Saturday assorted links


The worst thing that could happen to "ethnic food," especially Chinese, is for it to become part of the victimization/oppression/racism grievance industry and its varieties of doublespeak. If you like cheap Chinese food you should eat cheap Chinese food!!

Now I can't even eat without feeling I'm looking down on the culture creating the food. White guilt, is there anything you can't do?

"5. Dolphins plotting together."

So long and thanks for all the fish.

3: There was much that I did not like about this interview, including the label "ethnic food". The interviewee, Ray, says "some people are beginning to get the sense that the word ethnic is this weird catch-all category that isn't useful anymore". But who, except maybe for the chair of a food studies program at NYU, even calls it "ethnic food"? I've heard plenty of people say "let's go to a Chinese restaurant" or "I feel like eating Indian food tonight" but I've never heard anybody say "let's go to an ethnic restaurant tonight".

I suspect that "ethnic food" is a category for critics and professors, and not a category that Americans use.

The observation about the high cost of hiring Japanese workers for a Japanese restaurant is undoubtedly correct, but I'd bet that most of the non-Japanese chefs are of Korean ancestry rather than Chinese. For reasons of both supply and demand: although Korean restaurants are growing in popularity, they still lag far behind Chinese restaurants. And Korea had a lot of exposure to Japanese culture during its decades as a colony; China in contrast faced much less rule and cultural influence by Japanese imperialists.

Nonetheless, he has a point that there are certain cuisines that Americans usually expect to be inexpensive, and are unwilling to pay high prices for. Whereas a dish of similar cost and quality can fetch a higher price if it's American. And certain cuisines have crossed the cultural divide; just as the Italians and Irish eventually became "White" so did (some of) their cuisines. And he makes a good observation that sometimes class trumps race (Japanese restaurants being able to charge high prices) and sometimes race trumps class (obstacles facing Blacks even if they're upper class).

And some of his observations are of mixed validity. The example of the CIA graduate who scorned Chinese cooking is I'm sure authentic and does indeed reflect a parochial ignorance. And there are others like that person -- but I suspect they are outnumbered, at least among Americans with greater exposure to multiple cultures, by those who do appreciate Chinese food including the possibility that it can be expensive and justifiably so.

Brava I didn't think anyone would top the mindless droning of the original article. On second thought change that brava to a bravo you are probally a womanly male not a female.

I agree with Ray on one point: if Japanese, French, and Italian food don't count as "ethnic", then the term actually doesn't have any meaning. Ray claims that expensive Japanese food doesn't count as ethnic, thus preserving his claim that ethnic food is cheap and underpriced. The exception is Japanese food that is prepared by Chinese chefs, which tends to be less expensive, and thus does belong in the ethnic category? Ray also claims that there is an unfair "ceiling" on what we pay for ethnic food, unfair in the sense of being divorced from quality. But, he seems to suggest that the Chinese-produced Japanese food is lesser quality (despite the long Chinese culinary tradition), so is the lower price fair or unfair? In Boston, we have the world famous Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger, which serves expensive Asian Fusion. I'm sure that Ray would say that doesn't count as ethnic food. (Granted, Ming Tsai is Asian American, but I'm pretty sure that Ray would classify cheap Chinese food produced by American-born Chinese as ethnic.)

My impression is that non-ethnic American food tends to be dirt cheap. Look how cheap McDonald's, Wendy's, and push-cart vendor hot dogs are. Sure, there are expensive steakhouses too, but not many Americans eat there very often, so they don't count as "authentic" American. The cheaper places like Outback and Longhorn count, but that just proves my point.

"My impression is that non-ethnic American food tends to be dirt cheap." There is no such thing as non-ethnic food. "Non-ethnic American" is an oxymoron. It's fascinating that anything perceived to be customarily made or consumed by people of European descent is labeled non-ethnic. Food is food. Some person with an ethnic identity started making, eating, and selling it.

