Yes! I am a married, Indian, woman & I have no regrets eating without my husband
I am a foodie! And, I have always loved anything and everything remotely connected with food. Food helps me in my days of highs and lows. I eat to celebrate my reasons for happiness and I love to eat in my days of sorrow to bring some hope. It is no co-incidence that the chemistry between me and my husband is directly proportional to the amount of happy lunches and dinners we have had. And to put it simply I love to celebrate my love for food even without my husband ie when he is away :)
While some might find it weird and others funny, food and marriage are quite linked in India. In rural India, married women eat after the husband and everybody else in the family has finished their food. In cities women usually don’t eat without their husbands. If he is late or not eating at home, women prefer to wait or skip the dinner with snacking. All in all, married Indian women don’t prefer to cook when their husbands are not around and many, definitely don’t like to eat without them.
As a couple or a family, eating together is indeed a pleasure activity and we should try and do this as often as possible, but the problem lies in presuming that a married woman does not enjoy a meal or a lavish dinner without her husband and when he is not around the cooking part of life can relax or is simply not needed.
If you are still struggling to understand why and how this happens in India, try going out and eat in a restaurant as a single woman and if the weird looks are not enough of an evidence, order sumptuously and relish the food. You will easily notice everybody from the waiter to your co-diners, find the sight of a hungry, Indian woman, eating alone, bizarre and surprising!
The examples of what I am trying say are everywhere far or near. A friend of mine who got married a few years ago, has a travelling husband. For her a lot of time at home goes without him. It took her great efforts and time to negotiate with the family that even without her husband she has a right to cook lavishly and eat proper meals thrice a day. Despite her hard efforts, the practice of keeping the best portion of veggies and rice for the male members still continues.
My days at oxford and a four month stay at London was another insight. I often flooded my friend’s and family's chat feeds with the candle light dinners I had with myself. Crispy-fancy veggies, interesting cutlery, amazing weather and fine wine was always a reason for me to cook and enjoy my dinners. However, one of the most consistent replies would be- “but what is the need to make such an effort?” On the contrary when a male friend of mine cooked and circulated the fancy images around, the most consistent reply would be- “you seem to be enjoying life!” Over and over again I have always felt, when it comes to women, cooking for oneself is considered a wasteful activity.
I know not one, but many instances of married women being ridiculed and considered self centered if they refuse to wait endlessly to eat with their husbands or cook lavishly for themselves.
Nevertheless, my fascination for food continues. I do love to cook for my family and my husband, BUT to the dismay of many in India I also enjoy my meals without him and I love to cook and eat simply by myself :)