Fast food in Britain is defying the recession, with an estimated blah blah blah. Okay, that’s the science, now let's make some obvious jokes about pickled eggs.
Kebabs. Like video games, not being able to spot things in the fridge and constantly clearing their throats, this is pretty much an all-male domain. Usually drunk males. Usually men who are so drunk that they have at some point in their lives staggered through the plate-glass window of BHS and tried to order one from a mannequin in the mistaken belief they were in a kebab shop.
When in need of some skewer-based refreshment, gauge how hungry you are: if you really can’t wait eight minutes for one of the chicken doners, get the cheapo lamb one off the spit instead. It will have been there all day, going round and round for reasons no-one has ever fathomed, but it will at least be instant.
Oh, and remember to ask for “just a LITTLE chilli sauce”, even though the guy will give you loads. It keeps him amused. Oh, and you also get a lemon. First timers, be prepared for it.
Chinese. If you’ve missed the previous day’s edition of The Sun, these are a great place to catch up on it, or at least half the sports section or the travel section. You won't get the whole thing. No-one knows where it's gone. Some assorted junk mail and free local magazines will also have been put out for your entertainment. They’ll be more than enough as they can cook any dish within four minutes.
There will also be a telly, which will always be showing Family Fortunes. It’s the law. There might be a traditional scene on the wall, eg a heron standing on one leg in a river (where’s the other leg, heron? Not so clever). Enjoy.
Indian. The old joke is that who’d want to go to an Indian restaurant and order the omelette (NB omelettes are usually an option on the menu)? This is a misconception about fast food in Britain as the Indian staff are all out the back, eating them themselves. They can’t get enough of them.
Waiters in Indian restaurants specialise in sounding disappointed at the brevity of your order. Whatever you ask for, they will then say: “Is that all?” You can almost hear them sighing: “He’s made me get my pad out and he doesn’t even want nan bread, for *!%*’s sake.”
And however hard you try to be clever and pretend you know the Indian beers, whichever one you ask for, they will say they have the other one. “Do you have Kingfisher?” “We have Cobra.”
As with the chill sauce in the kebab shop, this is just something they do to mess with your head for their own amusement. Just look at the other diners: they actually sell both.
The businesses are often called China Garden but no-one knows why. Maybe people in China eat Chinese takeaways in their gardens.
It’s a strange fact of ordering fast food in Britain that you’re not allowed to enjoy your fish and chips fully so they give you small wooden forks which make spearing chips okay but cutting up the fish impossible.
And the rainforests have been deleted precisely because they wrap the fish and chips so many times in paper. You get to go and look at the fish in their glass cabinets, like some fat German businessman eyeing up the girls in a Thai brothel.
Sadly, here you do not get the option of buying them a very expensive drink while the fish sits on your lap and you tell it that your wife doesn’t understand you.
As for the chips, well, picture delicious, crisp fries from McDonald’s. Now imagine stamping on them, putting them in water for an hour, then letting your dog chew them for a bit – there’s your chips, sunshine. Go for the pickled egg or maybe a gherkin for the full British fast food experience.
For some reason, fish and chip shops are really competitive, to the point of seeming a bit neurotic and lacking in self-esteem. They're always banging on about being the "best fish and chip shop in the town/region/world", and often display a photo of some celebrity of Chris Rea/Letitia Dean level visiting the shop, presumably in the middle of some journey that has gone wildly off track due to a satnav meltdown.
How their fish and chips can be that much better than everyone else's is a mystery, unless they have their own private bit of the English Channel that is roped off for them and their superior fish-breeding techniques.
Burger/chicken joints. These establishments are an omnipresent feature of fast food in Britain. They’re extremely popular with the nation’s chaverati, who have eschewed the effort of cooking at home in favour of consuming poultry pieces from a box and then casting aside their meaty treat on the pavement (“urban wishbones”).
These businesses often have strange Americanised titles, notably with Texas in the title, as if the Lone Star State has the monopoly on mastication of our feathered friends. A lot are also called the ever-bizarre Chicken Cottage, conjuring up some refuge for avian victims of domestic abuse, now living together in a peaceful commune.Tweet