The restaurants are closed, the supermarkets are depleted. You would get a takeaway but frankly, since your freelance work dried up, that's an extremely unwise idea. 'Never mind', you think, 'I'll make a big nutritious vegetable curry which will last three days.' Think of all the vitamins and nutrients you'll absorb now you're living off veg and brown rice, you tell yourself smugly, making a mental note to plant spinach and beetroot in the garden this weekend. This could even be fun!
Three days into self-isolation and literally who can be arsed to chop another fucking onion. You thought about making a tuna salad thing, but your housemate finished off the dregs of the leaves and you've been too busy bingeing House of Cards to cook anything that lasts. Never mind. There are hot cross buns and Quorn sausages in the freezer. You cook them, slather them in Marmite and margarine, then eat them with your hands in bed. Who cares? No one can see you.
Self-isolation during a global pandemic brings out the weirdest in all of us. And seeing as cooking our own meals every day is something we're having to do without fail, it makes sense that, for some of us, those meals aren't always going to be worthy of humblebrag Instagram stories. To that end, we asked a bunch of people to send in their most fucked up self-isolation meals. And by "fucked up", we mean the kind of meals you thought you left behind in uni halls in 2009.
CAESAR SALAD AND GOLDFISH CRACKERS
Well, you start with whatever lettuce you have in your fridge that is about to turn. Chop it up a little for consistency and presentation (it's the little things that separate us from the animals during these trying times). Then you use a combo of caesar dressing and ranch dressing. The reason for the ranch is odds you didn't have enough caesar left to properly dress the salad. From there take the canned Parmesan cheese you typically reserve exclusively for pasta, dump a literal fuck ton on your salad to spruce it up. Add freshly crushed black pepper to taste.
Once that is all done, simply add a handful of Goldfish crackers to the top of your salad. Don't spread them around, just put them all in once place, no need to show off at this point. This salad is best served out of the mixing bowl you made it in (save dishes).
Taste was actually not too bad, I would eat it again. The Goldfish really elevated the flavour profile of the dish. — GH, 31
BISCUITS AND SALT ON TOAST
One slice of slightly stale brown Hovis medium sliced, one healthy slathering of original Flora and one refrigerated dark chocolate McVities digestive. Refrigerated you ask? Not for the sublime but subtle crunch of chilled chocolate, but because we currently have an ant infestation so the fridge is the only safe place for opened goods. Then add a crack of sea salt (I think the salt we have is from the sea but who the fuck knows) to serve.
In terms of taste: yes, it was dry. Yes, the staleness of the bread was not great, but it was also a perfect combination of salty and sweet, especially with the added salt and the savoury notes of the biscuit. I was keen to crush the biscuit in a way so as to ensure the optimum biscuit to bread ratio – each bite contained a chunk of biscuit – which helped to mask the flavours.
I’ve been craving Nutella on toast with salt since I’ve been working from home (it was my go-to breakfast at the east London startup I used to work at before I was made redundant on Friday) and we didn’t have any Nutella, so this was the closest thing. — Matthew, 27
BABYBEL AND QUORN HAM "SALAD”
So, er, here we've got a Babybel and Quorn ham "salad”, washed down nicely with a cold can of Red Bull for lunch. What I recommend is eating half of the Babybel first, drinking a sip of Red Bull to cleanse the palate and then wrapping the remaining Babybel in the Quorn ham, with the leaves squished in between. That way, you get a lot of textures and flavours all at once. The saltiness of the ham really offsets the mildness of the cheese and the slight crunch of the leaves just tops it all off. I'd like a bit of ketchup to go with it, but I'm self-isolating and can't go to the shops. — Emily, 24
LINDA MCCARTNEY'S FROZEN BAKE, SAUSAGE ROLL AND CHEESY CHIPS
What you’re looking at there is a frozen Linda McCartney bake, sausage roll and cheesy chips (previously frozen of course, I’m not literally eating frozen sausage rolls like an animal. Give it a week though). This was dinner last night. I covered it in sweet chilli sauce, which took the whole thing up to a strong 7.5 out of 10. I usually just eat pasta. I can leave you to use creative license on that one! — Rach, 27
NAAN PIZZAS AND CHEDDAR
This is one naan bread, three tablespoons of chilli and garlic tomato sauce, grated cheddar, olive oil and a few leaves of basil. Lay the naan on a lined baking try and pour on three tablespoons of sauce. Spread it around and sprinkle over the cheese. Delicately place your basil on top and drizzle over a little olive oil. Bake in the oven (200 degrees celsius fan) for about 7 minutes until the naan is crispy and the cheese has melted. This is very loosely based on a Nigella express recipe lol. She uses fontina cheese and dried mushrooms. Surprisingly it works. It's a bit like homemade pizza in minutes, with a soft texture and a gentle spice. – Jack, 27.
PLAIN NOODLES IN THE SHAPE OF A DUCK
I think I wanted something duck themed that day. I ordered a duck tray online and just kept thinking about ducks. And then I just looked at what I had in the fridge and threw some noodles together to make it look like a duck and cut some seaweed and baby carrot. Then I dug around for whatever else I had to make a rainbow. I started being isolated a little earlier than usual, so I wanted to try new things. — Susanna, 28
WAFFLES AND HOT SAUCE
This is my "lunch”. This delightful isolation recipe involves three potato waffles, a pinch of blitzed black peppercorn and Cholula hot sauce. Best shoved in the toaster for maximum speed of delivery, they're a real treat. I haven't eaten these since my early twenties and they're just as good as I remember. Drizzled the hot sauce for some sophistication (I'm 28 now), but still a real throwback. – Ryan, 28
FISH FINGER PEOPLE
This is Birdseye fish fingers, McCain potato smiles and the finest Aldi beans. I always swore this recipe would go with me to the grave. – Jayne, 42