The outsource before Christmas

Juan-Carlo Tomas, Communication Manager & food writer

Who’s coming to your Christmas lunch this year? As we gather around countless tables in the coming days, cold drink and seafood in hand, we’ll likely be inviting some new friends not to sit around our table, but stock it.

And what a relief it is, too. Who has the time to plan, let alone prepare the perfectly inappropriate Downton Abbey-style feast? Or drag themselves around from butcher to fishmonger to candlestick maker? With traffic at gridlock, end-of-year work strings to tie up and school all done we’ve less time than ever to holiday, let alone celebrate.

In our Down Under, upside-down Christmas the moment the mercury scales 35 your goose is literally cooked. Much better to order one from the wood fired joint down the road and have it arrive hot, fresh, and with added bacon blanket for an extra $15, plus local black truffle butter, $37, minus pickles thanks. Four stars.

Unexpected guests? No problem. A dozen tender lobster rolls from Supernormal will sort that out (add $2 for gluten free, thanks), plus three extra bottles of a hefty skin contact chardy to wash them down thanks, with an added ice bucket thrown in. Three stars. One formerly old-school fishmonger will even deliver giant Yamba prawns for the big day, because who has time to go to the fish market anymore? Throw in a scatter of Moreton Bay bugs and a couple dozen oysters thanks, and pick up a slab on the way over. Five stars, baby!

Christmas with Uber Eats, Foodora, Deliveroo, Menulog, Eat Now or more has become a reality this year, thanks to our love of swiping for things on apps and hunger for convenience. National Australia Bank research reveals online takeaway food sales comprised 5.8 per cent of our annual $20.1 billion online shopping bill, growing by 56.1 per cent in the 12-months to June last year.

They’ve changed our dining landscape like few forces have, clean eating and nouvelle cuisine included. But rather than the death of fine dining, as some have predicted, food delivery apps fill a void we knew was there but catered to cautiously.

Takeaway once meant rifling through the bottom kitchen drawer for a letterbox menu, calling your eatery and meeting the delivery driver with cash – and they never had change. Today, food delivery apps have the power to actually augment reality, and the results are addictive.

Torn between her need for sleep and the gnawing sense of hunger preventing it, a friend and new mother posted last week about her dilemma on social media, declaring “I’ve reached a new high. Or low. Uber Eats through bedroom window.” But how different is this to Santa delivering presents down a chimney? Only this time, rather than you leaving out cookies and carrots, they leave behind fried chicken and canapes.

So this year, I’m planning on a Christmas with more time at the table for a change, and away from the oven, sink and shopping mall. I wouldn’t dare call any of my delivery drivers’ elves, but they’re doing the same good deed and, if I plan it right, there’ll be just enough time to stash all the bags and wrappers into the recycling before anyone actually arrives for lunch itself.

If only I could track my guests the same way as my deliveries! I hope whatever you order or make is delicious for you and yours.

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