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An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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M.I.Y.O Monday: What Is Lonely Food?

posted by in MIYO Monday

It’s not quite the happy question to herald the return of M.I.Y.O Monday but hey, who doesn’t get mellow, especially on Mondays?

Note: M.I.Y.O. Monday stands for Make It Your Own Monday, a question thrown out to DCF readers every Monday to jumpstart the week with lively interaction. I also welcome questions and suggestions for future MIYO Mondays. Email me.

Circumstance arranges it – though I say “connives” – that I’m alone intermittently for a two week stretch. It shouldn’t pose a problem. I’m a writer by profession and writers generally tend to live solitary lives. My best work is done communing with the keyboard, consorting with cookbooks, and hobnobbing with countless glasses of water (creativity makes me thirsty). I also have no compunction about eating alone. A recent tally reveals (to me) that 90% of my meals are eaten solo, but never in front of my computer; always, I accord respect to every meal, no matter how small or menial.

But as one day turns to two and then four and then more, I start feeling sort of logy. My home office looks out over a cluster of trees and as twilight falls, it gently mantles the leaves in a grayish-blue glow. I witness this every evening and with it, I feel my mood dim, just as surely as day embraces night.

My appetite, which is incessantly turbo-charged, dwindles … to what, I don’t know. It’s unexpected and I lose kilter. Suddenly I subsist on trail mix and chocolate soy milk – because I’ll always love chocolate. In one particularly neurotic stretch, I start counting the hours in almonds: how many more almonds left to eat until company comes back? The trail mix has some coconut chips and nuggets of dried figs too. My teeth crunch down, I taste a surge of sweet, my heart soars.

One night, haunted evermore by what I call the curse of the creative mind – sleeplessness – I make my way to the kitchen. Pulling out a loaf of bread, I take out some extra virgin olive oil, its unfiltered essence stains the little teacup I absentmindedly drizzle it into. From my collection of sea salts, I fish out a container mix of Brittany sea salt and thyme, sprinkling a little of each into the olive oil. My eyes register the slight ripple on the oil’s surface, coarse grey grains immersing into a golden green, pricked by needles of thyme.

I tear off a hunk of bread and bring it to my nose, inhaling deeply. Floury notes, doughy comfort. I dip the bread in oil and bite. The cushiony softness of the dough soaks in the oil like a sponge, assuaging my solitary, sorry state. The oil cuts in with its peppery, fruity astringency; somewhere in back, thyme tells its tale of minty pungency. Perk up, girl! It seems to say.

And so I do. And the next day, company comes back and I’m lonely no more.

Tell me, what is food that you eat when you’re lonely and/or yearning for company?

37 Responses to “M.I.Y.O Monday: What Is Lonely Food?”

  • Dry Cereal, eaten by the hand. Good in a pinch, and I don’t need to dirty up any dishes. Usually Koko Crunch.

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    Lori Reply:

    Ian-
    Now that you mention it, lonely food is characterized by a spoon or the decided lack of utensils.

    –lori

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    u8mypinkcookies Reply:

    i eat my cereals dry too! i never put milk or anything and I eat ‘em just like chips :)

    My lonely food is noodle soup, burger & fries or Holy Kettle Corn/ Chef Tony’s! Yummm! :)

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  • When melancholy or loneliness hits, chocolate, in whatever form it may come, never fails to make me feel better. :) My latest cure came in the form of Gong Cha’s Milk Chocolate. :)

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    Lori Reply:

    Oh chocolate, what would a girl do without you?

    –lori

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  • Hmm.. As a girl who rather enjoys solitude and “alone time” (!), I don’t usually get lonely. On the rare day that loneliness does strike, I find comfort in preparing and partaking of a bowl of French Onion. I make it the traditional way so it takes me about five hours at the very least and I find that the simple but somewhat tedious process takes my mind off of my dim mood and the hearty bowl of soup that I get afterwards hits the spot and warms my tummy in such a way that feels a lot like a hug from a long lost friend..

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    Lori Reply:

    Serena-
    You must be a glutton for punishment :p

    –lori

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  • Cold kimchi over hot rice. Most of the time there’s kimchi in the fridge.

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    Lori Reply:

    I’ve not tried this but dual-temperature food uplifts me.

    –lori

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  • Lonely food: anything eaten straight from the fridge–cold–no reheating involved. Pizza. Pasta. Dimsum. If I’m lucky and there’s sushi, it doesn’t feel too lonely, haha.

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    Lori Reply:

    K-
    All this, and eaten standing in front of the fridge, door wide open?
    –lori

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  • Fish and chips thrown back with a bottle of beer.

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    Lori Reply:

    Fried food, ahhh! I bow at the temple of deep fried anythings.

    –lori

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  • Yesterday I ended up having Sunday lunch by myself for messy reasons. I drove to Charlie’s and ordered a Black Angus burger with Shrooms, and ate half as I cried.

