Technology is changing the way we do business, but it is also changing our daily habits. Eating lunch is one example. In the good old days, if we were swamped with work, we might remain at our desks and nibble tuna fish sandwiches from a paper bag. Later, when food carts took to the streets, we could have opted to wait in line for a steaming burrito.
Happily, today, the menu for desktop lunches has grown exponentially. Given the advances in food delivery, a desk lunch might include escargot and caviar.
Pizza used to be the only hot food that could survive a half hour transport across town. What’s changed is technology. These include atmospheric containers to keep the food warm for longer periods of time, or trucks mounted with ovens that prepare food en route. (“Farm to Desk” by Elizabeth Dunn, Bloomberg Businessweek, Feb. 4, 2019, pgs. 55-57.)
But wait! There’s more. Not only do these new containers and appliances keep meals warm, they also preserve flavor, no matter how long the traffic jam. This new delivery system requires two types of expertise: equipment designers for the new age and street mappers with a minute-to-minute knowledge of traffic conditions, enough knowledge to make a London Taxi driver drool.
Needless to say, today’s caterer needs more than the ability to float a milk leaf on the top of a latte.
Still, one has to consider the trade-offs this new lifestyle imposes. Do we really want to lose a lunch hour with good companions, laughing over plates of spaghetti and cooing at pictures of a friend’s new baby? And what about those restauranteurs who spent hours choosing the décor for their establishment — the tablecloths, the chairs, the flocked wall paper. Was all that for naught?
Call it nostalgia, but I’d never trade a rendezvous for two in a quiet corner of an eatery for a gourmet lunch delivered anywhere in 15 minutes.