Dark kitchens

It is accepted universally that one day most of the food we eat will be delivered to our door. The home delivery services are growing at an incredible rate, and the fact that companies like Amazon and Uber have joined their ranks demonstrates the business has a huge future.

The British Deliveroo now serves Spanish households on the Coast, and JustEat is not far behind.

The formula is straightforward. These companies publish menus of local restaurants and fast-food outlets on their websites, and the customer orders his meal. Providing the choice offered by 'Casa Mateo' looks tempting, it does not matter whether they have ever eaten there, or are likely to.

The meal that arrives on their doorstep in a 'Casa Mateo' box will usually have been prepared in a 'dark kitchen', often a converted shipping container miles away from the restaurant. One of 'Casa Mateo's' chefs may actually work there, but more often than not it is some poor wage slave doing long hours in not very amenable working conditions - usually on their own.

In fact these operations are run by the home delivery companies themselves, not by the restaurants. It is a sort of franchise of convenience that enables the food to be prepared at rock-bottom prices and sold as if it were a premium restaurant item.

A recent Deutsche Bank survey predicts that it will not be long before home-delivered meals will cost the same as home-cooked, above all if the time element is factored in.

Home-delivered Chinese meals started it all on the basis of very low prices, but the new wave of restaurant-prepared premium dishes is aimed at setting standards much higher and at the getting households accustomed to the idea. But of course, as the Spanish saying goes, often the customer receives cat for hare (gato por liebre).