i have to admit that i enjoy eating alone as much as i enjoy good company at a meal. maybe more. like andy said, it allows you to experiment freely, both cooking at home and dining out.
actually, part of the reason i ended up becoming a foodie was from working a lot of 4-12m shifts, and dining alone. since at least one of us had to cover the office, the others on duty each would stagger our dinner hours (and sometimes stagger back
). so, i ended up going out to a lot of restaurants by myself. in this, i found that i was able to concentrate on the enjoyment of the food, and learned to slow down and relax, at least for that hour (ish
also, i got to analyze the dishes better than if i was in conversation with someone. that helped me learn to recreate some of them at home. from that, my love of cooking was borne.
i never thought much of it, but i know a lot of people who would rather die than go out somewhere by themselves.
i've never had a problem socializing, so for me, good food and good friends can be mutually exclusive.
or, in other words: for the most part, i'd rather have a great meal alone than a crappy one with mediocre company.
(so if you ever invite me over, you'd better cook like our iron chef, or be really really funny!)