Sunday, 14 November 2010

Lunch With A Difference

We had a lunch party yesterday, where the combined age of the four guests was 335 years.
Is that a record in blogland?

It was not a duty party and I gave it not primarily out of kindness, although that did play a role.
Two of the guests had recently lost their partners, a widow and a widower, and I know that bereaved people like to be provided with a safe place to talk about the person they lost. A simple lunch where the others knew the deceased is just such a place. I was certainly not trying to matchmake.

An interesting point came up. The guests complimented me on the food and in the course of a discussion of TV chefs, recipes and cooking habits, Bob, still one half of a couple, asked:

"Would you cook like this if you were on your own? Do you take pleasure in cooking for its own sake, in cooking for others, or for the pleasure of eating?"

I had to think. I enjoy cooking, it can be a creative outlet. I enjoy eating, I enjoy entertaining; I am also lazy and like to do as little as possible but still make an impression. Beloved and I keep a reasonable table, we eat very little in the way of convenience food and have one home cooked hot meal every day we are at home.

Nobody can say for certain what they will do at a time in the future. My answer was:

"Yes, I would still cook enjoyable meals. I would buy more special things from delicatessens' counters, small quantities of luxury foods, perhaps more ready made meals with fancy ingredients. I believe food is a pleasure, not just fuel, and there is much to be said for treating oneself kindly. I would also hope to be able to open a bottle of wine with my meals, even if it would take me three days to drink it on my own."

The men round the table thought that they would probably not bother to cook much, although all three have cooked meals for themselves and their partners in the past; pub meals were mentioned and beans on toast. Allan said that most men wouldn't know how and would probably be unwilling to learn. Pauline, the widow, said, she certainly cooks herself good meals; any leftovers would be coming in handy another time. Pauline also said, that there is usually a bottle waiting to be finished in her fridge.

Is this really just a straight male/female divide? Is this a generation thing? Do people still cook proper meals or do they make do with TV cookery programmes while  eating  take-away?

I know what I prefer.


  1. Now that The Great Dane is at home and I'm at work we don't eat as well as we once did. If I don't cook a meal ahead of time we'll end up having an omelette and a salad - not a bad supper, but not something I want more than once a week. I'm too tired to start from scratch in the evening, and TGD's solution is to bring home something ready-made from a deli or a frozen lasagna. I cook on the weekend, bake rarely and always have a bottle of wine on the go. If I weren't here I believe that TGD would eat pasta seven days a week.

  2. I am sorry to say that in the years that I was on my own I stood eating in front of the refrigerator with the door open for meals. But I did make it a rule to invite people over once a week for dinner. That way I didn't forget how to cook.

  3. Like you, Friko, I cook a hot meal every day we're at home too. I think there is something so special about sharing a meal even a simple dish with someone else. I hate eating alone when I'm out.

  4. I'm not a good cook, but I've learned to enjoy cooking just for myself. When I had 3 kids running around just wanting fish sticks, it was no fun at all.

  5. oh i like it home made...if i was on my own...i may starve...

  6. I never liked to cook, but I did a lot of it. The only time I enjoyed cooking was when I was trying a new recipe.

    That may explain why I stopped cooking the day I lived alone. If it weren't for lean cuisine and other prepared foods I'd starve to death.

    My ides of cooking is putting a baked potato in the microwave or cooking an artichoke or corn on the cob. I will also break down and cook asparagus in season. I had out of town company recently and had to do a little cooking and discovered that I have almost forgotten how.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I don't remember what I ate when I was healthy and living alone. When I was living alone but not well, cooking was a sometimes thing. It would depend on how I felt.
    When I felt well enough, I loved to invite people over. A chicken is easy to cook and instead of stuffing it, I'd wash it well and put a quartered apple, a quartered onion, some celery and seasonings inside it, with garlic powder on the outside and some mild paprika for coloring.
    When I was young and healthy, my signature dinner party dish was a stock pot full of Shrimp Creole done according to my own recipe. It took hours just cutting up peppers and onions, but I enjoyed it then. I can't even think of such a thing now.

