Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Single Diner's Observation—and the Creating of a Food Blog

This evening was not unlike other nights. I was hungry, and I wanted to eat.

Being in Milwaukee for a weekend alone, I decided to take myself out for dinner. After a quick search on Open Table, I found a highly recommended little Italian restaurant called Il Mito on the western edge of the city in Wauwatosa. I booked myself a reservation for 6:30 and got ready to take myself out.

Upon arriving at the restaurant and being seated, I began to take note of something I had never noticed before: there are definite perks to dining alone. Servers aren't used to individuals--and I'm going to assume here--especially women, dining out alone. I think most people find the thought of not having anyone to talk to during the meal uncomfortable, and so find it slightly out-of-the-ordinary when someone does come walking into a restaurant, especially with a reservation, to eat a meal alone. And because of this supposed oddness, servers feel bad for you. And intrigued. I was asked by the host as I was seated if I had been in last week. I told him, no, this was my first time here. My waitress, Deanna, came to the table and said, "You've been here before, correct?" Again, I said no. She told me that I looked familiar. That I actually looked like someone from TV. We began to chat and laugh about my "twin," and the atmosphere for my evening out, right then and there, was set. Deanna and I were buddies. I was going to be taken care of.

And I was. But not just by Deanna. The bartender talked to me several times. The host stopped by again to check on me. The waiter from two tables over chatted with me a couple times. I was an anomaly. I was unattached. So I was approachable. Deanna and I talked repeatedly, about my food, my drink, the coffee. I got more personality from all of them than anyone else in the restaurant. And that made my dining experience especially enjoyable.

My royal treatment might have also been because I had a notepad on the table and wrote continuously during my meal. I could see it being eyeballed during the course of the evening: what is it that she's writing? Honestly, it began as notes for the bottles of wine that I saw on the bar. But I suddenly realized as I ate that I was having a dialogue in my head about the food that I was eating, just as I do with my friends when we go out. And it came to mind--why don't I write this stuff down? Take notes about the food I eat. What I like about it. What I don't like. Ideas that I have to try. Restaurants that I'd recommend. Stories of dining.

And so my notebook became not just a list of wines that I saw on the bar, but a record of what I ate and what I thought about it. A running tab of random thoughts--about my food.

And so, here I am, beginning another blog for myself and for my friends: a track record of everything food- and drink-related. For ourselves and the food that feeds our souls.

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