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Speedy Delivery

January 3, 2011

The comforts of home aren’t lost on me.  Sure, sometime it’s nice to dress up and go out and see people.  But other times you just want to eat in your cozy socks, with no smiling, cheerful waiter to get in between you and your food.

I don’t have to tell you the reasons people order in.  It’s a national obsession.

What kills me is that to a large extent the kinds of food we choose to get delivered or bring home are the ones that suffer most from the trip.  This really struck me after my post on A Very Jewish Christmas.  When I wrote about Chinese food, not once did I mention take-out.  Yet, in discussing local restaurant options it became apparent that for some people Chinese food is inextricably linked to take-out.

I know that Chinese take-out is a thing.  But for the most part it is not a thing that I do.

Primarily it’s because I really like noodles and dumplings.  I also like fried things.  Scratch that.  I also love fried things.  And all of these marvelous morsels completely wilt within the steaming confines of their take-out containers.

Sometimes, rarely, you will find a place that properly vents their take-out cartons so food doesn’t steam.  But even still these containers have their problems.

The thing that really struck me was hearing people evaluate a kitchen’s food based on the quality of the take-out experience.  You just can’t do that.  If you enjoy eating a restaurant’s food at home, more power to you.  But you can’t say that a place has bad dumplings because the ones you got delivered weren’t up to your standards.

Even things that travel and reheat well are subject to degradation.

There was the time I bought a whole brisket from Capital Q to drive down to Connecticut.  Sean Custer came out and proudly presented his work.  Then he slapped his hand upon it and said, “Right now, it’s perfect.  From here on out, it’s only getting worse.”

And that’s barbecue.  I’m hard pressed to think of a hot food that holds better than barbecue.

The food most people get delivered is pizza.  Pizza!  Asking for a pizza to be delivered is asking for bad pizza.  This is a food that is cooked in special ovens that are impossibly hot to insure a crisp crust.  Regardless of how well a crust is cooked, it doesn’t stand a chance once it’s cut, put in a cardboard box, and hauled across the street (much less across town).

I enjoyed some remarkable pizza in Troy a while back. The first slice I had, moment after it came out of the oven, was heavenly.  My second slice from the same pie already was showing serious signs of deterioration.

Yes, not all delivery pizza is created equal.  The Tournament of Pizza demonstrates this fact year after year.  But as a rabid fan of the Pizza King in Schenectady, I can tell you quite authoritatively that eating a slice in the restaurant is significantly better than getting it delivered.

So please, if you love food, try and get out of the house.  I promise you, it’s worth it.

And if you don’t get out of the house, I understand.  It’s cold outside. Just recognize that the food you are eating is merely a shadow of what it was when it came out of the kitchen.  Some savvy ordering on your part can minimize the damage, but that sounds like a topic for another time.

For now, just stay away from getting noodles, dumplings, fried things and pizza to go.
Ok, you can still get pizza, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2011 1:28 pm

    I have been struggling for years to get the word out to young people about how awesome it is to have food delivered to their home.

    Unfortunately, I have had little success.

    What can you say, kids are stupid.

  2. Mirdreams permalink
    January 3, 2011 6:29 pm

    My problem with Capital District’s delivered foods isn’t how they suffer in transit but how few options there are that deliver. I understand why (distances in our area being what they are) but I miss NYC where you could get just about anything delivered to your door at just about any time of day. I want crepes, I want Thai, I want sushi, I want options. I can have pizza, Italian subs or Chinese and that’s it. At least Ala Shanghai delivers, maybe I should see how soup buns travel.

  3. January 3, 2011 6:32 pm

    I recently tried delivery Pho from Van’s. I was apprehensive at first, but my guy assured me that Van’s packs all the bits–broth, veg add-ins, noodles, sauces, raw beef– into separate containers for home assembly.

    It worked really well. The only thing I can see being tricky is if there was a long delivery time and the broth cooled, but a quick reheat to make sure it’s hot enough to cook the meat wouldn’t be hard nor degrade the flavor much, methinks. It certainly opened up a world of sick-girl delivery possibilities for me, since sick me loves eating pho, yet hates leaving the couch or wearing something other than pjs and fuzzy socks.

  4. Elyse permalink
    January 4, 2011 12:10 pm

    Mirdreams, you are spoiled. I actually think that the delivery options in Albany are pretty good. In Seattle the only thing you can get delivered is pizza. And it is lousy pizza.

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