Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dinner For One

Is anything sadder than a recipe book whose title lets you pretend you are in a relationship with a home-making companion, when in fact you live alone, by-passed by the dating scene and left to fend for yourself in the kitchenette of your studio apartment?

Sunset’s Cooking For Two … Or Just For You is just such a book. An introductory pep talk kindly suggests that all the recipes have been devised for single portions, should you want to divide the meal between two days. It’s hard to justify cooking a meal from scratch using fancy ingredients if it’s just to fill the gaping emptiness in your gut, which is another reason why there are so few serious cookbooks for one. We all know that cooking for one leans heavily on the pre-packaged frozen food and tinned soups aisle, with a hefty helping of alcohol in which to drown your lonely heart. This meal will be “portable” (as the Sunset book points out) because it will be eaten from one’s lap in front of the television. Should the impossible happen and you find yourself with a date to entertain, well, you can always cook something for two and forego the leftovers.

This book has plenty of illustrations staging these phantom dates. You can tell they’re fantasies because the humans are always off in the distance, out of focus. The food remains the center of focus and attention, presented with all the trappings of romance (read: candles and flowers). The imaginary dates all look like they didn’t have time to change after leaving the office, and offer seductive come-hither smiles.

How do you get the stuff out of those glasses? 

This is a cruel misrepresentation of actual married life. Seriously, no-one hangs out like that while food is sitting on the table. It’s just bitch-and-moan from the minute you walk in the door, followed by silent chewing while plotting which excuse you’ll use tonight not to have sex.

Cooking For Two …Or Just For You, Lane Publishing Co., 1978

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