Food and Drink

At [new D.C. restaurant] Pineapple and Pearls, Silverman says there will be no sticker shock. A $250 dinner will cost $250. When diners make a reservation, they will pay half upfront and will be billed the other half automatically on the day of their reservation. If they cancel 72 hours in advance of their reservation, diners will be refunded their initial payment.

…Pineapple and Pearls wants to “eliminate the guest from ever having to look at a bill,” Silverman says. “When you show up, you have nothing to worry about. Everything is paid for. All you have to do is sit back and have a good time. We’ll take care of the rest.”

Here is the full story, here is my earlier post “Why is it so hard to find the cash register?

The new pitcher, called the Brita Infinity pitcher, will be able to track how much water is flowing through the pitcher. When approximately 40 gallons of water have passed through the pitcher’s purification filter, the pitcher will then send a signal to the Dash Replenishment Service to reorder more filters.

The new Brita Infinity pitcher will sell on Amazon for $44.95. A three-pack of replacement filters costs between $15 and $20. Brita says the pitcher’s two lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries should last nearly five years, even if stored in a cold environment. You know, like your fridge. The pitcher holds up to eight cups of water, and is BPA-free.

Here is more, with a photo, via the excellent Samir Varma.

Birrieria Zaragoza

by on February 10, 2016 at 1:46 pm in Food and Drink, Uncategorized | Permalink

This small, family-owned Chicago Mexican restaurant specializes in barbecued goat.  It is the best barbecued goat I have had, the best accompanying sauce I have had outside of Mexico (you must order it separately), and the best tortillas I have had outside of Mexico.  It is one of the best restaurants in Chicago, for my taste perhaps the best.

Here is a short video about the restaurant.

Note also that goats are not in general raised on factory farms.  It is a significant question how steeply the marginal cost curve would climb, were we to substitute a lot of goat consumption for say pig or cow consumption.  In any case, at the margin it seems like a no-brainer, especially with the Birrieria to guide you.

Strongly recommended.

We match individual-level survey data with information on the historical lifeways of ancestors, focusing on Africa, where the transition away from such modes of production began only recently. Within enumeration areas and occupational groups, we find that individuals from ethnicities that derived a larger share of subsistence from agriculture in the pre-colonial era are today more educated and wealthy. A tentative exploration of channels suggests that differences in attitudes and beliefs as well as differential treatment by others, including less political power, may contribute to these divergent outcomes.

That is from a recent paper by Michalopoulos, Putterman, and Weil.  Here are video and ungated versions.

German Lopez at Vox reports:

If you look at the data, there’s no evidence to support the idea that Europe, in general, has a safer drinking culture than the US.

According to international data from the World Health Organization, European teens ages 15 to 19 tend to report greater levels of binge drinking than American teens.

This continues into adulthood. Total alcohol consumption per person is much higher in most of Europe. Drinkers in several European countries — including the UK, France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland — are also more likely to report binge drinking than their US counterparts.

Younger teens in Europe appear to drink more, as well. David Jernigan, an alcohol policy expert at Johns Hopkins University, studied survey data, finding that 15- and 16-year-old Americans are less likely to report drinking and getting drunk in the past month than their counterparts in most European countries.

File under Wisdom of the Mormons.

The Filipino restaurant Manila Social Club, in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, just made a splash with a confectionary creation that makes people crazy: a shiny, $100 doughnut covered in 24-carat gold.

There is more from the WSJ here, via Samir Varma.  If nothing else, it makes the other prices on the menu seem reasonable…

donut6f-1-web

Here is another account.

China’s top leadership plans to push ahead with deep structural reforms of agriculture and the countryside next year, but the most pressing matter is how to deal with its huge stockpile of surplus grain.

The source is here, via Bill Bishop.

I’m not convinced women who are on Tinder who say “no hookups” actually mean that.

First of all, Tinder is for young people and young women don’t have a hard time meeting men in real life. So, for someone to go to a place that is known to be where casual sex seekers meet and announce THEY aren’t at all interested in casual sex seems fishy. If I’m not in the market to buy shag carpeting that’s full of vomit and fleas, I don’t go shopping at the used carpet store that specializes in shag carpeting that’s full of vomit and fleas. I certainly don’t go there and ask where I can find silk hand-knotted rugs from Central Persia for basically the same price and get offended when I’m offered vomit and fleas.

More likely, these women are interested in hooking up (or at least open to some opportunities of it happening) but don’t want their friends and colleagues knowing this should someone come across their profile, so like the Playboy readers who buy the magazine for the articles, these women are on Tinder “just for the lulz.”

