The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts March 10, 2006

Good Eats - by Maya Silver

DIY Dining
If the phrase “table for one” has never escaped your lips, then you have probably never eaten at a restaurant alone. And grabbing a sub at Quizno’s doesn’t count. I’m talking about a full-out, order-from-a-menu, tip-a-waiter, put-a-napkin-on- your-lap meal.

DIY dining is an experience that everyone should try at least once if, as a people led by greats like Oprah and Maury Povich, we can actualize our hopes of becoming self-contained independents. If you don’t understand what that means, it’s because you are ignorant. Ignorant of what it means to march to the beat of your own drummer.

Of course, finding your own drummer is no easy task, but it will become easier if you can stop listening to other people’s drummers. The best way to do that is to take a little time to get to know yourself. And the best way to do that is to date yourself. Pick a day to flush your responsibilities down the proverbial toilet. Drop your comrades like they’re hot cakes on a humid day and make a reservation with your soul, as well as with a restaurant, in downtown Oberlin.

But, of all the tens of tens of eateries in this little region of Lorain County, which ones are conducive to DIY dining? This question looms large in all of our minds and surely, should they have been presented with it, in the minds of the great philosophers of an era long forgotten. I will tackle it, but cautiously.

The best place in Oberlin to fade out the drumming of your peers is Tooo Chinoise. It’s dim so you won’t be too tempted to people-watch and you can direct your attentions inward. Even your quietest ruminations won’t be drowned out at this Chinese bistro because the noise level is always relatively low.

Additionally, chopsticks are an excellent way to become aware of your actions and yourself through internal means. Rather than mindlessly shoving food in your mouth with a fork, you will be able to concentrate on what you are eating and appreciate it more in light of the “struggle.” And be sure to try the Sesame Tofu, highly recommended by campus personality sophomore Dan Schaeffer.

Another way of becoming self-aware is to situate yourself in a large crowd. At the simultaneously overrated and underrated Oberlin Inn,* you will immediately become self-conscious amongst the large groups of visitors and parents. The brightly lit large space will only increase this sense of alienation. I suggest the Sunday brunch (10 a.m. until 2 p.m.), when the breakfast buffet will be laid out in all its greasy-glory splendor. You will not be able to help reconsidering who you, the solo diner, are in the face of such a large crowd in such an open and unforgiving space.

A more unconventional place to enjoy a meal is at the movie theater. A movie ticket is more than just a ticket to the cinema. It is also a ticket to self-discovery. So take a trip to the Apollo and fill out a balanced meal with Jordan Almonds for protein and popcorn for vegetable. To intensify the experience, take a seat next to a group of friends. Don’t let their presence inhibit how loud you open wrappers, chew, swallow or guffaw at the comic stylings of a B-list celebrity. Once you emerge from your movie meal and realize you have no one with whom to converse about the experience, you will be forced to engage in a dialogue with yourself.

If you want to get something more out of your dinner than vitamins, minerals and a jolly time, DIY dining is a must. If you are plagued with self-esteem issues, you can even invent an imaginary pal to come along. You can call him Famished Fernando.

*Recent Recipient of the Silver Spoon Award for dining excellence and the Lorain County Beautiful Award for their lush gardens. Congratulate your waiter!

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