"The sweetest love." It is a phrase from a story on NPR, emailed to me by Kerry from Lowell, MA. (Thanks, Kerry!) What popped into your mind first when you read that?

I bet it wasn't this, the actual paragraph written by Nicole Spiridakis, in which the quote appears:

The things we do for love: I've cooked eggplant for a boyfriend even though I hate it, experimented in vegan baking for Dad, banished my adored beets from salads because Mom can't stand them. But maybe the sweetest - and most surprising - love is discovering what a pleasure it can be to cook just for oneself.

The title of the article was, "Cooking for One: A Privilege, Not a Chore." It is a wonderful article, and I've actually printed some of the recipes for future love-fests. What grabbed me about the article, though, wasn't just the content but the attitude. Too often, supposedly pro-singles stories sound pleading or defensive. You know the kind - "It's OK to be single - really, it is." Not so, this story. So read and savor this sensuous celebration of cooking for yourself.

The NPR story, by the way, mentions several books about cooking for one. Let me add one more here: Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. Along with recipes, it includes quirky and fun stories from the likes of people such as Nora Ephron and Ann Patchett, M. F. K. Fisher and Marcelle Hazan; from fellow blogger Anneli Rufus and guest blogger here at Living Single, Laura Dave.

The Joy of Dining with Strangers

"The joy of dining with strangers" was the title of a headline that appeared recently on the home page of the Washington Post. I thought the article would be the perfect complement to the preceding story. If you don't want to stay home and cook for yourself, why not go out and perhaps find a place at a community table? Or, I figured, maybe the article was about the fun people you meet when you travel solo and break bread with new people.

Clicking through, I discovered that's not what the article was about at all. Instead, the actual story title was "Let a stranger divide a couple." This column by Sally Quinn started like this:

In the week since we opened the e-mail inbox for this column (see below), two women wrote that they would be inclined not to accept an invitation to a dinner if they thought they would not be seated next to their husbands.

The fact is that, in Washington, couples are almost never seated together. I was surprised to see that at the White House state dinner last week for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that some couples were seated together including Colin and Alma Powell and David Geffen and his partner Jeremy Lingvall. The Obamas, however, sat at different tables as did the prime minister and his wife, Gursharan Kaur. So the question this week is: Should couples be seated together at dinner?

My answer is emphatically no. Here's why: The whole point of going out to dinner is to meet people, make new friends, see old friends, learn something, make connections and share something of yourself with others, not to mention having fun.

Read the whole thing here if you like. And kudos to Quinn for ending on this note:

I have to say I felt a bit sad for the two women who wouldn't attend a dinner if they knew they weren't to be seated next to their husbands. It's too bad; they need to get over it. They don't know what they're missing.

If you like the theme of this post so far, you may also enjoy revisiting an item from a previous post, about a New York Times story about "a lovely date" - with a book, alone in a restaurant.

Three More Things

1. My post on the film about the "crazy cat ladies" generated lots of passionate discussion. Wendy Braitman came up with the great idea of posing some questions directly to the creative team that produced the film, and happily, they agreed to answer them. You can find the Q & A over at First Person Singular.

2. The Sloan Work and Family Research Network now features a section on single workers. The network describes itself as "the premier online destination for information about work and family. The Network targets the information needs of academics and researchers, workplace practitioners, state public policy makers, and interested individuals." If you have suggestions for additions or changes, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

3. You may have noticed that the number of PT bloggers keeps growing and growing. That means that posts do not stay on the home page very long any more. To keep up with the Living Single blog, you can subscribe via RSS or just check here regularly.

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