The Kitchen Reader: What We Eat When We Eat Alone

January 31, 2010

January’s book selection for The Kitchen Reader is What We Eat When We Eat Alone, by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin.

Madison, a food writer and cookbook author, and McFarlin, her artist husband, used to travel extensively on culinary trips. During those travels, they started asking people what they cook for themselves when they’re eating alone. The book contains descriptions from people about what they make for themselves – some people are very detailed and others are vague. And there are many mentions of sardines, which really surprised me! I couldn’t tell you the last time I had sardines or thought about having them.

The book’s chapters cover topics such as men’s vs. women’s solo eating habits, people who eat alone most of the time and people who eat alone occasionally. It discusses younger people just starting out, older people who are single again, people who are cooks by profession and those who don’t cook much at all. These aren’t the kind of dishes that have recipes, but the authors created recipes for them – there are 100 recipes in the book, all of them simple, such as an omelet with crunchy buttered breadcrumbs. It’s a quick read and I thought it was fun to take a peek into what other people eat when they’re only trying to please themselves.

The whole time I was reading this book, I was relating it to my personal experiences and trying to remember what I cooked and ate when I was first out on my own, and then through other longer- and shorter-term phases of eating alone…sometimes happy to be alone and sometimes not happy. While I can’t remember all of the details of what I ate during the different periods, I know that my solo eating preferences changed along with the phases of my life. Right now, the most likely thing that I will eat if I’m eating alone is a baked potato and broccoli, with LOTS of broccoli. They’re two of my favorite foods and I’m thrilled to make a dinner out of them. I’ve also been known to spread peanut butter on marshmallows for dessert, but only if no one is there to see me do it!

Take a look at what the other Kitchen Reader members have to say about this book!


  1. I really liked this book-I especially loved the illustrations and the things I found out about myself along the way.

    I love that you included a bit of yourself in this review-when we’ve been married for awhile, it’s often hard to remember specifics about those single days. And I would happily eat peanut butter on marshmallows-that sounds delightful!!!!!

  2. Mmmmm, love baked potatoes with broccoli! In a similar vein, I used to make a meal out of a can of green beans.

  3. LOL – broccoli is a super food, so it’s great that you love it. (And peanut butter has peanuts – plenty of essenital oils ;).) A good review of this book.

  4. I eat curry when I am alone. I am the only one who likes it. But a baked potato often hits the spot.

    Nicely written review. Different but interesting book.

  5. I’ll have to see if my library has this book, it sounds interesting. I really do eat differently than I did when I was single, a lot more actual meals. Yum to peanut butter and marshmallows, sounds like a good dessert to me.

  6. It was fun to read about all the various ‘alone foods’ people will eat. I got quite a few ideas from the book.
    I love a good Frito pie, by the way!

  7. I think this looks really interesting. I like to see what foods other people truly love. I eat alone all the time and it’s almost always cereal or yogurt.

  8. That sounds like a really interesting book! You made me laugh when you said you spread peanut butter on marshmallows – that sounds really good!

  9. I’ve been wanting to read this book!

  10. I’ve seen this on other blogs… and now I have to get a copy. How interesting! I eat heads of romaine and red leaf lettuce like they were going out of style (not sure if that’s the correct phrase)… strange.. very strange… nice post Jill!

  11. broccoli and potatoes- so healthy! I’ve been known to eat a spoonful of peanut butter on its own.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: