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04 December 2015 @ 02:42 pm
A Sprig of dystopia  
I don't usually go out to eat. Partially because I'm cheap, but also because softlykarou is a lovely cook who makes delicious food and I don't mind eating the same thing day-in and day-out for years at a time. So my weekday lunch has been the same for years at this point and I have no interest in changing it--I still look forward to that steak salad every day--but I still signed up for Sprig after hearing about it from somewhere. The pictures looked pretty nice, I nodded approvingly at them, and then went back to eating my steak salads.

A friend posted this article about Sprig and a different business involving picking up from home cooks, and it has quite a few good points. I mean
A harried courier extracts your meal from a fat insulated bag; you say “thank you,” close the door, and feel bad for a moment about the differences between your lives. Five stars.
Welcome to the cyberpunk dystopia, except more banal and with barely any neon or chrome. I may dress appropriately for the cyberpunk future, but I don't want to do more than my share as a member of a developed nation in bringing it about.

But a couple days ago, some algorithm on Sprig's servers noticed that while I had signed up, I had never interacted with them at all, and they offered me a free meal. Well, if it's free...

So I checked today's menu, and it was Grilled Harisssa Chicken with Semolina Couscous & Tzatziki ($11), Organic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes ($9), Rosemary Chicken & Squash Salad with Wild Rice ($11), Creamy Pesto Lasagna with Italian Sausage ($12), so pretty much exactly what you'd expect from an app with Sprig's premise. I put in the promo code, picked the rosemary salad, and waited. And in the lobby of the AMA building, I had one of these handed to me:

I'm not sure how the delivery works. The offices are just across the river from me, but the "5-15 minute" delivery time was more like twenty minutes, with the courier going seemingly strange directions several times. I figure she was running several deliveries at once, but it made the estimated time useless because it oscillated through 5 and 8 minutes remaining until snapping to 3 minutes and then having the courier call me to tell me it was hear in the span of thirty seconds. So, F for predictability, though with only one data point, take it with salt.

Also, from a cyberpunk dystopia standpoint, I'm a little perturbed that the app autocalculated the service charge at $1 with no way to increase it. I really hope the couriers are paid a high enough salary that it's just icing on the cake and they're not forced to make fifteen deliveries an hour to make ends meet, but somehow I doubt it.

The article's description of Sprig's food as pretty good cafeteria food is spot on. Here's what it looked like when I opened up the bag:

Maple vinaigrette, Brussels sprouts, and a slice of squash that I had to cut in pieces myself, plus the rice, chicken, and salad. It was pretty good, I admit. I'm especially happy that the dressing was obviously supposed to be a complement to the salad rather than the only thing you're supposed to taste. I hate it when salads are turned into a dressing swamp.

But pretty good is all I'll give it. At best, it was as good as the average quality of 愛妻弁当 that my wife makes me, and it couldn't compare to the best of those. And my brain looks at $11 and runs through a bunch of failures of cognition, like not calculating the value of the ingredients we buy for my usual lunch or the value of softlykarou's labor, and comes up with $11 <<<< FREE, and it's obvious which one wins there. Plus the whole cyberpunk dystopia thing.

I did like that they threw in a coconut truffle in that little cardboard box, though.
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