Category Archives: Books

Dining out as cultural trade

By Joel Waldfogel, here is the abstract: Perceptions of Anglo-American dominance in movie and music trade motivate restrictions on cultural trade. Yet, the market for another cultural good, food at restaurants, is roughly ten times larger than the markets for … Continue reading

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*The Food of Sichuan,* by Fuchsia Dunlop

A new and considerably updated edition of the classic Land of Plenty. For my money, one of the best and most valuable books ever produced. Pre-order here. And here is my Conversation with Fuchsia Dunlop. Originally posted on Marginal Revolution … Continue reading

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Do land use restrictions increase restaurant quality and diversity?

Daniel Shoag and Stan Veuger say yes, but I am not so convinced. It turns out that metrics of land use restrictions are correlated with restaurant quality, across cities. To cut to the chase, Los Angeles ranks number one on … Continue reading

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Discussions about restaurants in the New York Times

The data start in 1880 and run through 2013. Based on my visual reading of the chart, discussion of Chinese restaurants appears to have peaked in the 1940s (!). German restaurants are the biggest loser over time, with plunges during … Continue reading

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*Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China*

That will be the new Fuchsia Dunlop book, due out in October, July in the UK, self-recommending. Her work is far more than recipes, but rather an extended meditation on food, history, culture and many other things. She is one … Continue reading

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The Aztec diet was more nutritious than it may seem at first

Colin M. MacLachlan, in his splendid Imperialism and the Origins of Mexican Culture, reports: 1. Corn gruel and tamales were reinforced with fish, seeds of various kinds, fruit, and honey. 2. Beans were supplemented with meat from iguanas, armadillos, and … Continue reading

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*The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu*

That is the new and excellent book by Dan Jurafsky, due out this September, and I found it interesting throughout. Here is just one bit: In fact, the more Yelp reviewers mention dessert, the more they like the restaurant. Reviewers … Continue reading

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Do Americans prefer hand-held foods?

Abigail Carroll opines: Are there any dishes or foods that you would classify as typically, or even exclusively, “American?” A number of iconic foods—hot dogs and hamburgers, snack food—are hand-held. They’re novelties associated with entertainment. These are the kinds of … Continue reading

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Lines are overrated, and totally empty restaurants are underrated

Some readers (or journalists) ask me if I have further principles for finding good food which are not outlined in my ethnic dining guide or in An Economist Gets Lunch. Of course I do, though many of them are not … Continue reading

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Michael Pollan’s “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation”

Here is the bottom line: The premise of this book is that cooking — defined broadly enough to take in the whole spectrum of techniques people have devised for transforming the raw stuff of nature into nutritious and appealing things … Continue reading

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