Which brings me to my second point: Despite their loud claims, women are not on Tinder to find their husbands. Getting married is easy. It is so easy that almost anyone can do it! Very unattractive, very poor, mentally unstable people can do it. Now, you might not be able to marry someone who meets all the required characteristics but if Tinder women were sincere in husband-hunting, rather than just stating “no hookups”, which is spectacularly unhelpful, they’d actually list their requirements in order to speed up the process.

And, if the internet (and online dating in particular) is so hostile to women, why would any reasonable woman who has above-average chances of meeting someone in traditional ways subject herself to unbearable and avoidable sexual harassment online? If she’ll assume the risk of verbal abuse from potential suitors, she must be very motivated to meet someone using this platform and I doubt she will be in the top 5-10% of all available women (or perhaps she’s more resilient and online interactions are not emotionally harmful to her). So compared to the top 5-10% of the men she’s vying for (attractive, educated, marriage-minded men in their 20s are quite rare), she won’t have the upper hand, so making brusque dismissals right out of the gate just seems more like an attempt to demonstrate dominance. The point is, the women who really don’t want to hook up aren’t on Tinder and the ones who do say that on Tinder aren’t being honest.

wedding

That is from NinjaEconomics, the original post is here.

candy

“Everybody is always like Wonka this, Wonka that, but I just never relate,” said Maayan Zilberman, a lingerie savant turned conceptual confectioner and the creator of Sweet Saba, an avant-garde candy company.

…Behind her was a container of candy rings that resemble men’s sex toys, made with edible gold and pectin. Ms. Zilberman had prepared them initially for a baby shower. “It was for the parents’ friends, not the baby,” she said. Much to her amusement, the $10 rings are often misidentified as doll bracelets by young customers. “They’re some of my best sellers.”

There are also candies that look like gold Rolexes but taste like Champagne ($10), eucalyptus-flavored Q-tips ($8 for six) and pencils that taste like grass ($12 for four). Ms. Zilberman worked with a food technologist to develop about 30 flavors, which include bubble gum, bacon, whiskey and mother’s milk.

“It’s mostly just cream,” Ms. Zilberman said of the last one.

Here is the Joshua David Stein NYT piece.  Here is Zilberman’s Instagram page, try this photo of the candy.

I’d guess women actually do tend to have a higher taste for quality and variety within this category of [regular] products. But I still doubt that women have higher taste for quality and variety overall. Instead it seems to me that the sorts of products that can have similar male and female versions tend to be lower-quality less-varied more-commodity-like sorts of products.

Women could have a higher taste for quality among lower quality products, and still have the same overall taste for quality, if women have less tolerance for variation in quality across product categories. That is, men may be more willing to save via lower quality in some areas, in order to pay for higher quality in other areas. In contrast, women may seek a more consistent level of quality across many product categories. Women may be more afraid someone will judge them badly from one particular unusually low quality category, while men may hope someone will judge them well from one particular unusually high quality category. This theory fits with many other results suggesting that men are and seek higher variance, and have less conformity.

His post is here.

I would offer the following (speculative) generalization.  Guys are more likely to “just buy any usable sock,” whereas women are more likely to want “the right socks.”  Therefore socks for guys end up being cheaper, because male price elasticity is higher.

Yet guys are more likely to spend a lot to buy the most expensive stereo system, or the most expensive car, or make the biggest charitable donation.  There may not be coexisting “male” and “female” versions of these goods, as with pink vs. blue razors, but still the men pay big compared to the women.

The now-famous WaPo Danielle Paquette piece oversamples “regular goods” and undersamples the goods where males end up paying more.  Therefore it looks like women are getting ripped off, but in reality we don’t know the net effect.

Bryan Caplan had a hand in this lunch discussion too, I ordered halal fish and chips, Bryan let me take his extra spinach.

Austin food bleg

by on December 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm in Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink

What’s the best dumpy place to eat in Austin?

I thank you in advance for your suggestions.

Lemin is recently out of UC Berkeley, and I have heard that he is on the American market right now.

Here is Lemin’s paper on the Malthusian trap (pdf), one of the most interesting papers of the last few years.  The key point is that some kinds of production drive down living standards and other kinds of production do not, therefore enriching and disaggregating Malthus’s theory, some might say overturning it.  Here is one excerpt:

It follows that the Romans were rich not because technological progress temporarily exceeded population growth—as Malthusianists claim—but because Rome had a business-friendly legal system and an active market economy. Well-functioning courts and market-places boost industry more than they boost agriculture. Thus biasing production structure to luxury, they raised the average living standards of the whole society. Conversely, the Agricultural Revolution left an unfortunate legacy: the hunter-and-gatherer-turned peasants failed to achieve the level of leisure and nutrition their ancestors once enjoyed (Diamond, 1987). Growth was immiserizing because agriculture biased production structure to subsistence. The same tragedy recurred when potato dominated the Irish diet in the late 18th century.

