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So I have seen this collocation a few times now and I am still not sure what it means. I tried Google, but I was not able to find a definition, just more examples. Here are two of them:

Bei aller kulinarischen Vielfalt gibt es auch gemeinsame Nenner: beste Qualität, große und trotzdem unprätentiöse Kochkunst und dass das mobile Essen wie gerufen kommt.

Source

Die Berufstätigkeit der Eltern gepaart mit unregelmäßigen Tagesabläufen fördert in den Familien das mobile Essen.

Source

I think it means something like "takeaway" or "to eat out", but I am not sure if that would fit the context of the first example.

Could someone please explain this to me?

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  • Welcome to German.SE. Do you have any linkable source for these quotes? That would offer more context. Thanks. Dec 13, 2021 at 22:38
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    That not a fixed phrase in German which is understood without context Dec 13, 2021 at 22:42

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Mobiles Essen is kind of a "generic clause" and means anything from a single customer takeaway to a regular delivery service for many people.

In the linked articles(thanks Stephie) it is just the distinction from "a family member(s) organize & prepare the food so the entire group consumes the meal at home on a regular base".

While takeaways are usually called Zum Mitnehmen or To-go or Zum Abholen, the next step is a single requested food delivery service. In both cases the variety covers mainly complete meals - depending of the menu offered by these snack bars/diners/restaurants.

Combining both kinds of mobility (the customer goes to the diner & the diner comes to the costumer) is the food truck (German: Foodtruck). Because they tend to switch locations on a regular schedule and just shorten the distance to the customer.

And technically speaking any kind of canteen or campus dining hall could also be understood as mobiles Essen.

Last but not least there is any kind of food delivery service to the home of the customer. Ranging from supermarket (which is quite new) to classic pizza guy to regular things like Essen auf Rädern (example from ASB), originally invented for those unable to go shopping food on their own.

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    The English for Essen auf Rädern is a bit more poetic: "Meals on wheels".
    – RDBury
    Dec 14, 2021 at 5:26
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    I checked the DWDS usage database but nothing came up, so perhaps this is a new term or regional. In any case, I can't think of a phrase in English that matches your description; perhaps there isn't one. The phrase "mobile food" does exist in English, but it seems to be restricted to food trucks and push carts, it also seems to be jargon specific to the industry and most English speakers are not aware of it.
    – RDBury
    Dec 14, 2021 at 5:52
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    I would not have associated canteen and campus dining hall with mobiles Essen, even given that the term is blurry.
    – guidot
    Dec 14, 2021 at 8:24

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