Monkey Fingers

The Nando’s obsession is over! Well, it’s not quite over: let’s just say it’s been usurped by an equally-addictive and gruesomely-unhealthy eaterie that goes by the name of Meat Liquor.

I’m not quite sure how to describe Meat Liquor. It’s part of a rising tide of restaurants all purporting to be the ‘all-American dining experience’: vying for business with the likes of Gourmet Burger King, Byron’s and Red’s True Barbecue (a hellish place where you are basically force-fed mounds of meat and have to lie down for at least an hour after to recover).

But back to Meat Liquor. The name itself conjures up images of shot glasses being filled with the slimy, fattening juices of a plumped-up Christmas turkey. In reality, it’s a stripped down burger joint that largely serves root beer and sticky chicken wings.

Once you’re in its greasy clutches, there really is no escape.

Let’s backtrack slightly. The husband and I have recently developed this weird weekend ritual. This is how is goes. We park up in Headingley at approximately 1pm on Saturday. We visit Salvo’s Salumeria for lunch, partaking in their pasta special (no one cooks a better pasta).

From there, we set off on foot into the city, occasionally – depending on the weather and levels of greed – buying an ice-cream en-route from the excellent Ecco Pizzeria.

The two-mile urban walk down Otley Road weaves its way past a number of intriguing locations. Just past the bustle of central Headingley and the famous Original Oak beer garden, there’s a strange place set back slightly from the road called Hinsley Hall. And in its grounds – just a stone’s throw from students staggering past on the Otley Run – are grazing horses. Yep, horses in Headingley! Who knew?!

We continue past a clutch of beautiful Victorian villas, which once stood grand in their heyday but have now been carved up and populated by students. It’s quite a sad old sight (spot the dejected husband!).

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But one road in particular Ashwood Villas – home to various University dons with its cobbled entrance and blooming gardens – has managed to retain some of its original charm (spot the happy husband!).

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Ambling past various vintage shops and hippy hangouts, the route cut through Woodhouse Moor (often mistakenly called Hyde Park, much to the annoyance of locals) and the public toilets that were converted into a curry house years ago (but let’s be honest, never really lost their public toilets feel).

Eventually, after a pitstop at Friends of Ham for a class of Malbec (a brilliant little city centre bar that probably deserves a blog all of its own), we pitch up at the purple-curtained entrance our old friend Meat Liquor (I’m not sure on the thinking behind the purple curtain but it does make you feel like you’re entering a lap dancing bar).

Down the stairs we go, where we are greeted by a big-bellied, bearded hipster, who the husband and I have long called Ageing Hipster.

Ageing Hipster always asks if we’ve booked a table. We never have, so he huffs and puffs a little bit and scrolls through his computer system, while over his shoulder all we can see scores of empty tables. (I think Meat Liquor must have some kind of policy of trying to make themselves more popular than they actually are – a dangerous strategy, which I fear could ultimately spell their downfall.)

Meat Liquor is a dark basement restaurant, set to a backdrop of red lights, canteen-style wooden walls, parquet flooring and poster print wallpaper, emblazoned – ironically – with mock headlines like ‘Veggies on the rampage’ and ‘Fury of meat mentalists’.

In the corner of the room, is another stab at irony: a shimmery-curtained DJ area, which wouldn’t look out of place in Phoenix Nights.

On the formica tables, are an array of back-to-basics condiments and kitchen roll, while in the background they pump out a selection of indie rock: anything from Ocean Colour Scene, Michael Jackson, Pet Shop Boys and Guns and Roses.

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The menu itself is a stripped-back selection of burgers, American-style starters and various slaws (incidentally, when DID coleslaw get shortened to slaw?) all served up on plastic trays, with not a knife and fork in sight.

But one thing Meat Liquor have fallen victim to is the horrendous new trend of unisex toilets, also trailblazed by Everyman cinema. Restaurant and bar designers please take note: women do not want to share their toilets with smelly, drunken men, who leave the toilet seat up and basically wee everywhere but in the toilet itself.

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Disorientating decor and terribly toilets aside, there’s only one reason the husband and I have continue to frequent the dimly-lit depths of Meat Liquor. And that is for their hot wings, aka Bingo Wings on the menu.

Quite simply, they’re the best hot wings in town. They come as a starter but the husband and I are so obsessed with them, we have contemplated having a set of hot wings as our starter and then another set as our main, the burger being merely an after-thought.

For weeks, we’ve been heading to Meat Liquor now, gorging on piles  of hot wings, washed down with lashings of root beer.

