“To eat together can mean building
bridges, even stopping wars ...”
Margot Henderson, Rochelle Canteen
To sit and gather with friends and
family around the table, to eat and
drink together, to nourish and nurture
from the inside and out is one of life’s
true sensorial moments. Whether it’s a
small or large event, an evening feast
or an intimate lunch, it is the sitting
down together that can build bridges,
stop wars even.
The more we know of
people’s cultures the richer people we
are. The French for instance, have been
sharing the beauty of their food with
us for a long time now and we have
learnt that to sit at a crisp table cloth
(although not that many can afford the
cleaning bills these days) is one of the
great arts of past and present!
When a table is full to brimming
with food and wine, and the people
are squeezed in shoulder to shoulder,
the excitement can be giddy beyond
belief. Platters of food to share and
pass around add to the interaction
and joy of the coming together. “Eat
more chickpeas…” I keep saying,
“and maybe we would have more
peace. Chickpeace.” So many dishes
are for sharing; cassoulet, lasagne,
dumplings, paella, Georgian food, the
list goes on.
So, why are there wars with all these
incredible cuisines all over the world,
with women pouring love on to the table
for all to share, to get stuck into?
I say don’t eat alone,
eat together and stop wars!
It’s the same with families, the
more they eat together at the kitchen
table, the closer and the stronger the
bond will be. The happiest groups of
people in the world know to
sit down and share their worlds with
each other. Bonvivre!
Anyonethat knows me, knows that
I love a party and I’m a natural feeder,
so to share with your friends is always a happy
moment. The chaos, the mess, the
table that starts almost slightly stiff
then moves and relaxes, as a little wine
and food start to warm the cockles of
the heart, stomach and mind.
The atmosphere in a restaurant
is heightened by happy eaters,
interacting, chatting, coming together
enjoying each other’s company and
enjoying the food.
“Eating alone means
peace and quiet.
most of us don’t get
that in a normal day...”
Melanie Arnold, Rochelle Canteen
It is such a huge treat to eat alone, of
course we all love to sit at a groaning
table in the middle of family and friends,
but there’s a special feeling to the whole
process of eating by oneself. If I’m at
home on my own I don’t eat, but choosing
a restaurant, completely your own choice,
not compromising at all, I love that.
When I go out on my own I wander around until I
find somewhere that entices me in, whether
it’s the menu or the style of the place. I like
those more old-school restaurants for dining
alone, preferably with lovely white napkins,
but it doesn’t have to be posh. I like oldfashioned
family places, somewhere like
I always take a book or a newspaper,
but a lot of the pleasure is in watching,
watching the world go by if I’ve scored
a window table, watching other guests
(now what’s their story?), watching the
waiters or watching the chefs if it’s a
counter place, all their skill and practice!
You get a lot of special attention if
you eat on your own, I think restaurants like
a solo diner, it means you’re serious about
going to their place. It always makes me feel a
bit like Mrs Robinson.
It’s not really primarily about the food though,
it’s sort of more about immersing oneself
in another world, with time to think and
relax, no need for conversation, just peace
and quiet for oneself. Most of us don’t get
much of that in a normal day. The world
we work in means that we always go to
restaurants with other people, so it’s such
a change to experience them quietly and
slowly. And even in the busiest place there’s
always room for one.
This article was first published in Issue 14 of CODE Quarterly.