Why is it that people are willing to spend $20 on a bowl of pasta with sauce that they might actually be able to replicate pretty faithfully at home, yet they balk at the notion of a white-table cloth Thai restaurant, or a tacos that cost more than $3 each? Even in a city as “cosmopolitan” as New York, restaurant openings like Tamarind Tribeca (Indian) and Lotus of Siam (Thai) always seem to elicit this knee-jerk reaction from some diners who have decided that certain countries produce food that belongs in the “cheap eats” category—and it’s not allowed out. (Side note: How often do magazine lists of “cheap eats” double as rundowns of outer-borough ethnic foods?)
Yelp, Chowhound, and other restaurant sites are littered with comments like, “$5 for dumplings?? I’ll go to Flushing, thanks!” or “When I was backpacking in India this dish cost like five cents, only an idiot would pay that much!” Yet you never see complaints about the prices at Western restaurants framed in these terms, because it’s ingrained in people’s heads that these foods are somehow “worth” more. If we’re talking foie gras or chateaubriand, fair enough. But be real: You know damn well that rigatoni sorrentino is no more expensive to produce than a plate of duck laab, so to decry a pricey version as a ripoff is disingenuous. This question of perceived value is becoming increasingly troublesome as more non-native (read: white) chefs take on “ethnic” cuisines, and suddenly it’s okay to charge $14 for shu mai because hey, the chef is ELEVATING the cuisine.
One of the entries from the list ‘20 Things Everyone Thinks About the Food World (But Nobody Will Say)’.
Real. As. Fuck.
And real talk, I wish there was a Clueless Whitebread Muhfuckas filter on Yelp, because they stay talking stupid shit about places around my way.
Let’s also talk about how if there is a white face in front of these foods, that person can get more money because this is now a “sophisticated version made by whiteys”, but if people are doing their own shit it needs to be cheap like it is back in the country.
Same thing about soul food being horrible and cheap and harmful to your health until some pasty trick decides to put it on the menu in their mediocre ass white table-cloth restaurant where they charge $20 for a plate of turnip greens and corn bread!!
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