'There is no such thing as non-ethnic food. “Non-ethnic American” is an oxymoron...'

OMG: just like with accents, we can accept a default value, hey? American food is "non-ethnic" IN AMERICA. It would be ethnic food in France or Vietnam or Chad. Just like we can say "he has no accent" of an American but if he moves to England or Jamaica suddenly he will have an American Accent.

Talk about sensitive!

1. Hadn't heard of the group, but its FB page links favorably and repeatedly to Takimag, also new to me and at first glance worthwhile.

I bet Cowen didn't read past the headline on #3. If he had he'd be a lot more defensive because it's a direct status attack on Cowen's view of ethnic food. And nothing elicits a more wounded sense of amour propre from Cowen than someone trying to up-status him.

In other words #3 self-recommending.

On the other hand the article is vapid, so perhaps Tyler is selecting his opponents well.

"vapid" is too kind.

I thought he linked to it because of the politics: some ethnic foods need their status raised (Chinese), others need their status lowered (Italian), and some are just right (Japanese).

Status meaning able to charge more for food, because food only becomes authentic when it costs more than the peasants that invented it could have ever afforded.

Could be, but Cowen nevers puts forward an argument that lowers the status of anything he associates himself with, and he's super associated with strip mall Yemeni-Ethipion-Laotian-Papau New Guinea food.

Not to get sucked in to that stupid article but how do hip but low price places like Piada (which cosmopolitan DC doesn't have yet) fit into this matrix.

TC indulging in a Straussian reference.

Honestly curses be upon the person who lent Cowen Persecution and the Art of Writing. What Cowen found on the back cover of that book and skim reading the first ten pages really created a very annoying monster.

You're so being played.

He is only discribing high earning people who regularly drop $100+ for two on food when they eat out, for most Americans that is what they spend on food for a whole week.

#1 "As our group has grown in size and success, many of the structures that helped us grow have become less useful ... It means an end to the standing organization"

Probably putting a nice spin on it, but what if organizations (and government programs) truly did this? One the mission is over, disband instead of the mission creep that turns them into such disasters.

Name five candidates.

I spend too much time reading about international macro, as I started reading the first link looking for a fan group for the Japanese prime minister and Abenomics.

In the UK ethnic food is rapidly modified to suit Western tastes, Chicken Tikka Masala is a good example.

Try eating at a combination Indian market and lunch buffet.

Worth it for the haggis pakora though. The sheer volume of Indian restaurants these days mean that it's not hard to find (at least in the Central Belt) an authentic regionalised Indian restaurant. It's a lot harder with Chinese but still possible.

China and India are very diverse geographically and therefore culinary. Imagine trooping off to some city in Hebai or Uttar Pradesh to open a European restaurant with schnitzel, paella, Lancashire Hot Pot and smorrebrod all on the menu.

Amusing in theory, but in practice there aren't many Chinese restaurants that aren't close to 100% Cantonese on the menu, or Indian that aren't close to 100% Gujurati...

To the extent it works, it's more like an Italian restaurant that offered Piedmontese and Sicilian food. The diversity of the China's peoples are more similar to Italy, than the whole continent of Europe. At most, it's like a Middle Eastern (former Ottoman) restaurant offering food from Egypt to Greece. China was a single nation, and that does mean something.

"Indian that aren’t close to 100% Gujurati…"

Most Indian restaurants in the West are definitely not 100% Gujarati. They are a hodge-podge of dishes from various cuisines of North India with Punjabi and Mughlai dishes making a strong showing. In the U.S., one can always find restaurants representing the various regional cuisines if that region has an associated community of immigrants.

3) I am over my WP limit, but I will guess from comments. There obviously are ethnic restaurants. They are the ones where everyone there (but you) are of an ethnic background and enjoying mostly traditional cuisine. New or old fusion plays a part. Banh Mi is Vietnamese ingredients in French bread for historic reasons.

