Dear July, two // eating together, eating alone.

Sunday, July 3

Friday was a 'flat dinner' night. It was my turn to cook, so I made us a chicken, mushroom, chickpea, and coconut curry – also known as ‘Whatever I Have in the Cupboard Curry’ – with other things like tomatoes and mango chutney and peppers and ginger and yoghurt thrown in. I made it with rice mixed with coconut and olive oil, lime juice, and toasted almond flakes and – while I was keeping an eye on all the bubbling pots – I sent the girls to fetch some vegetable pakora from the Indian takeaway at the bottom of our street

Pretty tasty. When it was all ready, we put the twinkle lights on and helped ourselves to spoonfuls of it, chatting about graduations and upcoming weddings and the-disaster-that-is-Brexit, and then took turns washing up.

The shared meals in this tiny Glasgow flat – with their feeling of ‘togetherness’ – have been among my favourite things about staying here. Joined by our not-actually-a-flat-mate friend, we each take turns cooking and have eaten some amazing food over the year: shepherd’s pie with cheese on top that’s turned bubbling and golden around the edges; black bean and sweet potato chili; tartiflette (a creamy, cheesy, potato-y French dish with bacon); smoked salmon fish pie with parsley sauce; pesto pasta with smoked sausage and mushrooms; macaroni cheese. In December, we even made a pre-Christmas Christmas dinner. It took about 2 hours longer to prepare than we’d planned (turns out peeling, chopping and par-boiling takes a lot more time than you’d think), and two members of our ‘party’ had the flu so they slept on the sofa while Rachel and I cooked – but in the end, it worked out quite wonderfully and we both felt rather proud of ourselves.

Eating dinner by myself is something I’ve learned to get used to this year – being a single woman living independently, it’s kind of a regular and necessary part of life. And I don't think there's anything wrong with eating alone. It's fine. It can be quite peaceful: taking my time, savouring the flavours, winding down from the day without needing to chit chat between mouthfuls. But – there are days when mealtimes carry with them a very keen sense of absence. There are days where I can’t shift the feeling that there is something just ever so slightly depressing about ‘dinner for one’. I find myself hoping it won't be the reality of my life forever. 

Whatever life will bring, though, I want to be intentional about building in times in the week for eating-together. Because there is a different energy that comes with a meal shared. 'What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me,' Shauna Niequist (author of Bread and Wine: a Love Letter to Life Around the Table) writes, 'is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table. The particular alchemy of celebration and food, of connecting people and serving what I’ve made with my own hands, comes together as more than the sum of their parts...'

Yes. That is it.

Hooray for those sacred moments



  1. I love this series so much <3 It's definitely a struggle to eat well when having dinner for one, but I make sure to eat with other people as much as possible too. I can't wait to get back to my parents house for summer and get some home made food inside me.

    1. Thanks, Eline. And yes - trips back home are kind of my favourite. My Mum always made a big deal (in a nice way) about us eating together, so I get homesick for that quite a lot of the time.

  2. Jacob Bennett-Woolf3 July 2016 at 15:29

    I'm glad to see new posts appearing again, I have often wanted to ask you whether there would be any soon (What happened to...), however there was always the fear that it would add stress and make you write not for your own enjoyment, but because you felt that you had too.

    1. Yes, I took an unplanned hiatus it seems! Good to back to it.


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