Tanya Gold Tanya Gold

Sub-ready-meals of salt and tears: Simply Cook reviewed


Welcome to the sunlit uplands which, for me, contain small plastic tubs of stock, which is just the opening to the year I wished for. Even local restaurants are closed for takeaway now and I cannot face my husband’s excellent British cooking (roasts, stews, pies, like a speaking Regency cookbook). When each day is Christmas Day its lustre declines; it is like being bored and rich. I should not have ordered two ribs of beef for three people. Even Virgil Dog is off beef now, and that is disgraceful.

So I subscribe to Simply Cook, a bestselling meal kit that is delivered by post. We are in danger of existing by post, and I am taken in with a pretty website and the promise of that which is lost: spurious variety. They suggest Bombay Biryani and Chicken Makhani in pictures; Crispy Chilli Beef and Nasi Goreng. I usually know to ignore restaurants with pictures of food outside but, drugged with the rural middle-class experience of pandemic, which is shameful and soporific, because all I have to do is get dressed and not move, I forget this and order six boxes of food.

I obviously do not read the blurb, because I am expecting food. Instead I receive recipe cards with pretty pictures of food, homilies, and plastic tubs of stock. So I go to the Co-op, which is both boring and frightening, including existential crises as it does, to buy the rest of the food demanded by the recipe cards. I return home and stare at tubs of stock. I already have a spice cupboard and my husband made beef stock from the ashes of the Christmas beef. It is in the fridge waiting to become onion soup. I despise myself. Perhaps Simply Cook is exploiting that neurosis.

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