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What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipes Hardcover – May 1, 2009

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"Cuban Cocktails: 100 Classic and Modern Drinks"
From the renowned Cuban rum bar Cienfuegos—owned by the co-owner of Death and Co., named Best American Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail® in 2010—comes this spirited collection of 100 recipes that celebrate Cuba’s rich history and culture. See Details
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Editorial Reviews


"I am hooked on this book. It confirms once again that we humans are endlessly confounding and entertaining creatures. Deborah and her husband, artist Patrick McFarlin, blow the covers of food pros in revealing what they eat when no one's around. Then they move on to friends and acquaintances. You'll smile knowingly, muse a lot, maybe blush, get very hungry and probably end up in the kitchen, enjoying every bite of eating alone. This is another keeper from Deborah Madison."

(Lynne Rossetto Kasper The Splendid Table 2009-04-30)

"Just when you thought there was nothing conceivably new to write about food, Deborah 'Greens' Madison and her artist partner, Patrick McFarlin have devised a truly intimate, startling, funny, and genuinely subversive book. What We Eat When We Eat Alone is like peeping through a one-way mirror into the life of others. Not only what we eat, but how we eat it (spreading newsprint over one's chest to eat in bed) fills this entertaining book with enough fun and good ideas to keep you turning page after page. Even though the chapter 'Men and Their Meat' is not what you think it might be, you will be missing a rare treat if you don't buy and read this book. If there's a second edition I'll offer my singular treatment of half an avocado as a favorite snack."

(Peter Coyote Actor /Author of Sleeping Where I Fall 2009-04-30)

"As Deborah and Patrick reveal in every word and image of their delightfully personal narrative, you're never alone when you eat because food in itself is company - as intimate and personal as the individuals preparing and consuming it. Never has the world of food been more enjoyably presented, in drawings as spontaneous as the recipes are practical, from 'Mashed Potato Soup' to 'Polenta Smothered with Greens.' As this collection of mini short-stories proves, how we eat alone, no matter our gender, age or background, defines us not only to others but to ourselves. All these voices confessing to what they do when no one else is about form a humane collective of daily life, wrapped in a fine romance between a Yankee cook and a Southern artist, whose love of friends and of each other is as clear as their love of food."

(Betty Fussell Author of Raising Steaks:The Life & Times of American Beef 2009-04-30)

"What a fun book! It is totally 100% compelling and I LOVE the illustrations. I have always ranted on about how much I hate eating alone, and how, in fact, I consider eating alone a greater hazard than drinking alone. Then along comes this book which suddenly makes cancelling my dinner date tonight in favor of a fried egg on asparagus in an armchair seems like the most desirable thing on earth! (Not least of all because it means that while I eat, I can keep reading.)"

(Laura Calder Television Host and Food Writer 2009-04-30)

"Eating is at the same time the most social of activities and the most intimate. We present our social side when we eat with others, but we reveal our most private selves when we dine alone. While almost all cookbooks focus social side of eating with others, leave it to Deborah Madison and her artist husband Pat McFarlin to probe the fascinating inner world of eating alone."

(Russ Parsons Los Angeles Times 2009-04-30)

"This is a truly unique book written by two professionals, but only by trial and error will we ever know if the recipes (should you care to try them) live up to the quality of the text and the genius of the sketches. We can be deeply thankful, however that no technical assemblage is offered for moose stew."

(Patrick Oliphant Card-carrying vegetarian in Sata Fe, NM 2009-04-30)

"What a brilliant idea. I wish I'd thought of it myself - but then it wouldn't have had Patrick McFarlin's illustrations, and be the gorgeous book it is."

(Paul Levy Writer, journalist, broadcaster, and author of Out to Lunch and The Official Foodie Handbook 2009-04-30)

"The most charming food related book of the season"

(Denver Post 2009-04-29)

Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin's "What We Eat When We Eat Alone" (Gibbs Smith) is a delightful stream-of-consciousness romp through the highlights of research they compiled about the solo-dining habits of friends and strangers. (Joe Yonan The Washington Post 2009-06-03)

"Impossible to put down." (Fine Cooking 2009-12-01)

From the Inside Flap

What do you eat when no one is watching? From young college students to spry seniors, from empty-nest mothers to men and women with traveling spouses, from bachelors to the many people between relationships, millions of us dine alone every night. But what do we eat? Is it takeout, a frozen dinner, or our favorite gourmet meal? In What We Eat When We Eat Alone, Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin set out to learn what people chew on when there isn't anyone else around. The responses are surprising and far-ranging-food-gone-wild in its most elemental form. Some solo diners relish the elaborate, while others prefer the bizarre, some eat their favorite foods, some eat what's convenient, and others choose their menus according to their moods. The book is illustrated with the art of Patrick McFarlin, capturing the flavor of the stories. It also includes great recipes at the end of each chapter for those who dine alone, including tips on making smaller portion meals, and also on using leftovers in different recipes for those who don't want to eat the same dish night after night. Our relationship with food is one of the defining and intimate relationships of our lives; it says a lot about who we are and how we live. Part cookbook, part memoir, part pure fun, What We Eat When We Eat Alone explores the joys and sorrows of eating solo and gives us a glimpse into the lives of everyday people who do.

