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Like many people, I was not always comfortable about eating alone in restaurants, especially nicer places. But during these past four months in Europe, there have been many times when I’ve been traveling alone, and thus, dining alone, and as a result, I am now much more at ease with such situations.

Dining alone is something much more accepted in big cities and often more for men. A woman who dines alone often receives questioning pity looks. It is also much more accepted at lunchtime than at dinnertime. And I have to say, it’s not easy during Christmastime when families are all together at restaurants. The key, however, is all about getting more comfortable with yourself.

I usually use two tactics to be more comfortable when dining alone. Number one: enjoy your meal and your environment. I’ve had several opportunities to dine alone in sit-down restaurants during the past few days in Paris, both at lunchtime and for dinner. This city offers great people-watching, so even though the rain prohibited me from sitting outside, I was still able to people-watch inside. Instead of spending the entire time texting in between bites, treat it as an opportunity to have some alone time and look around.

However, if you’re not quite there yet with your level of comfort, or just would like to have a little fun, you can also pretend to be a food critic. Sometimes, as long as I’m dressed semi-nicely, I’ll bring out my best etiquette and food-tasting demeanor and pretend to be critiquing a restaurant. It’s actually kind of amusing. It also really does allow you a better evaluation of the food. Since you’re not talking to anyone, you can focus on savoring the flavor (or lack of).

There you go. Next time, enjoy dining alone. And if you’re in Paris, don’t go to  L’Emeraud by the Bastille, but do try out Chez Jenny, which is just a little ways off from the Republique stop.

Bon appetit.

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