    335 divided by four is 83.75. That's amazing, Friko, but wonderful.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  9. I have always cooked and relied only a little on convenience meals when I worked full-time. I cook because I like to take care of our health, because cooking is creative, because I love food and I am interested in ingredients.

    My father learned to cook, at the age of ninety after the death of my mother and made himself nutritious and tasty meals. He also baked his own bread in a breadmaker.

  10. I would cook
    nothing fancy
    But a meal or two out with friends
    and a glass of wine would be nice too

  11. Fresh, well-prepared food, a bottle of good wine, accompanied by good conversation, good music, or a good book — what else does one need. Alone or with a companion, life should be enjoyed to the fullest.

  12. We cook proper meals when we're both here. When he's away, I have egg and chips three nights running. When I'm away, he cooks himself a proper roast dinner or a steak three nights running.

  13. I would probably do some of each, although if truth be told (once examined in depth) I'm more like those men. Perhaps it is because I am weary of cooking for a houseful?

  14. Hey, Friko. We're both on 199 followers tonight ....

  15. i agree with you, food is a pleasure and to be cherished...haven't had much time for "real" cooking recently though..have a great sunday friko

  16. When Husband's away I still cook every day .... I'm too greedy to do without something substantial . But , when I'm alone , the end result will be soup or stew , couscous or spaghetti . As long as I can eat it with the minimum of fuss while I'm reading .
    When Husband's on his own , he makes and eats Pea soup day in , day out . If I popped my clogs , he certainly wouldn't starve .

  17. I never understood, as a young woman, how much better food tasted if someone else cooked it (my mother's words).

    I cook using 'raw' ingredients daily - sometimes my husband does - it always tastes good. Sometimes better than good. Sometimes ordinary. Sometimes it is a chore.

    I wonder though if we were only sharing a crust and butter together it would be the company that made the meal.

  18. Friko, it seems that once again you have posed a question that has a variety of answers.

    I am with you and Pauline. I love to prepare a meal, even if I might be sitting alone at the table to enjoy that meal. The entire process, from shopping for ingredients, experimenting with new ideas, relying on old reliable recipes, keeping the cooking simple when time is short, getting more involved (even baking!) when more time is available. These are such relaxing, pleasurable moments.

    My cooking definitely changes with the seasons. Summer leads me more in the direction of experimental salads, berries in cream for dessert. As autumn leads to winter, the heat gets turned on. What fun it can be to feed oneself, and even better to share such meals with others.


  19. I cook a hot meal almost every night -- my husband makes pizza from scratch once a week. When I'm alone for more that a few days, I'll definitely cook -- often something my husband doesn't like -- Southern fried chicken gizzards, for example or Bubble and Squeak.

  20. Good question. I've never really lived alone. I cooked for my family but they are long grown and now my husband does the cooking.

  21. Interesting discussion! It's the cleaning afterwards that I'm not too crazy about.

    "I believe food is a pleasure, not just fuel, and there is much to be said for treating oneself kindly." - Wow, that's good! I agree!

  22. Interesting discussion, Friko. I cook from scratch every day - even when I was working full time. I found I had to be much more organized.
    Now that there are just two of us, I still cook every day and enjoy it. When I'm alone because my husband is away on business, I tend to cook simpler things but I still like a hot meal. Soup, cheese, bread perhaps, with the leftovers tucked away in the fridge for another meal.

  23. That top dish looks divine.

    In many ways, I live to eat. When I travel, I research restaurants and am willing to pay good money to eat well. At home, I enjoy cooking, but I'm afraid if I were alone I would not do it much, though home cooked food is by far the best. I am getting lazier as I age. But maybe I should spend more meditative time in the kitchen. There is something very soothing about chopping vegetables, like Griet in "Girl with a Pearl Earring" (the film, opening credits, which is the only part of the movie I remember).

  24. I am quite a greedy person and love eating so needs must, I cook a lot. I grow most of my own veg - and can't imagine not making the effort.

    Now I have a full wine rack and well stocked drinks cabinet but only drink on special occasions - and then in extremely boring moderation.

