What does it mean when we eat out alone? Does it feel okay if we're travelling out of town but much less comfortable doing it on our own turf? Does it imply that we have no mates to be spotted eating solo in a town where all our friends and family live? Is it too awkward an exercise when all around us are happy couples and groups nervously trying not to stare at she who dines alone? Does it require more courage to eat out of an evening, sans company, than it does to have lunch on your own? Well, recently, I've discovered that no, it doesn't.
By choice I've been dining alone a lot of late and I like it very much. It's peaceful and considered and I can focus on the food. I don't have to pretend to listen and care when really I'm more interested in savouring each mouthful and searching my brain for an elusive flavour that may be tugging at my senses.
The reverse is true, too; how nice it is to wolf down dinner, paying little attention to it, if that's what suits, other than to know that dinner is done, taken care of, sorted. No analysing required.
What's more, more of our restaurants are getting it right and they don't bat an eye when you saunter in, solo.
Some of the best places offer bar or counter seating, which is perfect on so many levels; you can watch the team in the kitchen go about their craft, which, for me at least, is endlessly fascinating; the bar person is usually happy enough to banter a bit if you need them to; you have your back to the room so any "sympathy stares" become null and void. It's bliss.
Don't get me wrong, I still love to eat out with folk and enjoy the conviviality of it all but, once in a while, it makes a welcome change to fly solo. It's my new favourite thing and it beats meditation.
• Have you tried dining alone? And would you do it again?