Further WSJ coverage of *An Economist Gets Lunch*

by on April 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm in Books, Food and Drink | Permalink

Recently he noted a jump in the quality of pizza and hamburger restaurants after his daughter dragged him to a Shake Shack restaurant.

“It took me a while to actually believe it. I had a bias,” Cowen said.

From Kristina Peterson, here is more.  Here is the coverage from three days ago.

1 Bernhard April 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm

“I can make a mole in an hour flat,” Cowen said, but conceded, “it’s a very full hour.”

Would you share the recipe/the procedure with your blog-readers, or is it in the book?

2 john knox April 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm


3 Tyler Cowen April 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm

It’s not in the book, but the standard recipes in books such as Diane Kennedy or Rick Bayless are very good. The key to getting it down to an hour is simply to sequence all of the right steps in exactly the correct order so that you are never waiting and the shadow value of time is always positive. Plus you must have all the ingredients ready at hand. Then you must let it sit overnight in the fridge, that is essential.

4 Bernhard April 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

“The key […] is simply to sequence all of the right steps in exactly the correct order so that you are never waiting and the shadow value of time is always positive.”

Thats the method I always intuitively use when cooking. Start with preparing the ingredients which will take the longest to cook, then while cooking those prepare other ingredients etc.
The worst dishes, from a time management perspective, are those where over the course of an hour or so you have to stir them every five minutes, so you canot do anything else productively during that time. I recently figured out that since you have to be in the kitchen anyway, they are best combined with the simultaneous preparation of another dish (which can be kept for another day).
Will try the fridge method, thanks.

5 Michael Heller April 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm

“since you have to be in the kitchen anyway, they are best combined with…”
… some good podcasts. That’s what I find anyway. It’s good listening time.

The Shake Shack Bird Dog ($4.40) sounds good. I’m glad Tyler is not a food snob.

6 Stefan April 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Hm. I’m pretty damned efficient in the kitchen, and I recall mole being an 11-hour ordeal. I must be using the wrong recipe…

7 Three Pipe Problem April 14, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Do you remember blogging your mole recipe in 2004?


8 Bill April 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm

The true economic question that has to be answered


Why the bad drives out the good.

Burma Shave, er ah, Taco Bell.

9 NAME REDACTED April 12, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Easy one. It has to do with cost versus quality and time. Taco bell is nearly instant and is one of the cheapest sources of food I can find. Its also open late at night when everything else thats fast is closed.

10 GiTy April 13, 2012 at 3:30 am

A legit taco truck puts taco bell to shame in every respect.

11 dan1111 April 13, 2012 at 4:33 am

Some advantages that Taco Bell has over taco trucks:
-It is available throughout the country.
-High visibility and central locations (important if you don’t know the area).
-Convenience (drive thru, accepts credit cards, tables to eat at).
-You instantly know what you are getting.
-Food safety standards are likely higher.

I would certainly prefer the taco truck, too, but I don’t think it is irrational that Taco Bell exists. Also, the legend of how bad Taco Bell’s food is greatly exceeds the reality. A Taco Bell taco tastes good to many people (including me, even if it is not my preferred choice).

12 Rahul April 13, 2012 at 6:09 am

It’s the “how do I know it is legit” part that’s the crux. Especially at midnight in the middle of nowhere.

Besides sucks eating standing outside in winter. OTOH, what I wonder is what percent of Taco Bell etc. sales are incidental to the need to use the restroom.

13 Reg April 12, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Loco D’reets

14 Simonini April 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Shake Shack doesn’t compare to Burger, Tap and Shake; Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace; Elevation Burger; Bgr; etc.

15 bob April 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

I haven’t had the others but Shake Shack is far better than Elevation burger. Despite all the hype about their grass fed beef their burgers are awful.

16 cthorm April 12, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Umami Burger in LA is a good example of very high quality burgers.

Tyler – do you have any recommendations in the Orange County area? I grew up here and recently returned, but I haven’t found many restaurants that compare to those I left in LA.

17 Doc Merlin April 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Also, Tyler is a bit of a snob. The quality of even low-end burger places can be very good. Try the ‘W’ burger from Wendy’s for example. Its decent.

18 Doc Merlin April 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm

By snob, I mean someone who is irrationally disdainful of certain good but low-status goods.

19 Rahul April 13, 2012 at 6:11 am

Are Taco carts and Pakistani dives low-status or high-status?

20 AQ April 13, 2012 at 12:17 am

That Dwight Garner review was mostly laughable, but he was right to point out Tyler’s “reverse snobbery”. It’s part of Tyler’s charm – and his annoyingness, and in all matters, not just re food. Superiority-cum-contrarianism masquerading as disarming humility. A thing to behold!

21 Mitch April 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

“It took me a while to actually believe it. I had a bias,” Cowen said.


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