  25. Husband loves to cook. In our case, he would be the one to cook and serve himself excellent meals. I would eat things I had cooked, but far less healthy and eye-appealing stuff than he.

  26. Friko, I do think I would be exactly like you in my approach to food if I lost my husband. He likes to cook, but he also hates the interruption that cooking takes if he is into some project, so I do not know how he would respond to food and not having me.

  27. Mine would depend on the era I am in, how much time when returning home each day... Right now my roomie does most of the cooking, as I arrive home from work later. Though in times past, when I was home alone for weekends and such, I would shop and prepare special meals. Thus I fear, time and tiredness would be the deciding factor.


  28. i happen to like beans on toast so they probably would feature, with now and again a 'proper' meal - at least i hope thats how it would go

  29. I love to cook main course meals - not so much deserts. But I enjoy sharing the meal, savoring it. A part of me gets upset when I spend hours on a meal and the kids and husband eat it quickly and rush out the door. No disrespect meant, just busy lives. I guess the trick is to have many meals that preparation time is quick. As far as if I lived on my own, I think I would cook smaller meals ... with a mind towards left overs. My husband would live on pasta, tunafish and chips and salsa, I am afraid.

  30. Interesting comments. As for me, I try to cook a hot meal every day although sometimes a busy life gets in the way and we end up ordering in. When my husband used to travel for weeks at a time, I would still cook for myself - usually things that he does not care for. He would live off tinned soup and crackers if he was on his own or splurge on meals out (no fast food joints for my man).

    Of course, a bottle of wine is a must accompaniment no matter was is put on the table.

  31. what do "most men" have to do with us?

    I too love my little treats brought home and savored, and limited comfort-cookinjg I can do here on the boat...

    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral


  32. I think this is my first visit to your blog, I linked in from Magpie Tales. This question about would you cook this way for yourself? is one I've considered too. I think I would but smaller quantities, because there are many things I enjoy eating that I think I make best...would have to invite others in nd or freeze left overs for another time...There are only two of us now, husband and me at home and I still cook and enjoy it. So many do give up cooking when alone though, that must be boring. Nice blog work!

  33. I cook for myself and freeze a lot of the meals (I cook for 4 normally). Highly processed frozen takeout meals are high in salt and HF corn. So not nutritious at all. When I lived in the city I cheated a lot more with food, but now I;m in the middle of the country with no takeout and find it has been a huge gift to my culinary skills.
    I do need to entertain more as I love cooking for company.
    Great post, Friko.

  34. Interesting post - no fast food or frozen cardboard dinners here. I love preparing luncheons for my friends. Fortunately my husband is easy to cook for & is very accepting of my love of salads and all the lettuces we grow...which would probably be my main focus if I were alone. That takes away some of the guilt associated with my love of sweets...


    Hello, How exciting to land on your magical poetry land.
    Hope you well.

    I am inviting you to join us for poetry potluck fun.
    First Time participants are encouraged to link in 1 to 3 random poems to share, old poems are welcome. Hope to see you in.

    I signed in to follow your blog.

    Happy Tuesday!
    You Rock!

  36. I enjoy cooking more now than I did when the kids were home. Perhaps because I don't have the chaos to contend with. Alone? I can only guess.
    Sounds like your friends enjoyed the meal and the conversation!

  37. I really do enjoy cooking but it's almost always for others. If I was on my own, I would probably save the real cooking for company.

  38. Dear Friko,
    If you'd envited me the age would make 415. You're a wonderously delicious cook. I hate to cook. For company I go to the deli, bring home the little cartons and put it in my best china. Good china brings out good compliments.LOL

  39. A big pot of bean soup is bubbling away as I write this comment, enough that I can eat it for at least three days. When I'm alone, I tend to get a bit lazy, but never resort to prepared meals or takeaway. A meal replacement of nacho chips covered in melted old cheddar and salsa is my favourite don't-feel-like-cooking dinner. When MFB and I are together, we share the cooking 50/50 and it's always something substantial. Even when he's alone, he cooks properly - more so than me, probably. My dad used to cook proper meals for himself when he was alone, even though he was blind. No boiled eggs for him, which I always admired.


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