I've become a serial takeaway eater. No shame. No guilt. Just eat on repeat | Romesh Ranganathan

One of the few positives of lockdown is being able to order takeaways and feeling like a hero for doing so. I always answer the door to the delivery driver expecting some sort of congratulations, or maybe even a medal in the shape of a pizza. What actually happens is I am once again surprised by a brand new interpretation of “no-contact delivery”. So far, it has ranged from leaving the food on a cardboard altar in the middle of the driveway and throwing stones at the window to let us know it’s arrived, to a knock at the door and a kiss with tongues to thank me for my custom. The rules seem arbitrary.

Then there’s the question of what exactly can be considered safe levels of human consumption. I have the same calorie intake during lockdown as a heavy-set man who is cycling across Europe. Also, I’ve been using the extra time in the day to research new snack foods. Only last week I discovered popcorn seasoning (chilli and lemon is a particular favourite). For seven days solid you couldn’t enter our house without hearing kernels popping in the microwave, followed by the sound of my rage at the number of stubbornly unpopped kernels. Then I would eat it all and put another bag in the microwave. While that was popping, I would look at takeaway menus. The other day my wife actually asked me how I was able to eat this much. She wasn’t having a dig – she genuinely couldn’t understand how I was physically able to eat as much as I do.

My wife is far more health-conscious than I am, and so will rein in my requests to order in. But I have found a way to sidestep this, by using places that have “healthy options”. Don’t get me wrong: it can be frustrating to watch my wife fritter away a takeaway opportunity on something from the “lighter bites” page (mmm, that reminds me: fritters). It’s unlikely that science will ever find a way, but I would love it if people could consume calories as a couple. My wife would leave spare calories for me to mop up every day, although I can’t even imagine her response if she ended up putting on weight as a result.

There was a low point recently, when a new takeaway opened in Crawley that I got excited about. I’m nervous to name it, partly because I don’t like advertising, but also because I have slagged off the seating arrangements at this restaurant on stage, at length. Takeaway is a whole different prospect, however, at the place that has a name ending in a sound like “mother”, and beginning with what a dog’s tail does.

My wife was not interested in getting anything because she felt “takeawayed out”, and, reader, I confess: I ordered and ate the food alone, while she and the kids had something homemade. I mean, what the hell is wrong with me? This poor woman thought she had been asked, “Do you fancy getting takeaway tonight?”, when what she was actually asked was, “I’m getting takeaway tonight, do you fancy joining me, not because I want you to, but just to ease my feelings of guilt?”

As we sat and ate our separate meals, I should have felt shame. Instead, I ate my meal thinking to myself: “This was hard, but now it will be easier to do it next time.” I have the mind of a serial killer.


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