Advice for eating well: Eat alone

I started eating alone as soon as I could drive. My teenage home was a turbulent one. Sometimes, I wanted to go to a peaceful place before heading home to what would likely be an evening spent squeezing homework in between the quarrels.

My first spot was my neighborhood Mexican restaurant. I'd order some tacos, or a chimichanga and sit down with my textbooks. My grandparents and I came frequently, so all the staff knew me. It felt like a safe place to eat and work when I was on my own. Better yet, I could walk in and they'd have my drink on the table and know what I wanted to eat. My favorite waiters would sneak me some treats and dogged me relentlessly about getting good grades and going to college. At 16, I was a regular. 

In my adult life, I have continued to dine alone. I enjoy it. Solitary dining a great way to get some peace and quiet. I have a leisurely meal and read a book or journal. I always come with something in hand in the event I want to be anonymous (or as anonymous as a tall woman with a giant afro can be). But, sometimes, I arrived as eager to engage as eat. When I dine alone, the restaurant staff, from the manager right down to the bus-people, diligently touch base throughout my meal. If I love a place well enough to become a familiar face, initially casual conversations can bloom into meaningful relationships. Relationships that yield not only excellent service, since the waitstaff learn my tastes and preferences, but also scintillating conversations with folks who love food as much as I do. I stumbled upon a community of people for which I hadn't even realized I'd been looking. When I'm really lucky, I've gained friends.

Dine alone! Get to know your restaurant peeps. They'll help you learn your own taste and teach you a about food and wine in the mean time. Your palate will thank you. 


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