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    Lori Reply:

    Therese-
    Glad you texted back. Food stained by tears isn’t something I’d wish on anyone but I hope you were able to save the rest of the burger to eat for when you felt better.

    –lori

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  • first time to put a comment here. been following your blog ever since. but this week miyo Monday really strike me. whenever loneliness comes around, i always look forward to something warm inside me. like chowking’s lomi or just simply lucky me’s poku noodles. even if on a hot day, as long as I’m feeling blue, i think of hot soup i can get.

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    Lori Reply:

    I’m the same way. I crave for hot soup at the height of summer and ice cream when it’s raining or cold outside.

    –lori

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  • Oh my. I get lonely a LOT now that I live here. But instead of eating comforting Filipino food, I enjoy crispy balls of Falafel with Tahina dip, a poor man’s foodie fix at 2 AED (around PHP 25) or a fresh-out-of-the-oven manakeesh (I call it the Arabic pizza) filled with beef or my favorite: labneh (thick yoghurt) and honey. I don’t enjoy cooking when I’m lonely as the food gets to imbibe my loneliness. That’s just me.

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    Lori Reply:

    Wow Didi, your palate’s turned Middle Eastern! :p

    –lori

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    Didi Reply:

    Hahaha! Just because those items are super cheap. And I’m taking advantage of the diversity of cuisines I have right out of my doorstep ;p But yesterday, after sharing a meal with another food blogger (who is Indian btw) in a Filipino resto, tapsilog + gulaman suddenly became my lonely food combo. I even wrote a post about it on the blog.

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  • A pizza with lots of cheese. One bite and my mood swings from gloomy to glee. :)

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    Lori Reply:

    Try the 4-cheese pizza from La Dolce Vita.

    –lori

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  • Pizza with lots of cheese. One bite and my mood quickly shifts from sullen to cheery. :)

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  • Eek, not with the fridge door open, what kinda barbarian do you think I am? (Hehehe)
    [btw, the reply button doesn't work for me, not sure about other non-admin commenters on DCF]

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  • I actually look forward to eating alone because I can order whatever I want without being judged. Whenever my office lunchmates are out and I am left to eat alone I buy Crispy Shrimp with Mayonnaise from Shanghai Bistro and eat it all by myself. Also Chikininee (fried chicken skin) from Bacolod Chicken Inasal.

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    Lori Reply:

    This sounds like a lunch for champions, Ami :)
    –lori

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  • chocolate chip cookies.. the gooey ones and chef tony’s american cheddar popcorns.

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    Lori Reply:

    Thank goodness a batch of chocolate chip cookies can be baked up in no time!

    –lori

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  • a steaming bowl of noodle soup, particularly this spicy and sour one from my fave noodle shop. I can slurp all I want. I can splatter my clothes. I can tear up and people think it’s the spice. I always, always feel better after. And Lindt’s bittersweet chocolate bar with a touch of sea salt.

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  • When I feel down, am stuck at home and, for some reason, can’t have food delivered, then my go-to comfort food is fried rice. I scour my cupboard, refrigerator, and my building’s convenience store for whatever I can dump into it — anything from healthy tuna, to a whole jar of heart-stopping aligue. Near-empty bottles of sauces might get poured in, too. After stir-frying the lot, I eat it from a big bowl, with a spoon. And when I’ve had my fill, there MUST be dessert. Nothing can lift my spirits like sugar.

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  • i have been alone for work trip in Copenhagen (2 weeks!). i have been so homesick and can’t get my appetite running. for the few days before i return home, i have been munching on cookie with choco-hazelnut center, a mug of milk, a handful of nuts and a glass of cranberry juice.

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  • A grilled quezo de bola sandwich. Something about the gooey salty center makes it pure comfort. I usually end up eating chocolate after to offset the saltiness.

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  • I choose either of 2 things to help me get rid of the drama…..

    1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And I do mean the cups, not pieces or bars. If this isn’t available, I get the Peanut Butter Bars from Mrs. Fields. Same flavor and same effect.

    2. Nutella by the spoonful. ’nuff said.

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  • Hi Lori! What bread did you use? :D

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  • Lonely food can be either be a luxurious, small dish or a bite of something to indulge your guilty pleasure. Take you pick. I guess it all depends on what you make out of it. For me, I found that homemade strawberry jam and butter spread on warm bread is something of a breakfast or snack and dessert all at once. Ah, butter! You make my heart sing and my cholesterol jump!

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  • I just discovered your blog, and my, what a treat. I’ll be back for more!

    My lonely food? It varies by season and degree of loneliness. Wasa crackers spread with natural peanut butter, sprinkled with coarse salt (Maldon is my favorite), and a drizzle of local honey (because “local honey” can also form the word “lonely” when scrambled).

    Sometimes, it’s toast with salted butter and marmalade. In the summertime, it’s sliced, jewel-toned, jammy strawberries sprinkled with raw sugar and floating in a shallow pool of cream.

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  • My lonely meal would conSist of either: instant Japanese udon soup with frozen Korean dumplings or garlic rice with spam or corned beef.

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