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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 18:42 GMT
Spain's cyber-mums dish it up
The site was started by four young people from Madrid
The Telemadres website puts cooks in touch with clients
Spain is witnessing a new phenomenon: the internet mum.

Mothers whose children have flown the nest are finding surrogates online and cooking for them.

Telemadres or "remote mothers" is a new idea whereby Spanish women can satisfy their maternal instincts and make a bit of money into the bargain.

A new website puts them in touch with people who are too busy or too lazy to make their own food - or simply don't enjoy it.


I've got about 300 or 400 recipes

Juan Carlos Acebo
The movement has spread most rapidly in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona, as well as those with large student populations like Pamplona.

Conchita Gonzalez, a telemadre from the Basque town of Getxo, heard about the idea from two friends who had seen a media report about it.

"Because I work at home and like cooking, they thought I might be interested," she told Spanish television.

"Sure enough, I went on the internet, discovered the Telemadres forum and put an advert on it. That's how it started."

Spanish TV
Conchita Gonzalez enjoys the work
Conchita says her clients mostly choose traditional dishes.

"People ask for kidney beans, green vegetables, stews, meatballs, roast meats, ribs - that kind of food," she told Spanish TV.

The Telemadres website stresses mothers' long experience of providing varied and healthy food.

"They can advise you on the diet best suited to your needs within the prices you want to pay," it says.

Online daughter

But the parental role is not restricted to females.

Juan Carlos Acebo from the Basque town of Santurtzi is Spain's first telepadre or web dad. He read about the idea in a magazine and did not hesitate to get involved.

"I work shifts," he told Spanish TV. "I have quite a few days free in the week, so if I can fit things in and get a chance to get extra money, then I'm all for it."

Now Juan Carlos has an online "daughter" - a work colleague who has already put in an order for a Christmas dinner.

"I'm a dab hand at pastry-making, and the rest of what I make is everyday stuff like rice or macaroni," he said.

"But if you ever want to eat a la carte, so to speak, that's no problem: I've got about 300 or 400 recipes."

The food is usually sent by taxi, but delivery methods are agreed by those involved. Often the consumers pick it up themselves, heat it up or freeze it for later.

Spanish TV
Juan Carlos cooks between shifts
"You can negotiate everything, because it's a completely private agreement between individuals," says Juan Carlos.

Better diet

Food parcels are even sent outside Spain, according to the Telemadres website.

It shows a Spanish woman living in Paris receiving a freezer bag via special delivery from Madrid.

Gorka and Marta - two of the movement's earliest adoptive children - say their eating habits have greatly improved since they joined.

They told the website that for 130 euros a month, their telemadre sends them a varied diet of frozen meals by taxi.

The only hassle, they say, is returning the empty Tupperware.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

31 Mar 99 | Minimum wage
30 May 02 | UK
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