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Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  3,448 ratings  ·  460 reviews
A delightful and unexpected collection of pieces by writers, foodies, and others-including Nora Ephron, Marcella Hazan, and Ann Patchett-on the distinctive experiences of cooking for one and dining alone.

If, sooner or later, we all face the prospect of eating alone, then Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant provides the perfect set of instructions. In this unique collec
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Hardcover, 260 pages
Published July 19th 2007 by Riverhead Hardcover
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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N.
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is certainly true that cooking is therapeutic, creative, and all those other faintly creepy self-helpish words. I would love to tell you that learning to cook was part of my journey toward actualization. I would love to tell Oprah this. I would love to tell Oprah this while weeping. But I learned to cook for a much simpler reason: in the abject hope that people would spend time with me if I put good things in their mouths. It is, in other words (like practically everything else I do), a fu
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Emily
Nov 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
To me, this book is less about cooking-for-one and much more about our extraverted culture's complicated relationship with solitude. Most writers either attach a number of shoulds and should-nots to one's behavior when alone (i.e. the "Not cooking well for yourself shows low self-esteem" crowd); scoff at the aforementioned group (the "Cooking sux, I ate cheetos for dinner and I liked" it crowd); or point out that cooking is really a performance art (the "It's not fulfilling to cook just for me" ...more
Marissa
May 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who love eggplants and cooking and also Jenni Ferrari-Adler
This is a really wonderful collection--every essay brings something new to the table, and it made my daily commute SO freaking enjoyable. One day I missed my stop and ended up in the Bronx because I was having so much fun.
Nancy Martira
May 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Nancy by: KJ Grow
I am a person who eats dinner alone most nights, an arrangement that suits me just fine. So I spent a lot of time scratching my head at these self-pitying, histrionic essays. Here is the gist of every essay in the book:

One time, in graduate school, I lived apart from my boyfriend for eight months, and I was so lonely and it was so awful. I mostly didn't eat, but then when I did, I ate celery dipped in Marshmallow Fluff. Now we're married, and everything is great but he has no idea I still hide a
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Julie Davis
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
"A potato," I told my brother, when he asked what I'd eaten for dinner. "Boiled, cubed, sauteed with olive oil, sea salt, and balsamic vinegar."

"That's it?" he asked. He was one to talk. He'd enjoyed what he called "bachelor's taco night" for three dinners and counting.

"A red cabbage, steamed with hot sauce and soy sauce," I said the following night.

"Do you need some money?" he asked.

But it wasn't that, or it wasn't only that. I liked to think of myself not as a student on a budget, but rat
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Mir
Sep 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: foodies
Shelves: non-fiction, culinary
This collection was greater than the sum of its parts: I didn't like most of the essays all that much, but as a topical study it was fascinating. I had no idea that eating/cooking alone was such a fraught subject for so many people. It was a bit sad how many women felt guilty about being alone, or that they didn't deserve to eat good things.
Jeanette (Again)
Good, easy reading. All of the pieces are nicely written by experienced writers. Each piece gives a personal perspective on eating/cooking/dining out alone. Some of the people love it, some hate it. Some cook for themselves, some don't bother if they're alone.

I happen to love cooking and eating alone, and I couldn't understand the unhappiness some of these people expressed at their aloneness with food. When I'm cooking only for me, I can fix it exactly the way I like it(spicy!!), and focus on my
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MB (What she read)
Entertaining essays. Enjoyable, although somewhat pretentious. And what a gorgeous cover! No recipes seemed worth trying though.

My question is why all the angst about eating alone??? I would have liked to see a few more positive & celebratory selections. I enjoy eating alone both in my own home and in restaurants. (Of course I don't live in New York or live that lifestyle, so that may be why I didn't fully mesh with this book.)

I enjoy cooking for a crowd and having my house full of friends and f
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Jim
Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who cook, people who eat
What do you do when the fridge is full but there's no one but yourself to cook for? "Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant" explores this tantalizing question in 26 sharply written essays penned by food critics and couch potatoes alike. But what makes this book so arresting is not its rigorous examination of ratatouille recipes, but the clever way it arrives at the issue of how people deal with being alone.

