Dining Alone

 

When you see any book that bears the name of noted author, food historian, and scholar, Barbara Santich, you know that there will be value within its pages. This book is no exception.

Here Barbara Santich has taken an editorial role, collecting writings from others on a singular topic - that of eating on one's own. It is a singular book too, in that although it is all about food and dining, there are no recipes. Nor are the authors famous chefs or food writers (yet).

Because this is the key to it. The work here is all from food writing students at the University of Adelaide from 2007-2013, written as part of their overall assessment. In her Preface, Santich tells of how, in 2006, she implored the University's Chair of Creative Writing to include a course leading to a Graduate Certificate in Food Writing in his School.

And so the stories poured in: evocative, poignant, nostalgic. Lisa Dempster tells of eating olives in Greece, sadness, lost love – and maybe a new one; a more practical one by Suzanne le Page Langlois discusses dining with an iPad for company; Josie Palombo mourns a mysterious loss in Portofino. Not all are personal, or if they are they may have been written as if about someone else.

One author recalls a large family meal in the context of a later, single, one. Another talks about a booked dinner for two, which became a lone meal. Several touch on the aloneness of dining, even when with someone else.

But mostly Santich keeps to the theme in this slim volume. One thing is certain, reading these accounts may be a solo occupation, but you will not feel isolated as the authors reach out through their words, rousing memories and beliefs we all have about food and dining - whether in company or not.

Dining Alone, stories from the table for one, edited by Barbara Santich, published by Wakefield Press November 2013, paperback, rrp $24.95, ISBN 978 17430 52686

 

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