Good Food Blog
Delivering bad newsPosted at 11:29AM, 01 December 2008 by Stuart Walton - Food and wine writer
The corkboard in our kitchen is thick with takeaway leaflets. They come through the door in a steady stream, and would mount up in the porch until they formed an ankle-deep mulch if we let them. We carefully pin them up in case, one day, having forgotten to to put anything in the fridge, we find ourselves falling gratefully into the arms of Spick 'n' Spice, Sichuan-a-Go-Go or Perilous Pizza (not their real names).
Delivery food sounded like such a good idea when it first happened. There were always upscale catering companies that would bring a four-course dinner to your door, but the world only really changed when the pizza companies stopped insisting you came to them, and sent boys on mopeds round to you instead.
Takeaway food that you don't have to take away is the ultimate couch potato's dream. It's just a mobile call away, something you can sort while the studio pundits are still discussing the wisdom of putting Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right wing, but before the first ball has been kicked. All you have to do really is find the menu. You can even get them to clear up a bit while you eat.
By the time it wasn't just pizzas that came to your door, but sweet-and-sour pork, chicken dhansak and lamb tagine too, the Brave New World was upon us. If they've come from the other side of town, they might need a little risky reheating by the time they get here. A mate of mine puts pizzas straight into the oven, still in their boxes, on arrival. Otherwise, hey - lukewarm is good too.
In Brighton, where I write, our evening roads are criss-crossed, especially on big telly nights, with takeaway deliveries. I'm constantly answering my door to somebody hidden behind a pile of pizza-boxes, and have to direct them gently to a flat higher up. I don't know who lives there, but they obviously don't do much shopping.
A screech of tyres and a splatter of pizza in the middle of the road the other day marked the late arrival of somebody's Meat Feast.
Some of them still work on the 30-minutes-or-a-pound-off principle, as is evident from the indecent haste with which the deliverers dismount from their mopeds and hot-foot it to the front door. A screech of tyres and a splatter of pizza in the middle of the road the other day marked the late arrival of somebody's Meat Feast, while the only injury sustained by the boy on the moped was thankfully to his dignity (and possibly his pocket).
Other companies don't offer any guarantees. Your Thai banquet will be with you when it's with you. The big decision then is how soon to call back for an update. Giving it another five minutes, and then another, is only putting off the moment when you do actually get through again, an hour hungrier than you were, and find that they've never heard of you, but are happy to offer you the chance of starting again at the back of the queue. Calm down, dear.
On the nights the food doesn't turn up, or takes an hour to turn up, or is a tepid coagulated splodge when it turns up, I somehow feel we've been righteously punished for not planning ahead, using our motor co-ordination and managing to cook, or at least heat something up, ourselves. 'We are idiots,' Bob Dylan once sang. 'It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.' Except we don't.
Who else gets takeaway food delivered? And - the burning question, this - do you tip them?