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FoodThe Croft2022

The Evolution Of The Takeaway

In celebration of the takeaway's dominance in current food culture, Emily Fromant reflects on the evolution of the takeaway and its many contemporary forms.

By Emily Fromant, Co-Editor-In-Chief, Third Year English

The Croft Magazine // The significance of takeaway food in our lives has changed over the last few years. In the midst of the pandemic, our times of sitting down at restaurants were replaced with food deliveries, staying at home, and late-night Zoom calls. Though, yes, dining out is now possible, the vibrancy, variety and popularity of takeaway options does not seem dampened.

In fact, in Bristol – a city many know and love for its bustling food culture – it appears to remain a constant. In celebration of this, Emily Fromant reflects on the evolution of the takeaway and its many contemporary forms.

Why do we love takeaway food so much? As University students, it is a staple in our everyday lives. Its convenience is great for so many of us who are not used to organising dinner. Late-night conversations about the best Chinese takeaway dish or Dominos order, meanwhile, serve as a bonding experience many of us seem to share.

The concept of prepared food is an ancient concept. But food delivery didn’t come until much later. Market and roadside stalls selling food were common in Ancient Greece and Rome. In Pompeii, archaeologists have found several service counters opening onto the street which provided food to be taken away.

The first food “takeaways” takes place in Naples, Italy in 1889. King Umberto and Queen Margherita demand Faraele Esposito deliver them a pizza pie from Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi, now a legendary location. He agrees and food delivery is born. Sort of. Ever since then, the world’s love for the ease of takeaway food has grown and grown.

© Emily Fromant

There are 494 fast food takeaways in Bristol, and climbing, as more and more businesses, take advantage of food delivery. The options in Bristol for takeaway food are endless; think Chinese food, Thai, chain pizza takeaways, and family-owned kebab shops – and that’s only for starters. Muzzy’s kebab is a must-try, Siam Smile Thai food has kept me company on many a hangover. Falafel King, on the other hand, is the perfect stop after a night out.

Takeaway food is often demonized, many argue it is a huge contributor to poor health and diets of young people. Whilst I love takeaway food, its variation, and its opportunity to transport me to different places (despite being westernised), it can become a bit of a habit. Student life, its pressure and schedule can make convenience food an easy option. When pushed for time, or achingly hungover it can be so enticing to just order a delicious takeaway and save some time.

It is also important to note, takeaway food does not necessarily mean “unhealthy eating”. Takeaway food has managed to evolve from the concept of unhealthy food into healthy yet convenient meals. Today, certain takeaway concepts are betting on healthier and fresher local sourced ingredients while others are proposing vegetables as the main course or lowering salt content. Innovative micro cuisine franchises proposing regionalised menu options are also gaining popularity. There are some great “healthier” options for takeaway food in Bristol, from the Bowl Shed and its delicious fruit and vegetable juices to Greek salads and vegetable pittas. There is also a range of vegan options for anyone wanting to try something new.

© Emily Fromant

The turn towards fast food culture is emblematic of a lifestyle that we seem increasingly to share: one that is fast paced and accompanied by short attention spans that are frequently hungry for more. I don’t think that this way of living is necessarily a bad thing, but I do think it can make us neglect self-care, whether in the form of taking a walk, watching a movie, or taking the time to cook for ourselves. This is not me saying you shouldn’t have takeaway food, I’m not your mother. But I think there is something important to be said for preparing a meal for yourself; for chopping your onion, boiling your pasta, and savouring the product of your efforts. If not for the sake of self-care, it is a skill that we must all learn as we become adults for the sake of our wallets.

This is not to say that takeaway food cannot also be a form of care, though. Some of my best memories with my friends at university have occurred outside a kebab shop, and they are a consistent source of comfort in times of need. Ultimately, takeaway food is what you make it, and Bristol (of course) is the place to eat it.

Featured image: Emily Fromant

What are your favourite take aways in bristol? Let us know!