Anorak | Real meals: Will Self eats fast food like a middle class writer would

Real meals: Will Self eats fast food like a middle class writer would

by | 9th, February 2012

WILL Self has penned an article in The Times about “Real Meals” – “the ready meals, buffet snacks and — most importantly — fast food that Britons chomp upon in the go-round of their often hurried and dyspeptic lives.”

Can it be the antidote to Alex James’s posh boy take on the fast food industry?


It occurred to me that the whole McDonald’s experience had been enriched by our awareness of healthy eating, becoming a communal exercise in chomping through false consciousness. It made me suspect that the entire McLibel business, Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me had been secretly funded by the corporation to impart the pleasing flavour of guilt to its comestibles.

But what — I hear you cry — did your succulent juicy beef, your Emmental cheese and your toasted, stone-baked ciabatta actually taste like? To which I can only reply: the same old shit.

Pizza Express:

To sit in Pizza Express eating a pizza is to partake in a mystic communion with the cosmopolitanisation of the British bourgeois in a way that no other chain-restaurant experience quite achieves.


What does it taste like? I managed only one bland watery corn on the cob, a few fries, and one piece of chicken. I’d been given two breasts — at least, I think they were chicken breasts, they might have been the buttocks of superannuated Indonesian child labourers.


In our family mythology Nando’s is associated with gun battles, because of the afternoon we went to eat at the branch on the Uxbridge Road and found it completely sealed off by police crime-scene tape…I can’t help thinking that the episode was a bizarre prefiguring of things to come; after all, what have the past ten years brought us, if not the spectacle of the British economy behaving like a gangster full of extra-hot chicken, riddled with bullets and crashing into the entire property market — reckless bravado, indeed.


Until Paul has secured market saturation, elbowing out Greggs and even taking down Subway, it will remain the thinking man’s bakery.

Yo! Sushi:

I love the conveyor belts at Yo! Sushi — love them rather more, I suspect, than the food they convey.


at the counter £7.80 seemed a perfectly reasonable price for soup, sandwich and juice — but now they were gone I thought, Hm, some people have to live on that sum for a fortnight … and then my eyes slid right to where the woman’s newspaper now shouted: “KILLER MUM GAVE SON DOMESTOS”.

If you like that, you can buy: The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Prawn Cracker: A selection of Real Meals, an e-book by Will Self (Penguin, £1.99). If you don’t like that, you probably just like Pret A Manger…

Posted: 9th, February 2012 | In: The Consumer Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink