Tyler Cowen's book, An Economist Gets Lunch
, is a sprawling romp through the world of contemporary American food. His subjects and ideas range from the belief that expensive food does not necessarily equal good food and that Americans should patronize a range of culturally diverse restaurants, to the notion that Asian supermarkets ought to be frequented in lieu of farmer's markets and that microwaves receive an undeserved bad reputation. Whereas books like Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food
can be summed up succinctly (in Pollan's case, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."), Cowen's take on food culture is surprisingly diffuse and diluted, though it stands out as a proponent of ethnic dining.
Portions of An Economist Gets Lunch
could be excerpted to make wonderful editorials because Cowen's chapters are crafted as fairly self-sustaining entities...
Beyond the Book
In An Economist Gets Lunch
, Tyler Cowen frequently references writers who have shaped the way people think about the culinary arts. These writers are not chefs, but critics who look at the role food plays in modern society. The field has grown so popular that there are actually specialist courses teaching the art of food writing. Understanding a little bit about the following food critics can enhance a reader's experience of eating, dining, and food criticism in general:
- MFK Fisher: Born in Michigan in 1908, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher explored France's culinary traditions in Dijon from 1928 through 1932. She then moved to California and over the following decades continued to work, write, teach and travel, exploring the culinary worlds of Vevey...