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Customer Review

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good discussion peice, May 16, 2012
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This review is from: An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies (Hardcover)
This is a nice light read that splits time between 1) How American food got bad but is improving 2) How to find good places to eat and 3) Critiquing some of the modern food trends, in particular the "locovore" trend. It is more of a one-economist's opinion more than it is a real research report, but his opinions are for the most part well-thought out and this makes a nice intro or (in my case) refresher on economic principles. It also provides an alternative viewpoint to much of the current literature that seems to expect everyone to become dietary experts.

Strengths
-Entertaining and easy to read
-Provides a lot of interesting discussion topics, and does so in a way that is very accessible
-Lots of great tips, background information, and interesting factoids. I found myself noticing things like all my favorite places to eat being in the unanchored, off drag, suburban strip malls he recommends. Keep in mind though that these are generalities, so take them as suggestions rather than rules
-Gives a good concise history regarding food in this country, that I think gives some context to the overall food debates
-Makes a good critique of modern food literature for those of us who think most of current food trends are impractical
-If you live in the DC area, it's extra nice because he talks about so many places by name (he talks about a lot of places, but not as extensively)

Weaknesses
-As mentioned, this isn't exactly a scholarly work, so there are no citations, etc.
-He does miss some things, and knowledgeable readers will probably know more about some topics than Cowen does. For instance, he has a section on picking authentic Chinese restaurants that was good, but honestly, as someone who has quite a bit of experience with Chinese-family dining I think I actually could have written it as well or better(example: one thing I do when seeking good Chinese is to try to go with a group, since Chinese dining tends to be a social thing where they eat family style and don't split the check, and thus specials as well as the better sides tend to be designed as part of a meal rather than a stand-alone --Cowen misses this and a couple other points). I would assume the same ideas apply to Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.
-Some parts of the book are really only useful if you are wealthy and/or a prolific traveler. Sorry, the parts about $300 French meals in Japan being better than they are in France is of absolutely no use to me
-It does scattershoot a bit and sort of has a blog-to-book feel at times (I do recommend Cowen's food blog, though)

Overall, great for foodies or for anyone who just wants an accessible, enjoyable book about economics. I would recommend it for anyone who wants something that's enjoyable, informative, and not too heavy.
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