Delights of delivery
Now it is time to admit! We are hooked to delivery in our urban lives. We shop online, we order almost anything to our doorstep, and we discovered the convenience of ordering food, especially spiked by our home-office experience of working endless hours. Being a food writer, and a practical home-cook that can prepare meals within minutes effortlessly, I would have never imagined that I would ever order ready-made food. But life proves you one thing: You should never say “never” ever!
My introduction to ordering meals happened exactly one year ago. We had moved to a new tiny apartment in Istanbul with my 24-year old daughter, to a flat within walking distance to her new job, or supposedly so. Shortly after, she found herself switching to home office, joining me in my misery of working from home, in our case an unorganized new accommodation that could hardly be called home, far away from our actual home in Ankara where we had a proper neatly organized kitchen. Alas, here our cooking facilities were far from being perfect. Adding to our misery, we had to learn some carpentry skills, trying to assemble our furniture. Meanwhile our workload almost doubled for both of us, if not tripled. To cut it short, during the first lockdown, we had no other choice, but resort to ordering food every single mealtime. Initially, I was embarrassed to tell my friends, feeling like a tailor who cannot mend her own clothes. I was not even comfortable to accept the fact myself. To my horror, I liked it!
The delivery systems are all about convenience. Convenience is an urban reality, especially when we are chasing hours and minutes meeting deadlines. Actually, all on-demand delivery systems, whether it is goods, or urgent needs, or just drinking water, or takeaway food, what they really deliver to us is “time,” the most precious urban need. The reason for my admittance to food delivery systems is clear. They deliver time!
Take-away food delivery must have been the hottest issue worldwide in these times of the pandemic. Our urban landscape is now dotted with carriers of all sorts, almost anything can be ordered online to any place you wish. It seems that there is now a web of motorcycle couriers buzzing in streets endlessly, adding to the soundscape of cities. But how is life for them, and how does the system work with the providers, that is, the food outlets, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, pastry shops, traditional eateries, and small single food shops like hamburger, pizza, pide and kebab places. Are they happy with the system? Being addicted to ordering food, I started to question such issues. In the take-away food world, rivalry is hardship, and until not long ago there was a monopoly of delivery, not leaving an option to choose for the ones that needed such a service. Now there are new players in the game.
The other day, I had the chance to speak with Batuhan Gültakan, the CEO of Getir-Yemek. Before talking to him, I questioned a few chef friends who stayed away from such systems, but now started working with them. When I asked about what changed their minds, the answer was single, swift and very clear. Getir-Yemek pays the food joints the next day. Other choices could postpone the payment up to 45 days, now most lowered the time span to 15 days, but we all know that small outlets need to buy their food fresh on daily basis. If they cannot get the money of the food they sell, the next day they have difficulty in getting fresh ingredients, and they turn to postpone their payments, and the food producers remain helpless. It is a vicious cycle that is no good for the sector, a chain reaction that is bound to explode at one point.
Sustainability is a magic word that we like to use often, mostly in cases when we are living unsustainably. Any system that aims to be sustainable has to meet the needs of both ends, that of the consumer and the producer. My talk with Gültakan confirmed my thoughts on this issue. He claims that they tend to be more producer-oriented, try to take lower commissions, help the smaller establishments with know-how, packaging, or anything they need. They try to encourage new comers to the system, during their two-year journey since they first started, they supported small boutique places serving only croissants, tacos or bowls, new niche food producers that did not dare to step into the much-popular world of hamburgers pizzas and kebabs. His final verdict is striking, if we crush the restaurant sector, we do not exist.
Istanbul had always been a city of carriers of all sorts. In Ottoman times, we had tifins to carry food to our workplace, now we have our web of food deliverers. It is time to embrace this phenomenon, and encourage them to do better for the sector, and support their social responsibility attitude. I found life is easier when we order our food. It worked for us. As Getir-Yemek claims, beside everything else, they deliver the most essential thing that we needed: Time!