But then the other weekend, the waitress said: ‘If you like hot wings, why don’t you try our monkey fingers; they’re basically identical to hot wings without the bones!’

A boneless version of our favourite-ever dish? The husband and I thought this sounded ideal so we ordered a set of monkey fingers along with a set of standard hot wings – for safety measures, of course.

But when the monkey wings arrived, they weren’t like hot wings at all: they were great slimy tendrils of deep-fried gloop.

Being ‘monkey fingered’ has now become some sort of euphemism for ill-fated greed and excess.

And because they had the same sweet-sour taste as the original hot wings and we felt the need to persevere in our consumption of them, we ended the meal clutching our stomachs in disgust and swearing never to darken the door of Meat Liquor again.

But of course, we found ourselves back in the greasy lair only the very next week.

The Cockerel Has Crowed

It was always going to happen. No human can consume 70 Nando’s meals a year and come out unscathed.

Last Friday night, was the day I finally ‘turned’ on Nando’s.

Our weekly visit to Nando’s had started off well. Upon entry, usual protocol was followed: husband went to order meals (butterfly chicken medium for me/ half chicken medium for him, spicy rice, peri-peri chips and a side of halloumi, natch), while I collected cutlery, napkins and sauces (backroom Brenda).

The husband is also in-charge of the Nando’s loyalty card. We’ve earned about 10 red chillies now – the kind of top-level points that only come with a serious peri-peri habit.

For some reason though, the husband refuses to cash any of these loyalty points against a free meal. He likes to see the look of shock on the cashier’s face when he hands over the card. He wants the cashier to think ‘this guy is a serious player’.

The husband, on the other hand, claims his refusal to cash in his chillies is because he sees the Nando’s loyalty card as in insurance policy should we feel on hard times. If we go bankrupt, we can still treat ourselves for a meal out once a month for the lion’s share of a year. Also, he’s of the foolish opinion that accruing an abundance of chillies makes him one step closer to the coveted Nando’s Black Card. Dream on!

But when my butterfly chicken breast arrived, there was something horribly wrong with it. It was all pale, blubbery and seemed to be oozing copious amounts of water.

The waitress said she would get me another one. There was a long wait and when the new piece of chicken arrived it was even worse than the original one: this time, along with the blubbery wateryness, it was peppered with pink veins.

I was dealing with a bad batch of breasts! It was the fast food equivalent of the PIP scandal.

I went to get the manager and explain the problem. I wanted him to take me seriously so I took my Nando’s card with me.

‘I eat at least one butterfly chicken breast every week of the year,’ I said, proffering the loyalty card. ‘I know a bad breast when I see one. You only have to check our loyalty card to see how often we come here.’

The manager looked slightly out of his depth. Five minutes later, he returned with a chicken wrap.

‘I’m really sorry about that,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what was going on there. I’ve temped a few and I’ve binned a few, just to be sure.’

I was so busy hungrily tucking into my chicken wrap, I didn’t really catch what he said.

‘I think he said, ‘I’ve temped a few and binned a few?!” repeated the husband.

‘Which is a really weird thing to say. Why would he pop in the back and select a few breasts to randomly bin?!’

‘Surely if he’s going to bin them, he should bin the whole lot,’ I mused. ‘And what on earth is temping?’

I finished my wrap. Images of the blubbery chicken were still playing in my mind. I mouthed at the husband, ‘I think I’ve turned’.

It was only after that I wished I had taken photographic evidence of the blubbery, veiny breasts. Instead, you’ll have to make do with me clutching a bottle of peri-peri sauce and looking suitably doleful.

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‘I want to get out of here with the minimum fuss,’ I whispered. ‘Where’s the manager? I want to slip out without any more rigmarole.’

‘He’s nowhere to be seen,’ said the husband, glancing around. ‘He’s probably in the back, booting bad breasts’.

I’d half expected to see the manager pinning a sign up at the window saying ‘Sorry, no butterfly chicken here tonight’.

‘I doubt I’ll be darkening the doors of Nando’s EVER AGAIN,’ I said, dramatically.

The husband eyed me sceptically.

‘That’s a shame,’ he said. ‘Because we’ve now collected enough loyalty points for about 20 free meals.’

Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook

The husband was half-way through his dinner on Wednesday when he suddenly put down his knife and fork and uttered the words I’d been dreading…

‘I’ve turned.’

Approximately once a month, the husband ‘turns’ on one of the meals in my depleting repertoire of culinary creations.

