stories

Eating in the right place

left: original artwork, right: the tea towel itself (creased, stained and used)
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Other than for Friday night's Indian takeaway, we ate dinner at the table for every mealtime until I went to university. Occasionally I’d sneak a takeaway pizza to eat in my room at home (sorry mum), but this was nothing compared to the luxury I discovered in first year: eating a bowl of pasta, tucked under my duvet in my single bed in halls with an over-heating laptop playing Parks & Recreation resting on my knees.

I’m a messy eater and some food tastes better when eaten less delicately; something I didn’t feel comfortable with when living in shared households, so most of the meals I ate while living in house shares were eaten in bed or at my wobbly desk. It wasn’t just the tiny sense of rebellion that made this enjoyable; the comfort of eating, unwatched in the coziest space still feels like a treat, but it only works for certain foods. Eating a meal which requires both a knife and a fork proves difficult, meals which can be eaten with a spoon or a fork lend themselves to eating in bed well.

I have a dinner table now (though it's been my desk since March), but it doesn’t mean I eat every (or even most) of my meals here; some foods don’t suit being eaten at a table (and most of the time I just prefer to eat on the sofa watching TV). Some meals deserve a particular environment in which to be fully appreciated. I like settling in before I eat rather than eating on the go, so I can focus on every mouthful. These are the foods I’d rather not eat under any other circumstance:

Drunk toast

As I was saying goodbye to some friends following one of my first bar visits after lockdown, I remembered drunk toast. I was excited to get home, slightly drunk, to eat a couple of slices of marmite on toast in bed. This should be the last thing before sleeping; there’s no need to clean your teeth after eating this as it’s much nicer to slump down the pillows and leave the plate by the side of the bed (and wake up at 3am to clean your teeth in a delirious state).

Chip-shop chips

Have to be eaten from the greasy paper they’re served in. I prefer a closed parcel to an open cone, because the chips get a more even coating of salt and vinegar and get nice and soggy when wrapped up. They should never be plated up and should always be eaten outside (ideally on a balmy summer evening).

Pizza

Any kind of pizza at home (takeaway, homemade or frozen) should also not be eaten from a plate. Chopping boards are best for homemade, the box holding a frozen pizza can be folded inside out to make for a perfect (and washing-up free) surface.

Roast dinners

Obviously have to be eaten at the table. Before we had a dinner table in our flat, it was the only meal we’d spend time moving furniture out of the way to transform my wobbly desk into a table; there was hardly room for the measuring jug of gravy between our plates. Not only are there many elements of a roast to mindfully assemble on your fork, roasts are also prone to causing indigestion (for me, at least) so sitting upright is more necessary.

Drive thru McDonalds

Must be eaten in the car, ideally while parked in the carpark; McDonalds does NOT travel well, and eating in the car is wonderfully nostalgic, it doesn’t matter if it makes the car smell. There are few greater pleasures than huddling in the back of the car with all the drinks balanced precariously between the front seats, with the rest of the car suddenly flooded with excess paper packaging and shreds of lettuce.