Some is expensive, because the culture approaches it that way (Japanese, French) some is cheap. Some, like Indian can go either way, but there is one where spending more brings another level of flavor complexity.

Probably the bottom line is to spend extra effort now and then when choosing lunch. Douglas Adams 3rd stage of civilization.

Nope couldn't be more wrong. You'd have been closer if you just imagined how you would have written the article from your hyper-status consious, virtue signalling, SJW addled mind set and then sprinkled in a little Cowenesque ranking fixation.

Wrong about the thrust of the article?

On the other, I am sure something like hot Bi Bim Bap on a cold day (or vis-versa) can be eyes roll back in my head good, without anyone seeing me eat it.

Sharing that is about sharing pleasure. Altruism.

When you hit your WP limit, delete all cookies ending with "" and reload. If you use Google Chrome, you can also try viewing in incognito mode.

Found it (lazy method, borrowed a phone).

It looks like my guess was good, and that (among other errors) the author does not distinguish between ethic food for immigrant communities and "ethnic" food for mass market.

I'm personally outraged at how people pretend to love American food. My last tab was $1300 at Le Bernardin for the three of us, but most people will only pay $10 for an American meal.

You should probably drink less wine.

4 course dinner for $147.

Working for a couple of bowls of rice a day does not make you a food critic.


This article is actually quite insulting.

First off, nobody uses the term "ethnic food" anymore.

Secondly, a low price point for certain cuisines is a major part of their appeal. People like some things because they are affordable. I might be thrilled to get a good Tikka Masala for $15 but would be unwilling to pay $50 for the same dish. That doesn't mean I don't love Tikka Masala. It means that my utility from that dish is $25 worth of yumminess but I'm able to buy it for only $15, giving me a sizable consumer surplus.

Look the article is super stupid but not for the reason you are describing. What the author is trying to figure out is precisely why that sizable consumer surplus exists especially when compared to canard a l'orange which proablly has a negative consumer surplus for most people who eat it.

The answer is competition and decades of acculturation combined with the fact that French food and Japanese food in the USA is unlike most other ethnic foods because it isn't peasant food for the most part. The question the article sets out to answer is perfectly fine the answers it comes up with are silly.

So, the American car companies have agonized that many high end buyers wouldn't consider an American brand for an ~80K car and instead shop for German/Japanese brands. Tesla came along and changed that. The consumers really don't care about ethnicity, they buy what they want. Same with food. Diners don't have deep loyalties to food genres. But you can't just complain they don't buy your product, you have to win them over. Even the idea of ethnic food genres itself is becoming silly with globalization. Different ethnic groups are no longer separated and don't eat completely different types of food any more.

They're also way too eager to attribute the price difference to demand. Isn't there some rule about not reasoning from a price difference?

Interviewer and interviewed are both reprehensible. "Ethnic" food is primarily cheap food because brown people don't have the money to spend on their daily rations. The average Indian consumer wouldn't be impressed with a small plate of expensive artistically arranged grilled vegetables adorned with a smidgen of unusual sauce after a day spent toiling at the call center. As for cuisines climbing the social acceptability ladder, there were a couple of references to the Irish. What's so unusual about Irish food? When was it ever unaccepted?

Wonder how many US academicians earn a living in the racial grievance industry.

I shall join in the bashing of #3, which I note Tyler made no comment on. I have never heard of this Roberto Ferdman before, and I shall not be upset if I never hear of him again, much less this ignorant moron, Ray. I fully second mkt42, but wish to point out some total whoppers in that interview from Ray that nobody so far has.

So, he is all about how these white cuisines have gone upscale. Really? I am waiting for anybody to show me expensive German or Irish or for that matter, English or Scottish (hah!), restaurants anywhere in the US. There are certainly more expensive Indian restaurants than any of those, even though Ray whines about how crappy and cheap and run by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis they are.

He keeps referring to Spanish restaurants, but these are extremely rare in the US, with the most common ones being tapas joints, which are not all that expansive. Good Spanish restaurants do tend to be expensive, but they are very hard to find.

