Economist Blames Kids, Prohibition for Bad Food
Who knew economists could be food critics? Professor Tyler Cowen, behind the book An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies, out April 12, is apparently a pro at finding hidden gems using economics.
Some tips The New York Times gleaned from the George Mason University professor: Choose unknown dishes and be adventurous; opt for immigrant eateries in food malls, with plenty of options and competition; find places where locals or immigrants eat; customers should look prosperous.
Most notably, he recommends avoiding places with glamorous women and hipsters. But why?
"A lot of restaurants, especially trendy restaurants, they do well by paying close attention to quality when they first open, and they get good reviews. They evolve to be spots for socializing, and eventually the food quality slips," Cowen tells us.
So what is it about immigrant food malls? "You have informed customers, typically there’s a lot of competition, and often it will tend to be cheaper," Cowen said. "You’re only paying for the food and not for these other qualities."
Still, Cowen thinks American food culture is lacking, especially when it comes to wine pairings. While the French may have a perfect bottle of red for every occasion, American wine and food culture was set back a decade or so with Prohibition.
Then, we have those darn kids to worry about. "American family eating is much more centered around the child," Cowen said. "You bring the child out for food, cook for the child at home. In France or Mexico, there's much more of an expectation that the child will arrive to the food taste of the parent."