Table for one

When I am out with a friend, from the time we meet, perhaps walk to the restaurant, then discuss the menu, catch up, have starter, main course and/or dessert, continue to talk, get the bill and say goodbye, it is normally about 3 hours. But meal for one is not half the time. It is much quicker.

Today, there I was, seated in my hotel restaurant with full dinner service, alone. There were only the restaurant manager and a waiter serving about 7 tables and customers kept pouring in at the time I arrived at the restaurant. “Table for one?” asked the very courteous restaurant manager. “Yes, please.” I can see that everyone else was dressed up, slightly consciously I placed my hands in my hoodie pockets.

I didn’t have starter or dessert. All I ordered was a small glass of white wine and a plate of risotto.

I was so ready for my plate of risotto – I had a wonderful day! Food is my reward! I deliberately told myself I was going to enjoy the meal and not get sucked into technology (oh yes, the million things that you can do on your iPhone – a blessing and curse at the same time).

When food was served, my heart dropped. It came in a tiny portion. Much, much smaller than I expected, considering that I had a prawn salad that resembled a mountain for room service last night when all I wanted was a small portion of something healthy.

It was a plate of something that I could easily finish in 5 minutes!

Remembering my intention of “enjoying dinner” (which was the whole reason I didn’t want do room service), I resisted the urge to pick up my phone, and very gracefully, tore up the bread roll on the side and slowly put into my mouth. Then, I ground some black pepper onto the risotto and took a small bite. Yums. Oh, maybe I should take a sip of the wine first to relax my mind that was still racing with thoughts from the intense thinking session I had just before the meal. Then I finished the spinach garnish – bugger, I thought spinach was meant to be part of the risotto, not the garnish!

Someone texted me, I checked the time – 8.10pm. Hey, not bad. 5 minutes passed and I ate about 20% of the risotto, instead of 100%.

So quietly, a task was set – to finish my meal at 8.30pm. I had 20 minutes to finish it, so like a child, I divided the food into 4 portions.

Each 5 minutes was as long as 10. I ate very, very slowly. Where should I put my hands when I was still chewing? Where should I look? How should I taste the food properly – do I try to analyse what ingredients were in it? Do I taste the bite as a whole? Do I disassemble the food?

Oh, the questions you would ask when you are re-learning to eat.

The first 10 minutes was excruciating. The table beside me had their main course served just after mine – I think the lady had grilled sea bass with potatoes and vegetables – they already finished the food and was chatting away.

I think the alcohol kicked in between minute number 11 and 15. I took a bite from the fourth portion, but feeling guilty, decided to return the bit from the third one. I finally picked up my phone to try to pass time – replied to the text, and browsed 3 pages.

Hurray, 16th minute! OK, the alcohol was definitely in my system now because I had a brilliant idea for my next blog post. I finished up the last portion of the risotto – hey, what’s that thing in it? Is it cabbage? Interesting, I didn’t realise there was cabbage – and the bread roll. Then I drank wine.

I paused for a bit. I was not even feeling full ! But I suppose, human beings should not have too much for dinner, they said it’s bad for health. Moreover, there would be tea and biscuit, and popcorn in my room.

Stood up. Mission completed. I made it.

Risotto (in the middle of the 2nd portion), bread roll, wine and me.

Risotto (in the middle of the 2nd portion), bread roll, wine and me.

(now, I’m going to make tea with biscuits, and eat popcorn whilst I see what’s on TV!)

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