And Italian restaurants? The country is full of inexpensive (and not very good) Italian restaurants. We even have chains of them (see Olive Grove). It is far from obvious to me that the average prices at Italian restaurants in the US are all that much higher than the average prices in Indian restaurants. I will grant that at the top end, which is overrepresented in New York City, prices in Italian restaurants exceed those for the top end Indian ones, but those top end Italian restaurants are not all that common outside a few major urban areas in the US. Mostly it is Olive Grove equivalents or worse.

Perhaps French and Japanese restaurants are overpriced, although French restaurants are not all that common (albeit more so than Spanish ones). Japanese have become much more common, with relatively inexpensive sushi (of very low quality) now being sold in grocery stores in nowhere places. As with mkt42 it is my impression that Koreans are much more likely to be found running Japanese restaurants than Chinese. I find it astounding that such an ignorant fool as this Roy is in the position he is in, and Ferdman simply shows what a fool he is to repeat this nonsensical drivel.

I will agree with the obvious argument that cuisines in the US are likely to be underpriced if they come from poor countries that are sending poor people to the US. The economics of this are just obvious, and my reaction is so what? Indeed, on this I think Tyler does a good job of steering people to some of the better cuisines where prices are low precisely for this reason.

Regarding Chinese cuisine, well, it is pretty funny that a CIA grad is so ignorant about Chinese cuisine, but aside from the general story of lots of poor immigrants coming in from China, there is also a long history of Chinese cuisine here that became Americanized a long time ago, yeah, chop suey and chow mein. Same thing has happened with Chinese cuisine elsewhere, which I learned over four decades ago when I was eating in Chinese restaurants in small British towns: lots of dishes one never sees in either the US or China there. Increasingly one is seeing more regional variety of Chinese cuisine in the US, with those old chow mein joints largely going out of business. There are even in some places (mostly California) some higher priced Chinese restaurants, although as with Indian not yet matching the very highest priced restaurants.

Oh, and as for the French and the Japanese being high priced, the top ones in their own countries are among the highest priced restaurants anywhere in the world.

Bottom line, the only things right about this article/interview are just obvious and silly things such as that cuisines from poor countries with poor people coming to the US tend not to be highly priced in the US. Duuuuuuh.

It's cockadoodledoo Barkly Rooster here. Pfft why doesn't the author of this article have a semi-notable father he's named after so people would recognize his name. And even then he should spend his time trolling fellow professors websites to up his name recognition.

Either way part of the reason I picked my patented space bar bead is that it lets me sample various ethnic cuisines without getting saffron stains in my beard. Here's a tip readers rhe highest status foods are 3rd World landlocked counties like Laos, Krgyzstan, and Chad.

Whenever I walk into an ethnic restaurant I like to shout out the capital city or cities if it's a Beninese restaurant (which isn't often because-sea coast). Most of the time the waiters know I'm a happening dude because of my space bar beard, but when I walk into a Chadienne (French spelling natch) restaurant and shout out N'Dajema you can tell the waiters know that this one downtown soul cat.

Oh gosh, Barkly Rooster, this is sort of pathetic. I have seen more amusing snarks on me than this, but... ;

So, if you were really on top of things you would have cited my satire on Tyler's ethnic dining guide (linked to without comment by Tyler), which was pretty bad and out there. Hey, various brilliant commentators in various parts of the econoblogosherospace declared that it showed that I was completely nuts. Indeed, one even declared that it must have been written while I "was on acid." If only.

Nice try, Barkly Rooster, although your "Chadienne" schtick is moderately amusing.

3: One reason why we love "ethnic food" is exactly because of the price ceiling. A bit of searching means we can eat excellent Indian or Thai at $13/plate. French and Japanese food will shoot through that ceiling when it's excellent, which removes it as an option for most casual occasions.

