Food for Thought

The class presentation about Thai gastrodiplomacy brought up an interesting subject: perceptions about food’s value (how much you’re willing to pay) and the region it originates from. Why are we willing to pay top dollar for French cuisine or Spanish tapas, but unwilling to shell out a lot of cash for Mexican or Thai food? How much of our willingness to pay more for certain kinds of cuisines informed by global north vs. global south or developed vs. developing structures and prejudices? One thought I has was that ingredients in French cuisine might be more expensive than Mexican cuisine (think about all those fancy cheeses). I think this is an interesting question worth more exploration. Anyone have any thoughts on this?



One thought on “Food for Thought

  1. MS says:

    When we sat down to interview Penny, the manager of Sala Thai Petworth, we had no idea of the thought provoking comment she would make about the price people are willing to pay for Thai food vs certain other ethnic foods. Our group had a long discussion afterwards about the truth in her comment. I do not think any of us had ever thought about different ethnic foods in that context.

    When I think of certain foods – French, German, Japanese – I acknowledge that I will probably be spending a lot of money to eat a high quality meal at a fancy restaurant. However, when I think of other foods – Mexican, Thai, and Chinese – I instinctively think about a delicious, yet cheap, hole in the wall type place. Part of this may be because the countries where these “expensive” foods come from are also expensive to visit, while foods from “cheap” countries are seen as cheap to visit. I frequently hear about how I can travel through Thailand on dollars a day, or I can eat in Mexico for less than a dollar. But when I think of France or Germany, I think top dollar travel. Although those perceptions might be true when it comes to traveling to those countries, it might not be true when it comes to importing the food to the US.

    As we learned when it came to the Thai food, most restaurants have to start from canned bases. It is partially because some of the spices cannot easily be found in the US. It is also because making the bases can be very time consuming and very expensive. If most people are not willing to pay high prices for food, then taking the time and money to make everything from scratch will simply put you out of business.

    ~ MS


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