Chicken stir-fry, for example, was once an absolute weekly staple and the husband was quite happily crunching his way through chinese leaves and noodles for about a year, before he suddenly announced mid-chew, ‘I’ve turned. Please don’t cook this ever again.’

When the husband ‘turns’ on a meal, it means he will NEVER eat it again. This could happen with any meal at any time at any place. The mere sight of it, he claims, would instantly make him sick.

What do people actually eat? As an 80s child, raised on Alphabites and frozen chicken kievs, I’m genuinely intrigued by how people manage to come up with four or five unique – and relatively healthy – meals a week.

When friends come over for dinner, I usually dish up a fail-safe concoction of pizza, pasta and potatoes. It’s become affectionately known as ‘the carb-overload’.

This is how my mid-week menu currently looks: Monday – pasta with pesto and tuna, Tuesday – fish cakes with cous cous. Wednesday – chicken with cous cous. Thursday – pasta with pesto and tuna – or cous cous. It’s little wonder that most of our sustenance comes from Nando’s at the weekend.

As you can see, cous cous is the star of the show in our household. This isn’t just any old cous cous, mind. It’s got the beaming face of Ainsley Harriott on the packet. Cous cous is really easy. You put it in a jug, add 200ml of hot water, give it a bit of a stir… and Ainsley’s your uncle.

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But I fear it’s only a matter of time before the husband turns on cous cous too. He’s already turned on the tomato and roasted vegetable flavours, which only leaves me with about two other options. Thankfully, trusty Ains – never one to rest on his laurels – has just released an intriguing new red onion and balsamic flavour, which has been given a tentative thumbs up from the husband this week.

Come to think of it, Ainsley’s gone a bit mad, in fact, and has branched out into a whole range of dried foods, including mushroom bulger wheat, lential dahl and vegetable spelt.

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Spelt and dahl? I think Ainsley might be having some sort of breakdown. I haven’t tried them yet; I took one look at the cooking instructions and they seemed too complicated – something about simmering for 15 minutes. Still, I’m fearful that old Ainsley’s bitten off more than he can chew. Over-expansion could spell his downfall.

Along with the aforementioned chicken stir-fry, other redundant dishes now include: salmon pasta parcels (turned), lamb tagine (turned after a ‘funny’ piece of lamb), and shepherd’s pie (turned – found a lump in the mash topping).

And did I mention that the husband doesn’t eat most fish, any vegetables, or any form of potato, unless it’s roasted or cooked as a chip?

Strangely though, he does have a passion for Muller Crunch Corners. Actually, it’s more of an addiction. He’s on at least one Muller Corner a day – Vanilla Choc balls being a particular fave – and if there’s none in the fridge, he gets irritable and twitchy. I’ve taken to buying the bad boys in bulk (Sainos is your place).

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Over Christmas, I over-stocked and there was a race against time to consume as many Muller Corners as we could before the impending sell-by date. My whole family were forced to consume at least two Corners a day before they went off. We even had to have a Muller Corner each on Christmas Day.

On Thursday, I went to Marks and Spark’s and randomly bought some lamb kebabs (they were on offer). I was a bit stumped on how to serve them so I dished them up with my old favourite… yep, you guessed it: cous cous!

This is what the husband was presented with after an arduous day at work.

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Let’s just say, I don’t think I’ll be appearing on Master Chef anytime soon.

About two years ago, a new shop called Cook Shop opened up the road. It basically offers up frozen ‘home-made’ meals for lazy, cook-shy fools like me, at inflated prices. For a while, I thought Cook Shop was the answer to everything. We chomped our way through the whole menu and then got a bit bored with it all.

I might have persevered if the ridiculously effeminate man who runs it wasn’t SO annoying. He greets me at the door like a long-lost friend, then follows me around the shop offering to help with my basket and asking if I want to sample one of his new desserts, in the most irritating voice imaginable. I want to hit him over the head with one of his frozen lasagnes.

Thank god for cous cous king Ainsley.

La Dolce Vita

It’s Friday night and the husband arrives home from work.

‘Are we going to the Thai?’ he says.

The local Thai has become a Friday night fixture. We go so often now that the woman who runs it has begun to giggle inanely when we set foot in the door. She foists free mango sorbet upon us, and throws in the occasional basket of complimentary prawn crackers. We’ve taken to bowing to her with our hands clasped as we leave.

‘We could go for a civilised meal at the Thai,’ I said.