It's worth wondering about the lack of genuinely upscale Chinese and Indian restaurants. On an econ blog, we can speculate that most of what you pay for in upscale restaurants is not the food, but the upscale ambiance and the signaling possibilities associated with it. For better or worse, in the American imagination, a genuinely special occasion (a necessary condition for going somewhere expensive) happens around wine, so it makes sense to host it only in places where wine seems at home (Euro-continental). Going upscale with ambiance (and price) is just not likely to pay off for the Indian restauranteur, because it will either look too posh (so inauthentic) or too ethnic (so not transparently upscale).

Of course, there are pure American foodies who choose restaurants strictly by the quality of what's on the plate, and aim to optimize quality/price without regard to other factors. For the wealthier among them, the quality ceiling on low-status ethnic food is a genuine cost. But I suspect that these people are rare, and even they do not dine exclusively with partners who share their utility functions.

New York has more upscale Chinese joints than you can shake a stick at, and I regard the Gaylord India chain as upscale.

"Here in the United States, when you buy "ethnic food," you're essentially buying it from people who learn to cook it on the fly, mostly men, who have often never cooked back home. What ends up happening is they hide technical deficiencies behind salt, butter, and fat. That's the food we have gotten used to. Here, Indian food is associated with relatively greasy, spicy, one-dimensional cooking. But that's cooking done by folks who actually aren't that familiar with traditional cooking, especially in the domestic context, which is so important to Indian cuisine."

Uh, buddy, I think you've answered your own question about why people are willing to pay so little for it. There are plenty of upscale Indian restaurants in a place like Manhattan where people are willing to pay a lot of money for authentic Indian food in this vein, but these types of restaurants don't exist outside of big metro areas.

A restaurant serving strangers for money prepares food very differently from a personal family. This isn't just Indian and Chinese food, that's every ethnicity/nationality. Every family prepares their own meals, very few of them open up a restaurant to serve strangers food for money, and when they do so, the logistics and motivations are very different.

While we're all bashing 3, I'll point out a couple more things:

1) Greek food seems hard to put into this hierarchy. The best Greek food in the U.S. tends to be either very cheap (your local gyro/souvlaki joint) or incredibly expensive (places like Komi in DC).
2) Non-trivial numbers of exceptions on the high end too, especially in big cities with high-end dining cultures. I think of Little Serow in DC for example.

I agree with #3.

Another reason people pretend to love ethnic food is so that they can talk about where they eat and why in the comments.

As opposed to a passive aggressive picky eater?

#5) "The successful pair was prolific, though: in 20 of the [24] trials, the same two adult males worked together to open the food canister in a matter of 30 seconds. In the other four trials, one of the dolphins managed to solve the problem on its own, but this was much trickier and took longer to execute."

Obviously, these two dolphins are either privileged or just lucky. There certainly can't be anything such as skill. Who knew that dolphins live in such inequality-promoting, classed-based societies?

Those dolphins don't get to stack the deck in their favour. They have to "win" every time playing by the same rules as the other dolphins, starting from the same stating points, looking at the same opportunities and networks as their peers.

As Rousseau pointed out, the differences in nature are generally rather small, and it is in society that they became highly exaggerated over time.

You're arguing against your own point. The dolphins don't have the deck stacked in their favor and yet, somehow, the "natural differences" between the two dolphins and the rest is quite large. One can believe that these differences have been exaggerated by dolphin society only if one believes that the two high-achieving dolphins are somehow privileged. (On the other hand, the high achievers are both male, so maybe dolphin society is just very sexist....)

I'm not arguing against my own point. I acknowledge that there are natural differences that lead to different outcomes (ignoring effort, different goals, etc.).

However, due to institutions, such as property, or how elites are more in charge of setting the rules than others, it is possible (likely, almost guaranteed) for even small differences to accumulate over years and generations, and generally people with more resources try to stack the deck in their favour.

if you really believe the differences are natural, then why not support a 100% inheritance tax? The cream will rise to the top, no?

