Beef bourguignon, available to-go from Sid At The French Cafe. Photo / Supplied

Isolation Diaries: Eat Your Restaurant Takeaways With A Side Of Gratitude

Remember level four deprivation when you enjoy your next fried drumstick

This column appears one full day after the government’s relaxation of the rules around food takeaways and deliveries.

I hope your first mouthful of restaurant food tasted as good as you wanted it to taste — that you were able to maintain your mood of gratitude and reverence for the entire meal and that, in the future, you will remember your five weeks of level four deprivation, so that every fried drumstick you bite into might taste a little of yesterday’s joy that it wasn’t made by your own hand.

READ: Restaurant Takeaways In Level 3: Auckland's Best Eats For Pick Up & Delivery

“Conscious eating” is a genuine movement and I wish I was better at it. It’s easier to savour and appreciate a dish when you’re undistracted at your family dining table or in a restaurant, but so much of our eating now is unconscious — a daily sandwich, in my case, which takes longer to make than it does to eat, scoffed with my left hand over a laptop keyboard while my right hand writes notes on Jacinda’s 1pm briefing.

Luckily I get an appetite reset twice a week — the best thing about fasting is the next morning, when even an egg on toast tastes as good as Christmas dinner.

(It still feels strange to openly talk about fasting. When I first lost weight doing it a few years ago I asked Victoria “should I mention it publicly?” and she said “nah, you don’t want to be that guy”. And she was right; although it’s been normalised now, back then fasting had a reputation somewhere between the Baby Food Diet and drinking your own pee.)

Anyway, I’ve looked at all the level three menus and I think they’re going to taste good, even for the non-calorie-deprived. They range from the sturdy, comforting “even-you-can’t-mess-this-up” meals like the French Cafe’s Beef Bourguignon, to the presumably more volatile deluxe sashimi platter they’re offering to load into your boot at Cocoro (speaking of not wanting to be that guy, I’ve drawn a line at queuing for Farro, so fresh fish is one of the things I’m most looking forward to eating).

Then there are the restaurants who are treating level three as a chance to be very ambitious — to redefine what they do in order to bring their staff and business out of the pandemic in even better shape than when they went in.

READ: 30+ Speciality Food Stores Delivering The Goods

I happen to know that Lucien Law, the man behind Azabu, Ostro and others, has barely slept during lockdown, putting his giant hospitality brain to the greatest crisis Auckland restaurants have ever faced.

Like the prisoner who goes to sleep each night visualising the perfect round of golf then gets out and wins his first tournament, there’s a good chance Lucien has already mentally clocked Level Three and is on the verge of seeing the matrix.

I spoke to him right on my column deadline to wish him luck and ask if he needed anything. He thought for a moment and said: “Yeah. Ask Auckland Council if they’ll let me put some road cones outside our restaurants for pick ups. They haven’t returned my calls.”

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