The solitary cooks presented in this anthology fall into two categories: the starving stud
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Brandy
Sometimes I think I'm in the minority with how comfortable I am eating alone, be it at home or in restaurants. But if the authors collected here are in fact a representative sample, I'm not alone--not even close. The essays here range from memories of the first restaurant meal taken solo to the joys of eating crackers over the kitchen sink, and as an anthology, it holds together surprisingly well. There's only one essay in here that I'd consider a dud, and that's mostly because it's written in t ...more
Michelle
Mar 27, 2013 rated it liked it
If you are like me and find cooking shows relaxing and comforting and enjoy books about the joys of food and eating, this is definitely one to add to your roster. I was intrigued by the title and concept because I spent nearly 5 years living on my own in a studio apartment and was always baffled by the lack of cookbooks devoted to solo eating. Trying to cook for myself was always a pleasure, but adapting a recipe intended for four people down to just moi usually garnered mixed results (as a side ...more
Cat
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book brought back happy (and strange) memories of eating soy burgers for lunch basically every single day of my last two years of grad school (soy burgers with no accompaniments or affectations! no bun or condiments -- just soy burgers) and then concocting these melanges of veggies and beans, some of them thick stews that no one but me would like, out of my weekly deliveries from an organic grocery service. I loved cooking and eating alone. I almost never used a recipe, while now with an au ...more
Lani
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: foodies
Recommended to Lani by: jill
Shelves: non-fiction, borrowed
This was an odd one, but Jill has yet to recommend anything BAD that I can recall. I learned from this book that I am adamantly NOT a foodie, that I remain a picky eater, that I am hopelessly uncultured, and that I will always be kinda white trashy.

The introduction for this book had me expecting something quite different from what it turned out to be, and I'm not sure if that was a dissapointment or not... I've spent a pretty significant amount of time cooking alone in tiny kitchens, or for some
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Kerry
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I loved this compilation of tales and confessions about what various people eat, prepare, and think about eating and cooking alone. It is almost like reading diary entries with authors divulging their food secrets. What do you eat when no one else is around? Do you relish dining alone or dread it? If you are too shy to reveal your culinary indulgences, you can just read about someone else's pantry pursuits.

Whether it is the hilarious account of Spargelfrau and the asparagus diet or the honest ad
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Sarah
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes food, and has ever been single
This is my first (memorable) foray into a collection of essays (or whatever you'd call these extended anecdotes), and it was stellar. I'm going to buy this book. Each piece captures a unique personality and perspective, but they all inspire me to revel in my one-person dinners. I'll keep this around to give me sensory (sensual?) inspiration, and to beat back any loneliness I feel at making dinner for one.
Carlie
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Carlie by: library new release!
a very interesting compilation of essays on eating alone. a ton of great authors, writers and other (in)famous literary figures. many interesting perspectives on food, the social culture lost in eating alone, and the personal psychology behind cooking for one. i enjoyed reading the recipes, though i only copied 3 of them before returning the book. this is just the sort of book i enjoy reading, though i recognize that it wouldn't be for just anyone!
Jesse
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like food and eat alone occasionally.
So this book is great. It's about what we eat when we're alone - everything from saltines to elaborate meals cooked up for oneself to dining alone in a fine restaurant - but it's also about the experience and importance of being alone, something i daresay i am just discovering. i recommend it.
Marck Rimorin
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great set of essays from some great writers and culinary figures about our relationship with food, against our encounter with solitude. Definitely a should-read.
Alicia
I'm hitting some kind of book jackpot, hitting some kind of stride with my choices because I have all the choice in my reading right now with an absence of sitting on a committee. And this one. Yes. I saw it on some recommended list because it's an older title (from 2007) and I don't regret one single page. I actually didn't realize it was a collection of essays/short stories, I thought it was one giant book, so I was pleasantly surprised right from the start.

Because I don't read as many adult
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Niamh
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This essay collection is a treasure trove of ideas and thoughts. Some are sweet, some are intimate, some are pretentious, some abruptly finish without any notice. But like any good meal, each essay gives a different flavour and texture.

‘Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant’ catapults you between bubbles of the world- eating Thai noodles in New York, curling up with a bowl of mashed potatoes on a bad day, cooking Salsa Rosa in Italy, making a stoner’s burrito or cooking a fish dish that only yo
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Margo
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bios-memoirs
Some five star stories, handful of one star stories, and the rest floating somewhere in the middle. Overall, highly enjoyable! Though... I doubt some of these people are completely honest about some of their healthier solo eating choices....
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-17
Like any collection of short essays, this had its hits and its misses. But I don't remember jumping up from any single one to rush to the computer and see what else that writer had written. I need to leaf back through and check....

The only authors I liked enough to consider checking out were Phoebe Nobles--who isn't an author so I guess she's a foodie--and Holly Hughes, who writes for Frommer's and does food writing anthologies.

