Argentinean customs: have everything else delivered (not just your soda water)
The home delivery service began timidly in the eighties and it became incredibly popular in the nineties. Nowadays it’s a fixture of everyday life. It’s the most natural thing in the world to pick up the phone, place your order for food and thirty or so minutes later your meal is at your doorstep, ready to eat.
Our fridge doors are peppered with magnets bearing the name and phone numbers of bars, restaurants and catering businesses (casas de comidas) and our kitchen drawers are full of menus. Are you in the mood for pizza? Empanadas? Chinese? You can order almost any kind of food from the comfort of your home, from sushi to picadas, even alcoholic drinks.
On weekend nights you can hear the whining of mopeds used for transporting people’s dinners. Dozens of waiters and delivery boys (it’s always young men for some reason) crisscross the financial and commercial districts of big cities delivering lunch or even a cup of coffee to busy office workers across the country.
Recently, a newspaper published an article (in Spanish) discussing how much delivery boys should be tipped. They get a basic salary complemented by tips. Since tipping is not regulated –or even mandatory- in Argentina, customers are free to decide how generous or stingy they want to be. Customers can leave anything from the loose change in their pockets to a fair percentage of the food bill. I do hope that tips are more generous on rainy days.
It’s not just prepared meals that are delivered. Some pharmacies have a delivery service for regular customers, although the radius is rather small. Most supermarkets will deliver your entire shop for a fee. They have a set radius (bigger than that of your neighbourhood pharmacy, of course) and they can’t tell you exactly when they’ll be at your home but they give you a two hour window. In my opinion, the extra fee and the wait are really worth it, especially if you don’t own a car.