Because "the cream" will then focus its efforts on evading and or capturing that estate taxation, rather than being productive with their inherited resources.

Just as you point out above, but more so, given more to be gained. Again, arguing against yourself.

3. He's calling us food hipsters.

We want to look cool and trendy when it comes to ethnic food, but we actually don't understand it and won't pay much for it.

#3 could have been interesting if they didn't try to shoehorn the question into the white guilt framework.

The bit about ethnic food being bad because it is made by mostly male immigrants without cooking experience is interesting to contrast with the other article Tyler posted about workers from Central America churning out top-quality Vietnamese food at several Eden Center restaurants.

#1: Most right wingers hate Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln centralized power from states to the federal level and literally massacred thousands of American civilians to do that. Lincoln is against everything the good right wingers stand for.

Ron Paul and Rand Paul are well known Lincoln bashers. Put John Wilkes Booth on the $5!!!

"Lincoln is against everything the good right wingers stand for."
Emancipating Black people, you mean? Get over it already!

Great snarky retort. You must have studied history a lot to parrot that sentence fragment summary.

3) I know there are plenty of exceptions. But the American palette basically revolves around sugar, salt and fat. So when ethnic restaraunteurs make their menus for the American palette, you get lots of salty, deep fried stuff with sweet sauces. Which obviously isn't worth a lot of money, and which doesn't require a lot of skill to prepare.

However, the point seems quite interesting. For me, it was the price point of ethnic foods that initially drew me to them. For the same price, you can generally obtain food of vastly superior quality compared to what you get at the same price point for a food of European origin. Well, maybe this proves the point that people undervalue them, but this also provides lots of good deals for people on a budget. I don't refuse to pay $20 for Indian because I disrespect it, it's because I know I can get it for $10 somewhere else.

(Also, the ingredients and methods for the dishes I like are not costly. I know because I learned to cook many of them at a time when I was on a very tight budget. Why should I pay $20 or $50 for what's basically beans, rice and basic vegetables with some spices?)

"you get lots of salty, deep fried stuff with sweet sauces. Which obviously isn’t worth a lot of money, and which doesn’t require a lot of skill to prepare."

While I generally agree with this, one surprising interview that I read (sorry I don't have the cite handy) was of some big-shot gourmet Chinese chef who was visiting the US. The reporter asked him how he evaluates new chefs, and his answer was he asked them to make sweet and sour pork (or maybe sweet and sour chicken, whatever). AFAICT he meant the Americanized dish, not some Chinese dish that they've been making for hundreds of years. Because when the reporter said "really?" the chef replied that it's a challenge to balance those disparate flavors and cooking techniques, and thus a good way to evaluate the applicant's skills.

So maybe we've been eating low quality sweet and sour Chinese dishes all this time. But despite what that chef said, I suspect it's not a matter of skill and technique, I think they're dumb Americanized recipes. It's like trying to make a well-balanced gourmet version of KFC's DoubleDown sandwiches, another testament to the American craze for fat and salt laden meat-centered dishes.

All human food is ultimately carbs, fat, and protein, sure.

Fancy restaurants can usually cook stuff that is not easy too cook at home. Cheaper restaurants generally cater to convenience.

3) The only somewhat upscale Indian restaurants I've been to are in China. One was a production of international traders whose Indian clients wouldn't come to town because they didn't like Chinese food, so the traders hired a really good Indian chef and opened a restaurant that was somewhat expensive, but some of the best value I've seen in Indian food anywhere (including India). Another was in an expat district of Beijing where the difference between costs and willingness to pay of relatively highly paid expats made it easy for them to go upscale.

Since the market for Indian food in China is mostly highly paid Westerners and fairly wealthy Indian traders (who might accidentally find there way to such a place once or twice), there is also high risk of significantly overpaying for very low quality food.

#3: This food writer must have been born yesterday.

Restaurants are not museums. They sell food for money. That's it.