‘Or… we could roam down to our local grubby Pizza Hut, snap up a £5 pizza each on their ‘Special 5′ deal, and eat it on a park bench.’

‘Pizza on a park bench!’ says hubby.

We’ve developed a new hobby of eating pizzas on park benches, walls – and even one of those yellow grit bins at the end of the road. It’s a lot of fun. Go and try it. There’s something reassuringly back to basics about shivering on street corners, chomping your way through a pizza that you’ve managed to procure for a mere fiver.

If it takes off, it could even be developed as some form of middle-class therapy: kind of reconnecting with your youth. And I suppose you could go the whole hog and wash it down with a bottle of Diamond White while you’re at it.

After a couple of drinks at the bar up the road (the giant dog was in situ again. It was Friday night after all; he’s almost a regular now), we wandered down to Pizza Hut to collect our pepperoni feasts.

We were greeted by a portly man of dubious hygiene, who grunted and then disappeared into the back to forage for our pizzas. He looked like Mr Twit.

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Our local Pizza Hut is basically a shed attached to the end of a row of shops, largely staffed by scruffy-looking students. It looks absolutely filthy and is probably over-run with rodents gnawing on left-over pizza crusts in the backyard. But when the pizzas only cost £5, you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.

We wandered up the road, sat on a yellow grit bin and started working our way through the two medium-sized feasts.

‘I think I’m going to have half here and then half back at home,’ I said.

‘It’s an interesting strategy,’ said the husband. ‘My only fear is that it will be too cold by the time you get home.’

‘Not if you close the lid in between each slice and contain the warmth,’ I said.

As we greedily chomped away, two police officers came strolling towards us.

‘Evening, officer,’ said the husband, in a terribly British voice.

‘Evening, officer,’ I chirped.

The policeman and policewoman didn’t return our greeting, choosing to stare at us curiously instead.

I don’t know what is about encountering a couple of bobbies on the beat that turns one into an extra from Midsomer Murders. When I see a police officer, I immediately transform into a blustering buffoon, convinced that I’ve got something to hide.

As the police officers eyed us suspiciously, I had to fight the urge to say, ‘There’s nothing to see here officers: just me and my double pepperoni pizza. We don’t want any trouble!’

The police officers moved on and we ambled home.

‘Did you know that Philip Seymour Hoffman was found with 70 bags of heroin in his apartment? 70 bags! ‘ mused the husband.

‘It’s very sad,’ I said.

‘I think he might have been my favourite actor in the last 20 years,’ added the husband.

‘Really?!’ I said. ‘In all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never heard you so much as utter the words Phillip Seymour Hoffman, let alone proclaim he’s your favourite-ever actor!’

‘If was found dead in an apartment, I’d probably be surrounded by 50 empty boxes of double pepperoni pizza,’ said the husband, sadly.

Back at the ranch, the husband chewed thoughtfully.

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‘Do you think that Pizza Hut tell people about the ‘Special 5′ deal or do you think they allow people to just stumble in and blindly order a medium-sized pizza for £9.95, knowing that they could get it for £5?’ pondered the husband.

‘I’ve no idea,’ I said. ‘But next Friday, let’s give it a go. We’ll go in pretending we don’t know about the deal and see what happens. And if hairy man keeps us in the dark about the deal, we’ll reveal all.’

‘Next Friday is Valentine’s Day,’ said the husband.

‘Even better!’ I said.

The Elusive Nando’s Black Card

Beckham’s got one; Jay-Z can’t live without his; Justin Timberleg’s in; and even scraggy-haired crooner Ed Sheeran’s somehow got his paws on one. I’m talking about something more exclusive than membership to Coutts and rarer than hen’s teeth themselves…

The Nando’s Black Card.

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Whisperings of its existence first surfaced on the web a few years ago but I’ve never heard of anyone outside of schleb circles being given one. It might even be an urban myth.

According to legend, owners of this exclusive card – also known as the High Five – can waltz into any Nando’s in the world, slip the card to the cashier (perhaps there’s even a secret handshake involved?) and receive unlimited food for free. There’s even a whole website dedicated to it.

In the heart of our local stomping ground of Chapel Allerton, a huge restaurant/ bar has just closed down. It’s a great venue: all glass fronted and on three levels. In its heyday it was called Angel’s Share and many a night was spent jostling glasses of wine, dodging doughy divorcees, and bumping along to Boogie Luv.

But despite the vintage bird wallpaper, great wine list and locally-sourced grub, its latest incarceration as a more high-brow eaterie called the Hummingbird just didn’t quite cut the mustard.

