Eating alone

There’s a scene in the film Amelie where Audrey Tatou makes dinner. It’s pretty much an all white dinner (the film uses colour in a very thematic way), pasta with parmesan grated over the top.

But what made the scene memorable for me is the way she treats eating alone. She lays the table, makes a meal from real ingredients, and sits down at the table to eat it. There’s no sitting on the couch in front of the TV or eating over the sink straight out of the fridge. Of course, it’s French, so there’s that whole respect for food thing to begin with, but it’s the respect for herself that I like so much.

Oddly, I always sit at the table to eat breakfast, and I even have a placemat and lay it all out nicely with my bowl of porridge and my cup of tea. I sit down to eat. By the time lunch comes around I’ve fallen into bad habits and usually eat a sandwich at my desk, which is about the worst habit I could be in. Dinner is usually on the couch in front of the TV.

Growing up we always ate as a family at the table. Breakfast was laid out the night before, and the table was properly set. Dinner was always eaten while sitting at the table — we didn’t have a TV.

I like the ritual of eating at the table. It feels much more adult. But primarily, it feels like I’m properly taking care of myself. Apparently, eating while doing something else like watching TV results in eating more: not paying attention makes it so much easier to eat mindlessly. Sitting at the table creates a ritual and makes an event out of eating. It’s not just shoving fuel in.

I suspect it’s a bit of art, learning to eat alone well. I’m not an artist yet.

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