What a day. What a happy day, what a great day of happy meals — the first day of freedom from the joyless confines of alert level 4 lockdown will go down in history as one of the greatest days in the history of the New Zealand appetite.
Alert level 3 has given us back the best food there is: Fast food, assembled by some humans and many robots in the sweatshops of the franchise kingdom.
McDonald's, KFC, Texas Chicken, Domino's ... all the glittering names, all back in business yesterday.
A nation rejoiced. A nation filled its boots. A nation finally quit baking.
There have been very, very few heartening or beautiful photographs of New Zealand life these past five mean weeks but the images of cars lining up in the 5.30am dark at McDonald's drive-throughs were like gazing at works of art. Bravo to those heading the queue. Their story will be passed down through generations: "Granddad, tell us about the time you were the first man in New Zealand to order a Big Mac after the time of plague and thus symbolised the restored hopes of the nation."
The rest of us waited for the national stagecoach — Uber Eats — to bring the happiness to our doors. I spent the whole day eating fast food. It's the best I felt since I was in my pomp as the man who ate Lincoln Rd, in 2016, when I ate at each and every one of the 55 food joints on that golden stretch of road in Henderson.
This time, I was Mohammed; the mountain came to me, with its dainty little parcels in brown paper bags.
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For breakfast, a Bacon and Egg McMuffin with Hash Browns. What delicacies! And what a dreamy psychic state. To eat McDonald's is to experience the memory of every McDonald's meal you have ever eaten. They all taste the same; they all return you to a kind of virtual reality, like The Matrix, where there is no such thing as time and space, only an endlessly repeated pattern of a Bacon and Egg McMuffin with Hash Browns.
Also, it's an awesome meal. For lunch, a Thai chicken wrap and a Tank C (pineapple, lemon, orange) drink from Tank.
The thing about Tank is that it's fresh food. It doesn't have the nuanced appeal of chemically mutated additives but it still tastes good — and the mere sight of the wrap's fillings filled me with awe, because every leaf told a story of someone who owned the farm, someone who picked it, someone who drove it in a truck to Tank. I was eating New Zealand back to work, getting things going.
Also, it was delicious. But the best meal of the day was dinner. I had fish and chips. Fish and chips! The nation's sweetheart, its mojo, its flag with salt on it. I ordered from Auckland's best fish and chip shop — LJ's Seafood, in Henderson — and two juicy battered fillets of snapper swam to the door.
Beautiful. Every mouthful was making New Zealand great again.
We're back. We're eating food someone else has cooked. We're all good again, basking in the light of the golden, golden arches.