Why does food taste better in the open air?

(Or as the Italians put it so much better, al fresco). Maybe it's something to do with the enhanced taste or smell or something, but it sure makes a huge difference. Breakfast this morning in the sunshine in my back yard was so much better than normal because (a) it was sunny (b) I was outside and (c) it wasn't the usual wolfing down of a bowl of cereal in front of the tv news in five minutes that it normally is. (And I know I could get up half an hour earlier to sit and savour my cereal in comfort, but somehow the extra half hour snuggled under the duvet is far more appealing.)

But back to the food al fresco business. Yesterday was Friday, after a hard week at work. It was grey, dull, windy and cold (standard North of England spring evening, really) and we wanted something quick to eat, on the way to the flicks to see Kill Bill Vol 2. So we ended up at Bill's Fish Bar in Cullercoats, for fish and chips, mushy peas (for me) and curry sauce (for Rob). It's possibly the best fish and chips takeaway place in the Newcastle area (although you have to go to the Waterford Arms at Seaton Sluice if you want the best pub fish and chips). We had beautiful fresh fish, covered in a light batter, that just pulled apart in huge flakes, and proper fish and chip shop chips, doused in malt vinegar and salt. The only way to eat fish and chips is outdoors, or in your car overlooking the sea, with the windows gradually steaming up and obscuring the view. And with one of those strange little wooden fork/spoon devices, of course. Somehow, if you took fish and chips home and ate them it would feel sordid, greasy and horrible, but out there in the open air under lowering skies it feels like possibly the best meal in the world.


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