This writer would probably walk into a US ice cream store and be horrified that even the staff doesn't know the origins of ice cream, no one has read full length books on ice cream or read any recent academic journal articles on ice cream, no one is familiar with the types of ice cream eaten by George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. All the customers want to do is purchase and masticate ice cream based on made up flavor names and brand appeal.

"The Chinese have been writing about food since long before the French, a thousand years before the French were writing about food extensively."

The food writer is genuinely shocked that customers don't care about thousands of years of food history and would rather get General Tso's Chicken takeout.

This writer says eaters are ignorant of food history. It is he who is ignorant of the food service industry.

For a cuisine to go upscale, it seems that it either needs to come from a country where there are enough wealthy people to sustain a market in upscale restaurants before they spread overseas or else bits and pieces of it get appropriated in upscale international fusion cuisine of some sort. It seems this process is happening with several non-French, Italian or Japanese cuisines and will likely continue.

To follow on what Barkley Rosser said about Italian, New Jersey and New York are full of Italian-American restaurants that make even the Olive Garden look like fine dining. Not to mention that a lot of American pizza is sold for fast food prices while still very much retaining its ethnic Italian roots in the Northeast. When a cuisine becomes fully accepted and adapted to a local market, it can manifest itself in the form of both cheap domesticated knock-offs and five-star cuisine.

>New Jersey and New York are full of Italian-American restaurants that make even the Olive Garden look like fine dining

They are also full of Italian-American restaurants that are very cheap and very good. There is nothing quite like the thrill of pulling off the Connecticut Turnpike into a rundown, greasy-looking town and getting fantastic pizza and pasta at a local no-name eatery.

No. For an upscale, high end restaurant to succeed, just give the customers what they want. High end diners want creative, fancy food, service, and atmosphere. They mostly don't care about the ethnic label, or how authentic it is.

I've eaten at many high end, pricey restaurants branded as Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Peruvian, or Brazilian. Also, some don't even use an ethnic/nationality label, they just make awesome dishes without even pretending to care about accurately portraying an ethnic group.

#3 It's been said before, and I will say it again, there are many cuisines people like in the West like because they are good at inexpensive, flavoursome, mainly vegetable based dishes without expensive proteins and prepared cheaply without too skill (getting the most out advantage of Wok Hei, and MSG, and garlic). Asian food, supplemented with a little fast food technique of meat, sugar and deep frying, pretty much is that to Westerners to a large degree.

Once you get past those dishes, Asian food doesn't have as much of a comparative advantage, at the high end.

Now why should it? It's sad for those that want to be a professional high level chef cooking Indian food or gourmet Chinese, but if the comparative advantage isn't there, it isn't there. If people generally want to eat complex food that fits their palette better, then it's just like that and all the whining about how unfair it is, because your food is so successful at the baseline, cheap food level, isn't going to change that.

Asian food? The continent stretches from Istanbul to Vladivostok, Franz Josef Island to Singapore and is inhabited by billions of people that speak many different languages and eat all kinds of different foods. Describing a cuisine as "Asian" is a meaningless waste of phonemes.

If you prefer more specificity, the cuisines of the Asian nations along the ocean facing rim of the continent from India to China, and also from insular Southeast Asian, that have made significant inroads to mass consumption in Western nations.

a meaningless waste of phonemes.

So true. Alas, it is not the only term of which that can be said.

Denise Herzing's TED talk on dolphin communication

The argument about ethnic foods is an apples to oranges comparison. Uninventive "American" food is similarly low priced (see burgers, hot dogs, etc.) Inventive ethnic food, likewise is not inexpensive, as small plate, fancy sushi, and fusion restaurants can attest to. Similarly, Italian food can be inexpensive (pizza, lasagna) or very costly at a fancier, fine dining restaurant. Our willingness to pay more has to do with the creativity, complexity, and atmosphere of the meal, more than the cost of the involved food-stuffs; ie. you can only charge more if the food and/or experience is unique.

Comments for this post are closed