Lemin then introduces cross-societal migration into the model and shows that “…A tiny bit of bias in migration (say, if people are extremely reluctant to move and slow to learn) can still suppress a strong tendency of growth.”  The Industrial Revolutipn did not come to Song China because there were insufficient mechanisms for exclusion.

Here is Lemin Wu’s home page.  Here are some of his other papers and ideas.

Two different people have asked me this question this week, so I thought I would write out my answer. My approach is slightly unorthodox, but here goes:

1. Go to the top of Marina Bay Sands hotel and get a view of the skyline, the harbor, and the Straits.  Watch the ships queuing.  This is one of my favorite views in the whole world.  Most of all I am struck by the contrast between what Singapore has achieved so quickly and also its continuing ultimate vulnerability; the view captures both of those.  If you can afford it, stay in the hotel and swim in the Infinity Pool.  That alone justifies dragging your body all the way to Singapore.

2. Organize the rest of your trip around food.  For Malay food, visit the hawker centre at Geylang Serai Night Market.  For Indian food, go to the hawker centre at the entrance to Little India, and walk around the adjacent shopping bazaar as well.  For Singaporean food, there are many good choices, depending on your location.  The optimal time to arrive is by 10:30, before most of the queues start.  Ask cabbies for the best chili and pepper crab.

3. Eat at David Thompson’s Thai restaurant, in the mall next to Marina Bay Sands.

4. Once it is dark, and edging toward 9 p.m., walk around the Merlion area and the bridge, where the city comes to life.

5. Spend the rest of your time seeking out “retro Singapore” as much as possible.  Haw Par Villa is one place to start, but there are multiple substitutes, including the hawker centres away from downtown and their special dishes.

6. The Asian Civilizations Museum is by far the best museum in town.  The zoo and the bird park are first-rate.

7. Much as Singapore calls itself a “city-state” I think of it as a “suburb-state,” unlike Hong Kong which is a true city.  I consider this high praise, but Singaporeans often are slightly insulted when I put it this way.  Your mileage may vary, but I say enjoy it as you would a suburb.

8. Talk to as many Singaporean civil servants as you can.

9. Take a day trip by cab or bus into Johor Bahru, in neighboring Malaysia, a thirty minute trip if there are no delays.  The food there is even better and you will learn some political science.  Read this book for background on both countries.  Read Lee Kuan Yew.

Here is my earlier post “Why Singapore is special.”   In a nutshell, it’s one of the world’s greatest trips, safe and easy to deal with too.

bacteriaFrom a new paper in Nature, Scientific Reports:

Microbial communities are ubiquitous in both natural and artificial environments. However, microbial diversity is usually reduced under strong selection pressures, such as those present in habitats rich in recalcitrant or toxic compounds displaying antimicrobial properties. Caffeine is a natural alkaloid present in coffee, tea and soft drinks with well-known antibacterial properties. Here we present the first systematic analysis of coffee machine-associated bacteria. We sampled the coffee waste reservoir of ten different Nespresso machines and conducted a dynamic monitoring of the colonization process in a new machine. Our results reveal the existence of a varied bacterial community in all the machines sampled, and a rapid colonisation process of the coffee leach. The community developed from a pioneering pool of enterobacteria and other opportunistic taxa to a mature but still highly variable microbiome rich in coffee-adapted bacteria. The bacterial communities described here, for the first time, are potential drivers of biotechnologically relevant processes including decaffeination and bioremediation.

The authors note:

The presence of bacterial genera with pathogenic properties and the fast recovery of the communities after rinsing the capsule container, strongly suggest the need for frequent maintenance of the capsule container of these machines.

In related news from a few years ago, scientists in the US have genetically modified an E.coli strain so that it is ‘addicted’ to caffeine. Yes, but will E. coli prove theorems?

Hat tip: Paul Kedrosky.

Indonesia’s anti-drugs agency has proposed building a prison on an island guarded by crocodiles to hold death row convicts, an official said, an idea that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond film.

The proposal is the pet project of anti-drugs chief Budi Waseso, who plans to visit various parts of the archipelago in his search for fierce reptiles to guard the jail.

“We will place as many crocodiles as we can there. I will search for the most ferocious type of crocodile,” he was quoted as saying by local news website Tempo.

Waseso said that crocodiles would be better at preventing drug traffickers from escaping prison as they could not be bribed — unlike human guards.

There is more here, via Charles Klingman and Mark Thorson, try this Bond movie clip too.