Dining alone

A piece I wrote after my last visit to New York appeared in the Financial Times this weekend.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Something as pure and scintillating as a raw oyster demands your full attention. You must sniff it for the whiff of sea breeze, the almost-sound of seagulls and waves breaking. Ease it from its shell, add a squeeze of lemon, a dash of sauce mignonette or even (here) a dollop of ketchup laced with horseradish. And then hold it up, the rough shell against your lip, and let it slide into your mouth, giving yourself over to its icy voluptuousness and the silvery taste of the ocean.

There is something sweetly decadent about being a woman in a restaurant alone, well-dressed and content, enjoying a platter of rugged oysters on their bed of ice. I don’t do it often, but when I do, it makes me feel like a “fast” woman of the 1920s, wearing trousers and smoking cigarettes; or a swashbuckling English missionary of the 1930s, crossing the Gobi Desert on a cart drawn by mules; even, at times, Mata Hari. Eating oysters alone, and enjoying them as much as I do, makes me feel that I am capable of anything…

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