A growing number of people are eating alone, whether at home or in restaurants, and overturning traditional etiquette. Zhang Yangfei reports.
In China, food has always played a major role in promoting social cohesion. Communal eating is not only familybased and deeply rooted in the nation’s cultural heritage, but is also regarded as an indicator of society’s health and stability.
Given that background, it is little wonder that eating alone, publicly or privately, has long been considered taboo.
However, in recent years things have started to change as a result of demographic shifts and the growing influence of modern lifestyles.
According to a report released last year by the global market researcher Kantar, 46 percent of people interviewed said they had eaten alone in the previous 24 hours, a rise of 9 percent from 2017, and about 16 percent expressed a preference for eating solo.
In addition, a thread on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like comments platform, titled “eating alone” contains 226,000 posts and has garnered 290 million hits.
In 2017, WithEating Magazine, a Chinese foodie journal, started its Eating Alone channel on Bilibili, a popular video-sharing website. To date, the channel, which has 52 episodes explaining how to prepare meals for one, has attracted more than 200 million hits.
In February, the magazine published a book of the same name, listing 65 recipes for dishes ranging from desserts to foreign cuisine, such as roasted ribs, the Korean favorite bibimbap and seafood curry.
To many people’s surprise, it became a best-seller. “We didn’t expect the book to sell so well. We didn’t print enough copies initially,” the magazine said on its Weibo account last month.