This vs That Food

The toss up between dining out or ordering in

Happy couple having romantic dinner in restaurant. Happy Valentine day concept  

A restaurant dinner is a compelling promise of good things to come. A joyous collusion of creative chefs, skilled staff and enthusiastic diners. It is the best kind of theatre, where romances are kindled and community ties are forged.

Dinner on the couch is a wilted compromise in a plastic bag. It’s what we do when a pandemic is raging, and have no choice but to eat a meal as defeated as our dreams for 2020.

Sure, this is the year of eating in. Of home made sourdough, banana bread and a growing pile of dirty dishes leering from the sink.

Night after night, instead of the frisson of excitement that comes from strapping on high heels and heading out to a bar in a burst of perfume and anticipation, we stay home in ratty pyjamas, spooning fried rice out of plastic containers, under the cat’s malevolent gaze as he resentfully wonders just how much longer we plan to occupy his couch.

As any chef will tell you, food is best eaten straight out of the kitchen. The Cantonese ‘wok hei’ translates to “breath of the wok,” that unctuous, smoky, searing deliciousness imparted to food tossed over a flaming-hot fire, and served immediately.

Besides, dining is about more than just food. Restaurants are places of refuge from the tedious predictability of everyday life. They are projects of passion, where chefs spin a seductive alchemy of ingredients, powered by skilful technique and childhood memories.

These meals trigger conversations, tackling issues of food waste, sustainability and bio-diversity. These restaurants knit together communities, and fuel movements.

Sure, you can watch it all on Netflix over wilted pizza. But I’ll take real life over soggy French fries any day.

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Most people like their steak medium-rare. I like mine in bed, while I am propped up against a pillow, in comfortable night clothes with my hair in a messy knot and Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Now, can you do that at a restaurant? Forget that, at this point can you even enter one? So, delivery is my knight in shining armour.

Everybody loves options. Feel like tacos, mushroom soup and khow suey on the same night? Just move those fingers and place your order. And it all comes to you without even having to go from one restaurant to another. Most importantly, it eliminates that cringe-worthy situation when you have to request for that last kebab to be doggy bagged.

Take away doesn’t require prior commitment. No hassle of booking tables, driving through traffic, wondering if there is valet service. And God forbid if you want a drink, that then requires elaborate planning to book a cab driver. You get dressed, wait for Uber/Ola, and answer queries — like it’s an intense game of 20 questions — about drop location and ‘cash ah-card ah?’. Worst of all, at the last minute, you could get a message informing your ride is cancelled. Do we really need that, especially after a long day at work?

You might argue dining out is great to catch up with friends and get dressed. Sure, but I can still do all of it, right from home, on a video call, with my meal safely seated next to me.

I probably digest food better because this way there is no tension of my fellow diners finishing the main course before I even get started.

When it comes to food, Priyadarshini Paitandy is deeply influenced by Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) and Joey (FRIENDS)

In this column, we pit two icons against each other

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 2:58:51 AM |

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