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The husband and I mulled over the sad demise of Angel’s Share/ Hummingbird with fellow Chapel Allerton-ers in the pub the other week. We came to the conclusion that it needed to attract a more loyal clientele – one that perhaps enjoyed spicy chicken, with a side of rice or fries, all drizzled in lashings of an addictive peri-peri sauce.

Basically, it needed to be a Nando’s.

By their second pint, the husband and friend Sam had decided, with 100 per cent certainty, that they were going to set up a franchise of Nando’s, right here on our doorstep.

‘We’re already spending £1500 a year on Nando’s,’ figured the husband, referring to our weekly addiction. ‘We might as well go the whole hog and buy a Nando’s. It’s the next logical step.’

The next morning, the husband hopped on the laptop to enquire about launching the all-new north Leeds leg of this spicy chicken success story.

But to his dismay, he found that Nando’s franchises weren’t an option in the UK.

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We pondered this problem for a whole.

‘I’ve got an idea,’ I said. ‘Perhaps we could still have a Nando’s business model but call it…’

‘…Nondo’s?!’ we both chimed at once.

I decided to write to Nando’s.

Dear Mr Nando,

My husband and I are weekly visitors to several of your establishments across Leeds, where we regularly enjoy a butterfly chicken breast and half-chicken respectively (with peri-peri salt fries, spicy rice, and an occasional side of halloumi).

Given our expertise, we feel there is a definite gap in the market for a Nando’s restaurant in Chapel Allerton, north Leeds, namely at the vacant premises formerly known as a the Hummingbird restaurant.

In return for this information and in light of the millions we believe you are likely to make, we are happy to forfeit our finder’s fee in exchange for one of your coveted Nando’s black cards.

Please send to the address above.

Yours Sincerely

I was about to hit send when my eyes fell upon ‘10 Things You Need To Know About The Nando’s Black Card‘.

I refer to point 8: ‘No-one who’s requested a card, no matter how politely, has ever received one. Asking for one is the biggest tattoo.

I immediately scrapped the letter.

But there is hope. Nando’s claims that anyone who can prove they’ve eaten in every restaurant across the world would receive free food for life.

I estimate we’ve visited 20 Nando’s across the UK.

Which means we only have another 1015 restaurants to go.

The Hunk at the Gym

After listening to Lipo Liza‘s woeful tales of extreme fat removal and dodging the advances of omnipresent Big Grey Man, it seemed only fair that I should finally get a new gym ‘buddy’ who was a bit easier on the eye.

My latest gym friend is a bit of a hunk – a young hunk, in fact – but with a beard. Yep, a beard. Not that weird goaty thing that Brad Pitt grew; I’m thinking more of a bristly Ben Affleck in the film Argo.

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You know when you catch someone’s eye several times by accident or suddenly clock that you’ve been vacantly staring at them for some time? That’s what happened with The Bearded One last month. I was on a cross trainer directly opposite him and realised I had been staring in his general direction for quite a while, as my legs peddled away.

I then started to think, ‘Oh no, MAYBE he thinks I’m staring at him because I fancy him. Which I don’t of course (having only eyes for the husband). Except now, I’m acting like I DO fancy him.’

My friend Andrea and I have a name for this: it’s called Toy Soldier Syndrome (the name is a long story). It’s basically where you become convinced that someone THINKS that you fancy them so you start acting flustered and coquettish around them – even though you definitely DO NOT fancy them at all (kind of a weird self-fulfilling prophecy).

After a few minutes, I stole a quick glance back at The Bearded One to ascertain the state of play. As soon as my eyes rested on his, he smiled straight back at me!

I went bright red.

The Bearded One then dismounted from his bike and, despite there being many available cross-trainers, he curiously stepped onto the one right next to me! I was so flustered that I hastily fled the cross-trainer completely, cheeks flaming. This silly non-event was made worse by the fact that the husband was obliviously lifting weights, just several metres away.

The following week, I whipped into Marks and Spencers at my usual gallop and was just striding purposefully towards a Super Whole Food Salad, when a voice said in my ear, ‘You won’t need a cross trainer to work that off!

Cripes… it was him. Bearded and besuited.

‘I’m on a healthy kick,’ I squeaked, immediately going a nice shade of beetroot. ‘I’m going on holiday tomorrow.’

‘Me too!’ he exclaimed, a youthful glint in his eye. ‘I’m going to Ibiza. My girlfriend’s parents have a boat there.’

Ah, a girlfriend. Phew.

