Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
11 May 2013
The scams to which the free market will stoop to turn a fast buck are endlessly ingenious.
Take that nice meal you had recently in your favourite restaurant.
You remember. Last Saturday night. You started with chestnut and chorizo soup, followed up with duck confit and mange-tout, and ended with sticky toffee pudding. You’d hardly call it the meal of a life-time but it passed muster. In any case, you didn’t pay too much attention to the food as you were focusing rather more on that bottle and a half of very passable Côtes de Blaye that you shared with your companion.
Which is just as well.
Because your meal was not cooked in the restaurant at all.
The starter, main course and dessert were cooked several days ago in a giant warehouse on an industrial estate three hundred miles away.
All that your restaurant did was to provide high-class white napery, cutlery and glasses. The food, all supplied by the mass caterer, was simply heated up in a microwave and delivered to the table.
And, what is more, there is nothing illegal about this practice.
You may have made the assumption – the vast majority of diners do – that the cook in the restaurant’s kitchen has prepared your meal from scratch.
That is simply your assumption.
There is nothing on the menu which states that your meal will be cooked on the premises.
Of course, it would be wrong to suggest that all restaurants are involved in this scam.
But reports in the London press this weekend suggest that it is much more common than the foodie public might imagine.
After all, it means that the restaurant no longer needs to hire skilled cooks in order to trouser a tidy profit. All it needs to employ are people who know how to turn on a microwave.
And the punters fall for it every time.
“Home-made” ice-cream? You must be joking.
The only defence of the dining public against these con artists is our old friend “caveat emptor”.
For instance, you are quite within your rights to ask the maître d’ whether your meal has been cooked on the premises.
However, lots of people would be too embarrassed to do that.
In which case, they are entirely at the mercy of a business which is seeking, like all businesses, to maximize its returns.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.