Leading article: Recipe for disaster

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The Independent Online

The one thing you can guarantee about predictions is that they won't come true. In the 1960s, scientists said that by 2000 we would all be wearing revealing space-age silver suits.

Poor prophets, they didn't anticipate the mass obesity that would render that particular look a fashion no-no. We were also supposed to live in houses that looked like space ships, nip to and from other planets and eat tiny nutritious pills instead of cooked food.

So when Waitrose Food Illustrated sketch out their idea of the kitchen to come in 2031, and suggest it will feature unbreakable china, ever-sharp knives and "clever fridges" that order food before it runs out, scepticism must be in order.

Like pills-for-food, it's hard to know quite who wants them. Take unbreakable china. Many of us dispose of unwanted Christmas kitchen gifts by "dropping" them, so the idea that they might bounce back uncracked is depressing.

The "clever fridge", meanwhile, is another disaster waiting to happen. Many of us know the trauma of receiving vast utility bills owing to computer glitches, so we only imagine the pitfalls of fridges that will "cleverly" order several hundred tins of Beluga caviar when all they have run out of is fish fingers.

Along with the self-cleaning kitchen that "hoses itself down", these innovations sound more like a nightmare. What a relief it is that such prophets are almost invariably wrong and that come 2031 people still be smashing plates and chopping away with blunt knives in delightfully messy kitchens - just like their parents did.