‘I’m going to Croatia with my husband,’ I said, sounding like a prim housewife. And immediately thinking, ‘Oh no, he probably now thinks I’m some desperate old housewife with a crush on him.’

‘See you at the gym,’ he said.

‘Defo,’ I squeaked.

I scurried off to join the queue, scooping up a pack of Percy Pig sweets on the way.

I have a fairly serious problem with Percy Pig and Haribos. About twice a week, I purchase a pack at a petrol station or supermarket – and then gluttonously tip the whole lot into my mouth – in one go. I probably need to see a therapist – shortly followed by a dentist.

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I dashed to the car, clambered behind the wheel and before you could say ‘Super Whole Food Salad’, I had rammed the whole pack of Percy Pigs straight into my mouth – just in time for The Bearded One to be passing by.

He smiled at me through the car window in a slightly bemused manner and gave a departing wave. I attempted to smile back but my cheeks were bulging like a giant gerbil.

‘Oh great,’ I thought, ‘I just told The Bearded One that I was on a health kick and then he just saw me gorging on a bag of Percy Pig sweets in a most uncivilised manner.’

I vowed to have a month off from the gym.

The Crack Cocaine of Fast Food

The husband and I have a guilty little eating obsession that we’ve been keeping quiet about for some time. Like most addictions, it crept up on us slowly – a brief visit here and there if we happened to be passing.

But the lure of Nando’s neon rooster soon became too much. Before we knew it, we were bombing down there every Sunday to ravenously stuff our jowls with spicy chicken, licking our greasy fingers feverishly, as peri peri sauce dribbled down our chins.

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In the unlikely event that you’ve never entered its dark doors, Nando’s is basically a fast food restaurant that specialises in Portuguese-style chicken, accompanied by bottles of peri peri sauce, which range from mild to extremely hot. One hit and you’re hooked.

Some people go to Nando’s for a date night; some for a fun night with friends. But we visit Nando’s purely to get our fix. There is no element of enjoyment involved; like true addicts, we’re only interested in getting in there, feeding the addiction and getting out as quickly as is humanly possible.

Having to wait for a table is our worst nightmare. But we’ve developed a method that works quite well: the husband joins the queue to order, while I await a table allocation. Once seated, I text the table number to the husband, usually with the parting message, ‘Do what you need to do’.

There’s no need to go through the motion of pretending to look at the menu. We both know exactly what we want. And the beauty of Nando’s is that there’s no waiter interaction involved; better still, because you’ve paid upfront you can get the hell out of there as soon as the gorge is over.

Sometimes we don’t even speak to each other as we hungrily tuck in, swamping our chicken in hot peri peri sauce and shovelling spicy rice down the hatch at a revolting speed. At the end of the feast, we both sit in subdued silence, clutching our stomachs and fighting a rising sense of self-loathing, swearing that this really will be the last time we visit this rotten establishment.

But, of course, the next week we’re back.

The lengths that we will go to sate our peri peri craving are quite extreme. We’ve been know to travel 20 miles out of our way just to sink our gnashers into a medium-spiced half chicken. We were once forced to get a Nando’s takeout and eat it in our car, in a darkened alleyway. With our bare hands.

At my lowest ebb, I once sat on my own in a Nando’s in London gluttonously feasting on a double chicken wrap. At midnight. After downloading an app called Find My Nearest Nando’s. It was sick.

The addiction took a brief hiatus after a bad incident with a bottle of peri peri sauce. Disembarking at Leeds train station after a weekend away, we dragged our suitcases through the city centre with only one destination in mind. We had arrived just before closing, where one of the waiters was busy unscrewing the tops of the sauces to clean them.

Unfortunately for the husband, I happened to pick up one of the loose-topped bottles, which slipped in my greasy hands and did a rather dramatic somersault through the air, simulataneously showering the husband head to toe in peri peri sauce.

The poor husband had to travel home covered in sticky sauce. His suitcase stunk of it for weeks after. We had about a month off after that – swearing that this Really Was The End and that we were through with that place Once And For All.

That was, until a little voice started whispering ‘peri peri chicken, peri peri chicken’ and the cycle of gluttony started all over again. Going cold turkey on the Nando’s rooster was never going to last.

The husband might say, ‘What do you fancy for dinner tonight? I was thinking a little bit of chicken, a little bit of rice…’

‘Hmm… a little bit of chicken and rice – with perhaps a… spicy sauce?’ I’d reply innocently.

‘What could be the harm in that?’