Deborah Madison is the founding chef of Greens restaurant, and the author of ten cookbooks and countless articles on food and farming. Her books have been honored with two Julia Child Cookbook of the Year awards and four James Beard awards, among others. Long involved with Slow Food, Deborah also serves on the board of the Seed Savers Exchange and the Edible Kitchen Garden at Monte del Sol charter school. She lives in Galisteo, New Mexico, with her husband, Patrick McFarlin.

Patrick McFarlin is a journeyman painter and graphic designer. His fine art has been shown in New York, San Francisco, Houston, Scottsdale, and Santa Fe, among other cities. He is the creator of Pat's Downtown Club, featured on CBS Sunday Morning. He has received numerous awards and fellowships for his painting. He works out of his studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith; First Edition edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423604962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423604969
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Related Media

More About the Author

Deborah Madison is the author of nine cookbooks and countless articles on food, cooking, and farming. Currently she blogs for Gourmet and Culinate.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

140 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Erika S. on October 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I had really high hopes for this book. I am in my mid-twenties, live alone (which I love), and am an avid cook, so this book piqued my interest. I was quite disappointed. First of all, a book about eating and dining alone should not be written in the first person plural ("we think" "we talked to" etc). Second of all, the book is nearly completely based on gender stereotypes of how men and women cook and eat (some of it is funny, but it quickly moves from funny to irritating). Finally, despite the fact that Madison has written a book about eating and cooking for one, she not only confesses that she doesn't like eating alone (which is fine), but goes so far as to say that she felt such pity for an "obviously single" woman buying a boneless chicken breast one Saturday evening that she wanted to invite the woman over for dinner. So much for the idea of enjoying cooking for yourself, taking care of yourself, and all the other things that she discusses in the book as the benefits of dining alone. (plus, what does an "obviously single" woman look like?)

I've used and loved many of Madison's cookbooks, particularly Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and her farmer's market cookbook, but this one is, in my opinion, a throwaway. Save your money and get "Alone in the kitchen with an eggplant" instead.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By L. MB on August 15, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read this book, and made a few of the dishes. They are easy to fix and most have 5-6 ingredients that are easily found in the local market. The book talks a lot about farmers markets and gardens and such. But, really the shopping center worked for me. Most of the meals were made quickly, and are written for 2 but can be easily doubled. I have noticed that I have increased, with little effort, the fruits and vegies I eat by just making and taking my lunch to work out of this book. I just prep the night before, sometimes fully cook, then heat in microwave if it needs to be warmed. The narrative in the book is entertaining, the art work is fun, and the food turns out well. So, overall this is my favorite cookbook. I have a couple others on Kindle, that I don't recall if I've reviewed, but this is the one I use the most.
**As far as formatting goes:
I own a kindle 2 and DX and have this on both. I prefer to read/cook off the DX because the format is set out on the "page" slighly more appealing. But I take the k2 to the store to shop for ingredients and have no trouble reading the recipes from it. So, if I didn't own the DX I could use it to cook from as well. The TOC are linked, BUT the index is not linked. The recipes are all listed in the index, not the TOC. At first this annoyed me, but I made a work around. I just go to the index, find the recipe I want -or am interested in-then do a search from there and it goes to page. Works great.

I highly recommend this cookbook. It is easy, fun, and has a lot of variety, Plus works great on the DX, and above average (for a cookbook) on K2.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Debra Daniels-zeller on July 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin have written a great quirky book about favorite solo meals and how we indulge ourselves when no one is watching. It's a behind the scenes look at our lives and our values. I laughed out loud at some of the bizzare foods people craved from their childhoods like fried Spam and grape jelly and hungered to feast on foods like asparagus roasted for an entire week of solo snacking. Deborah's writing was great, but I confess that Patrick's surprisingly bold pictures compelled me to search through the book and smile at his creativity before reading the whole thing. This is the kind of fun book anyone could enjoy.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Annie Slocum on June 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Deborah Madison is my all time favorite cookbook author and this book is a wonderful collaboration with her husband, Patrick McFarlin whose fantastic illustrations add so much to the book. I could not put the book down and laughed a lot of the way through it. It is a fun book to read and I have found my self totally addicted to avocado tacos since I read about them! I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in food on any level!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the past few years, I've regularly found myself at home with the cats while my husband goes on 10-day business trips. To keep myself sane, entertained, and fed, I've gotten in the habit of grabbing a "cooking for one" cookbook from the library, each time he goes away. Eventually, I figure, I'll find a recipe collection that suits every one of my solo-foodie needs. I like this book a lot, but it's not so wonderful that I'm going to keep it around.

The cookbook has an excellent pedigree. The two authors include Deborah Madison and her artist partner (husband? well, she mentions they've been together for 20 years). Madison is the author of several excellent cookbooks. Among them is Greens Cookbook, one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, which has earned many honorable food stains over the past 20 years. (This cookbook isn't vegetarian, but it's very vegetarian-friendly; you shouldn't be drawn to or frightened away in that regard.) So I feel that the recipes can all be _trusted_, and she has the gift of giving excellent instructions. There are 100 recipes, and they are all over the map, from "what to eat" ideas that are meant to be inspiration for when you just want to throw things together but didn't happen to think of THIS, to meals in which you go all-out for yourself.

The premise behind the entire book is that, over many years, Madison and McFarlin got in the habit of asking people, "What do you eat when you eat alone?" and keeping track of the answers. Some of the people they queried are well-known chefs, others ordinary folks like you-and-me, such as someone they met on a vacation.
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