritan land. When I’m alone and have nothing scheduled, I work all afternoon and well into the night. I’m finding more and more I can multitask less and less, so with the blessed and rare (and surely transitory?) life I’ve been suddenly given — no children, no husband, no pets, no conferences, no research trips, no immediate deadlines, no events, no classes — if I don’t think about feeding myself I will spend hours concentrating on writing. So it’s got to be quick or half-prepped in the refrigerator or utterly fascinating.
And nothing healthy will do, given there’s nothing more depressing than eating a salad when one interrupts one’s work with a glass of wine. Popcorn is the food of the lonely, and quite frankly, as much as I loved that man and still consider him one of my closest friends, I’m less lonely at home than I have been for a long time. I know you hear me. I’m never that hungry at night, and certainly not at the unfathomable Eugene dinner hour, so I find a snack is much more palatable than anything else in the evening. Finally, throw off the remaining chains of dinner!
Imperative now, intrepid voyager, is to amuse your bouche. So what’s a girl to do? Party.
Party Mix for One
Serve with a glass of lively rosé or cava. Or two. Or all of the above.
The general idea is to mix the five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, savory. The overriding principle is crunch. Use a tiny bowl; don’t be a piggy. I suppose you could subsitute an aged gouda for the cured meat, but don’t use both so you don’t offend god.
- 2 tablespoons tiny organic corn nuts (I have no idea what these are called without the trade name, sorry, but you can buy them in bulk at organicky markets)
- 1 tablespoon chilled diced cured coppa or other dried sausage
- 1 tablespoon dried cherries
- 1 teaspoon Dutch “platte salmiakje” salmiak licorice drops, or substitute something weird like, hmm, fresh coriander buds? Diced sour gummy bears? Fried sage? Chocolate chips? Just nothing moist or stupid. Other than that, I’m not sure. You decide.
Dice everything as small as the corn nuts. Blend. Serve immediately: you’re waiting.