Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Don't hesitate to cook something delicious for yourself

Nigella treats herself

Whether you live alone, your husband or wife is away, or your roommates are out of town, all of us have those nights where we want to eat something super delicious, and we're all alone. And you know what? Too many people use being alone as an excuse not to make something super delicious for themselves. I understand being too tired to cook for yourself on some nights, or wanting to curl up on the couch with some Indian takeout and a full TiVo. But one thing that I often hear from people is wanting something fancy and fussy, but "I don't want to go to all of that fuss just for myself" or that it's not worth the hassle to shop and cook just for yourself. And to that I say, don't say that! You are completely worth a great lasagna, a slow roasted prime rib, or a fantastic chocolate cake. Don't think that there's something wrong about cooking something fantastic for yourself, because you could not be more wrong.

First of all, cooking for just you is a chance to experiment. That wacky recipe with that ingredient that you'd never heard of? The cheese souffle that everyone says is easy but you just know you'll make it fall? The lemon curd that you want to try but you just know will turn into scrambled eggs? Make it for yourself! The worst that can happen is that it doesn't turn out well and you end up eating canned tuna for dinner, and no one has to know about the failure. But if it turns out great, then you have a fantastic new thing in your repertoire, and the confidence to know that you can make it again and again.

Secondly, cooking for yourself is a time when you can eat anything that you like, without paying attention to someone else's preferences or food issues. You love stinky cheese? Indulge with it stirred into a risotto. You adore the salty, briny flavor of anchovies? Add them to a fantastic pasta. You've always wanted to try that chicken with 40 cloves of garlic? Now is the time to do it. I have a friend who rushes to the kitchen to cook and eat a whole crab for herself as soon as her allergic to seafood husband goes out of town, and another who makes spaghetti carbonara when his non pork eating wife is working late. It's fun for food to be just for you sometimes.

And, hey, cooking for yourself is kind of like masturbation: sometimes you just need to please yourself. Sure, sometimes you wish you could share it with someone when it's fantastic, but then again, sometimes you don't want to have to think of someone else's needs, just your own. Hey, we all have needs, it's better to just be upfront about it. Those molten chocolate cakes are sometimes even better when eat them all just for you, and can ooh and ahh to your heart's content.

If you're in need of a cooking just for you primer, the woman who discovered Julia Child recently wrote a book all about that, so you're in excellent company, and there's a fun food column in the Washington Post all about cooking for one.

So the next time that you look at that recipe for crab risotto and think that it's not worth it to do all of that stirring just for yourself, just stop, think about how pleasing yourself is just as important as pleasing other people, and get to cooking.


  1. I totes agree with this! Esp about the not having to worry about fussy eaters, like your kids, who don't like the things you think are delicious.

  2. I completely agree. Cooking for myself is one of my favorite things about living alone. I love to cook for my friends and family as well, but it's so liberating to be able to cook exactly what I want without worrying about everyone else's tastes. If I want to eat a bowl of chopped tomatoes for dinner, followed by a bowl of cereal for dessert, I can do that! Butternut squash five times in one week? Not a problem! It's fabulous.

  3. This is one of the things I am most looking forward to in my newly-single life. Perfect timing. Thank you.

  4. Yes, escaping those picky eaters is one of the best things about cooking for yourself. I added a few fun resources for cooking for yourself, let me know if you know more!