On Dining Alone

Fuchsia Dunlop in the weekend FT nails it:

Dining alone in restaurants, like other solitary activities, is a matter of perception. If you feel guilty about it and think you shouldn’t be doing it, it’s dreadful. On the other hand, if you can enjoy it as one of the diverting side dishes to the great shared feast of life, it can be delicious. Dining in company isn’t always an unalloyed pleasure, anyway. If your companion is dull or irritating, or the chemistry of conversation absent, you might as well be alone. And if you are simply too tired to offer another person your full attention, a little solitary sustenance can be just the thing.

I'm an experienced solo diner. If the setting is right (ie, you don't feel self-conscious), then a casual meal with a magazine can be quite relaxing.

During solo portions of my travel abroad, I became well accustomed to wandering the streets of a random city and settling down to eat. One of my favorite memories is in Rome, my last night there. The heat all week had been oppressive and the lack of traffic laws raised my blood pressure significantly any time I tried to cross a street. (Here's my funny travel blog post on crossing a Roman street.) Tired but happy to be alive, I walked to a local restaurant, sat down by myself, ordered as much mozzarella cheese as I thought I could eat, and enjoyed watching the Italians at tables next me take hand gesturing to a whole new level.

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