So that's what I thought. It was amusing enough to keep me reading,
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Schmacko
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Think of your last three days’ meals. How many of these had another person present?

If you’re like me, half the time, you ate alone – probably quickly. Yet, much of food writing is about groups of people – families, parties, cultural or socio-political aggregations. We can read about food that is American, or food that is inspired by the Depression, or food in the Presbyterian tradition; this is all about food meant to be eaten by more than one person at a time. It’s cuisine as sociology lesson.

I
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Deb
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: foodies, people who eat weird things while alone
Shelves: non-fiction, cooking
I love this book. It's a collection of essays from various authors that, so far, revolve around eating on your own/cooking for yourself.

Already they've mentioned the Everychild Mexican Stand-off: this happens when a kid refuses to eat something and is forced to sit alone at the dinner table for hours until a) they eat it, b) the parents give up in disgust or c) the paddling begins. I'm quite familiar with each of these steps, since about age 7 when I declared 3/4 of common foods to be "gross."(I
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Adrienne
So I bought this book in 2009 during one of my fits of "OMG I am going to be alone forever, and I'm going to eat by myself forever and my life will suck". I mean, okay, sometimes I still indulge in the wallowing (only occasionally), but I digress. I bought the book, put it on my bookshelf, and never looked at it again. As is the case with most of the books I buy.
So finally, it is 2012, and having finished Julia Child's excellent "My Life in France", I decide it's time to give this one a go.
And y
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Lara
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: food lovers/essay lovers
Shelves: mustread
You can't get better than the title "Alone in the Kitchen with an eggplant" and you really can't get much better with us wrote essays for this book: Dan Chanon, Nora Ephron, Ann Patchett, Beverly Lowry......
If you've ever had to travel frequent and eat alone or your living single this is a fantastic book about cooking for one-- or trying to.
Interesting escapades on first time cooks to even some great receipes.
Please check out the essay entitled: Wild Chili-- it's fantastic. That's saying alot
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Debra Hale-Shelton
This excellent collection of essays about eating, dining and cooking alone made me downright hungry. But more importantly, it reminded me of my more than 45 years spent single -- most of them eating, dining and cooking alone. So, it's no wonder that today -- with a husband and 8-year-old daughter living with me -- I often yearn for the days of propping up in bed with a plate -- or more likely a bowl -- of spaghetti aglio, crusty buttered bread and a salad with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar ...more
Christine
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
A collection of 26 essays (and at least one short story–Murakami’s wonderful “The Year of Spaghetti”) about cooking and/or dining solo. I found myself getting incredibly lonely reading these stories one after another. Plus it did get repetitive–it’s remarkable how many common threads there are to dining alone. All these writers, men, women, living in different geological areas, from different cultures, overcame the same feelings, the same resistance, and felt the same unsteady victory of dining ...more
Julie
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
This rather uneven collection of essays addresses the act of cooking and eating alone. About halfway through I began to suffer from déjà vu; there are only so many ways to address the issue of food for one, apparently. Nevertheless, there are some essays that make this worth reading. Phoebe Nobles’ “Asparagus Superhero” was my favorite, about the joy and then the burden of trying to eat asparagus every day during its season. Ben Karlin, a cocreator of The Colbert Report, writes hilariously about ...more
Jaspreet
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This morning I did not make it to my exercise class; however, I did manage to finish the last essay in the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. I could really relate to the "Food Nomad" essay; there are definitely *strange* foods that make me feel at home. I have certainly had my fair share of odd looks when I come back with a bag filled with treasures. Although, I will admit that I do also crave the "traditional, crappy, processed" junk food. I feel fortunate that (aside from being a veg ...more
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Jenni Ferrari-Adler is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Michigan, where she received an MFA in fiction. She works as a literary agent. Her short fiction and food writing has been published in numerous places including Glimmer Train and New York Magazine.

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“What does an introvert do when he's left alone? He stays alone.” 156 likes
“Because cooks love the social aspect of food, cooking for one is intrinsically interesting. A good meal is like a present, and it can feel goofy, at best, to give yourself a present. On the other hand, there is something life affirming in taking the trouble to feed yourself well, or even decently. Cooking for yourself allows you to be strange or decadent or both. The chances of liking what you make are high, but if it winds up being disgusting, you can always throw it away and order a pizza; no one else will know. In the end, the experimentation, the impulsiveness, and the invention that such conditions allow for will probably make you a better cook.” 39 likes
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