Gone are the days when “getting a takeaway” meant grabbing one of three leaflets pinned to the fridge, ringing a restaurant and slowly reading out your card number. Now, you just have to pluck an idea out of thin air – Waffles! Sushi! Bao Buns! – and after a few clicks it’ll be at your front door. All you need to do is look at your phone and it’ll take the money from your card. What a life.
I can’t be the only person whose passion for takeaways got dangerously out of hand over the lockdown period. Without the presence of other vices, takeaways have become a balm for all ills. Feeling tired? Get a takeaway! Feeling sad? A takeaway! Feeling bored? That’s right, another takeaway! The serotonin I receive from unwrapping those hot little paper parcels full of greasy goodness has, on many occasions, kept me from spiralling – although I cannot say the same for my bank balance.
All of this got me thinking: how many takeaways have I consumed in total since the 23rd of March, 2020, when the first UK lockdown was announced? It must have been a lot, surely. But is my number really so bad? How does it stack up against my colleagues? How much have we all consumed, collectively? And what about our go-tos? Is everyone else also ordering crepes at 11PM?
With the above in mind, I decided to calculate how many takeaways I’ve consumed since the first lockdown, and which one I’ve opted for the most, before asking my colleagues to do to the same. Here’s what I found out:
DAISY JONES, UK ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Amount of takeaways: 40.
Most regular choice: Various starters from Hattush in Honor Oak Park, south-east London.
Why it’s been your go-to: My favourite thing to do, of an evening, is to order a bunch of hot and cold starters from Mediterranean and Turkish restaurants. I skip the main meal options. They’re too expensive, and starters are more fun. Prawns. Falafel. Cacik. Tarama. A little shepherd's salad. That specific type of cushiony, chargrilled bread you only really get in Turkish and some Mediterranean restaurants and supermarkets. Anyway, Hattush is by far the best in my area. They mix their king prawns with cream, garlic and white wine, and wow, *chef's kiss*. When I spoon it all onto the bread and eat it like a “deconstructed sandwich”, I experience a sense of contentment unrivalled by any other means.
EMMA GARLAND, UK CULTURE EDITOR
Amount of takeaways: 56, across three apps lol (the true amount is probably double, because my boyfriend will have ordered a load as well, but let’s ignore that).
Most regular choice: New Hing Dragon in Hither Green, south-east London.
Why it's been your go-to: Scoping out the takeaway scene of your local area is much like dating, in that it involves a lot of trial and error, some bitter disappointments and occasional gagging, but once you find “the one” your life is forever changed. You can’t go wrong with a humble Chinese takeaway, and for my money New Hing Dragon is the king of SE London. Consistently good, vast vegan options (I'm on a stir fried tofu with ginger and spring onions hype currently), free prawn crackers. The business. Plus, they give you a generous TEN spring rolls as standard, which means I always have some leftover to put in the freezer and demolish on a hangover at a later date. It just really sorts you out; I’ve yet to host a germ whose arse their veggie hot and sour soup has not kicked.
NANA BAAH, UK STAFF WRITER
Amount of takeaways: 94
Most regular choice: McDonald's.
Why it's been your go-to: Most of the time, a McDonald’s delivery is an earth-shattering disappointment. The drink has spilled from being knocked about on the back of a motorbike, and is, of course, beginning to seep into fries that are neither crisp nor salty enough to qualify as chips anymore. But when it’s good, it mops up sadness – and eating fistfuls of fries is perfect for when you’re feeling particularly hopeless. So, during a year of constant disappointment, I clung onto the hope that if I kept chipping away at my overdraft and ordering from the golden arches, finally the stars would align and I would have an enjoyable McDonald’s. That the Quarter Pounder would in fact have no pickles in it, the cheese would stay firmly inside the bun, the Coke would remain sickly and syrupy and fizzy, and, most importantly, the fries would still be hot by the time they got to my doorstep.
HELEN MERIEL THOMAS, UK SENIOR SOCIAL EDITOR
Amount of takeaways: 33.
Most regular choice: Gadz Cafe or Pizzeria Pappagone in Finsbury Park, north London.
Why it's been your go-to: My go-to takeaways in lockdown have been the Middle Eastern Gadz Cafe and Pizzeria Pappagone, both legendary institutions of Finsbury Park. A heartwarming north London cliche, Gadz Cafe is Jeremy Corbyn-themed, with four pictures of Jez in a love heart on the front of the building. Like the great comrades they are, they always send me free baklava and flatbread with each order, and enough hummus, falafel and salad to swell my stomach to epic proportions for less than £10. Kings.
My other favourite, Pappagone's (photographed below), would be your standard stonebaked pizza takeaway joint were it not for their unparalleled Good Vibes and their insane aubergine parmigiana pizza. Slices of aubergine breadcrumbed and deep fried with a parmesan crust, on white dough. Sometimes I add artichokes, for a laugh.
HATTI REX, UK ASSOCIATE SOCIAL EDITOR
Amount of takeaways: 39, which is a lot less than I thought I would have had, tbh.
Most regular choice: Sawasdee Thai restaurant on Mare Street in Hackney, east London. I get the same thing every time: tofu red curry, coconut rice, veggie spring rolls, occasionally an iced tea if I'm feeling fancy.
Why it's been your go-to: Early last year, I realised this place both cooks and delivers my order in about 15 minutes, as opposed to Fortune Cat, which always arrives late and cold (in my personal experience!!!). I've taken a risk on too many new takeaways to truly be arsed for anything else.
RYAN BASSIL, UK ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Amount of takeaways: 34 (not including takeaways ordered over the phone or picked up in person).
Most regular choice: Roosters Piri-Piri. I go for a chicken burger (hot, no tomato), chips (peri salt), Fanta.
Why it's been your go-to: Memories of eating at McDonald’s often cause my stomach to rumble. However, the winner of my lockdown takeaway voyage is Roosters Piri-Piri. Compared to the golden arches (six meals), The Athenian (three) and the kind of takeaways that look nothing like their pics, this chicken joint actually feels mildly healthy. Previously a cheap Nando’s knock-off that seemed to be the go-to spot for students looking to get their lemon-and-herb fix, it feels like it’s gone through a rebrand in the past few years and is now a serious competitor on the peri-peri takeaway circuit (or maybe I've just noticed healthy food more).
Good shit: their peri-peri salt is a little bit sweet. Nothing seems to be fried. It’s fresh. Even better shit: they operate a Deliveroo-only operation five minutes down the road from my house, so it transitions from phone to gob in something like 15 minutes or less.
Total takeaways consumed: 296 (or approximately one takeaway between us every 1.2 days). Which doesn’t seem that crazy until you look at that number properly and think about what 296 takeaways would actually look like, visually, filling an entire room, chips and burgers and noodles and naan breads and tofu pieces and pizza slices just everywhere, overflowing. Yum.