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An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies Hardcover – 19 Jul 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: E P Dutton & Co Inc (19 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525952667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525952664
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.4 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 641,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'The author's heart, or rather stomach, is in the right place. He has a winning enthusiasm for sampling exotic cuisines... All told, Mr Cowen makes for an engaging guide to the kitchens of the world. Foodies will enjoy his insights.' --- Economist --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By edward on 26 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I also read the review in the economist and did not think it sounds that interesting. After reading the end the end of average i decided to read this book. Its ok for what it is. For a food book some anyalis. If people look happy or a restrant if full of beautiful women tyler advises the food may not be brilliant as people will go for the happy social seen or the beautful women so restrant can reduce quality of food. I found it interesting but kinda true what said about london basically good food at low price not so easy. Although in Uk did say bradford and curry restrants a good opion. I have noticed this also in bradford great curry at a great price.

You could also be to be amusing apply the anyalis in reverse. If want somewhere with beautiful women or with good social sense go somewhere the food is bad value or price.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Miran Ali VINE VOICE on 27 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
I bought this book based on the stellar review in the Economist.

Well I was mislead. This is a book entirely for and about Americans. And even at that it isn't particularly good.

The author will wax rhapsodic about suburban strip mall ethnic cuisine, prohibition and the decline of American dining and how to find the best BBQ. I stuck through it for a good while but eventually the mind numbing parochialism of the book just wore me down.

Also the economic aspects of the book are presented as they would be for a 14 year old child. Simplistic and obvious.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At times a bit laborious, but if you skip those parts that are not applicable to your country or interests, some enlightening and thought-provoking opinions and propositions.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 56 reviews
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Sort of like "Moneyball" for the food enthusiast 12 April 2012
By Eric - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've read 4 of Tyler Cowen's books, and this one is definitely my favorite. Much of Cowen's popular writing involves applying economic reasoning to the decisions we make in our everyday lives, and this book is no exception. Food is an especially suitable topic for this kind of approach. After all, we make decisions about what (and how) to eat multiple times every day, and Cowen encourages us to weigh these decisions so as to make every meal count. We might think of this kind of writing as having two complementary goals: (1) the stated goal of using economics to offer guidance on a particular question of interest, in this case how to eat well; and more subtly, (2) to use the problem at hand (how to eat well) to teach something about economic principles to a broader, perhaps unsuspecting audience. My verdict is that this book delivers strongly on both.

Whether you approach it as a food enthusiast looking for a new perspective on finding quality meals or as an fan of popular economics writing interested in a new application for these ideas, you'll find plenty to enjoy and learn from in this book. It's more methodical, more to the point, and less pretentious than most food writing and more fun and practical than virtually all economics writing.

Most of Cowen's advice flows directly out of the book's central mantra: "Food is a product of economic supply and demand, so try to figure out where the supplies are fresh, the suppliers are creative, and the demanders are informed." Although this may sound like a rather professorial maxim, the spirit of the book is lighthearted and entertaining and Cowen doesn't hesitate to venture beyond economic certitudes to offer some more speculative tips ("Eat at a Thai restaurant that is attached to a motel," for example, or "The more aggressively religious the decor [in a Pakistani restaurant], the better it will be for the food"). When the book ventures into more serious territory, such as discussions of eating to reduce your environmental impact or the issues surrounding GMOs, I read Cowen as being more playfully contrarian than political or ideological. Some of his views may not accord with those of many of his readers (Cowen leans libertarian. I don't, for what it's worth), but if he intends to provoke us a bit he doesn't do so angrily or peremptorily.

Skeptical readers might look at the book's approach and find something cute or amusing in the economic reasoning, but remain dubious that Cowen's suggestions will lead to improved dining experiences. To conclude with a bit of empirical support for the Cowen method, I'll mention that I'm a resident of the Washington, DC area and have used Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide regularly for several years now. The Dining Guide has led me to a number of gems I would never have otherwise found, and I can't think of an occasion where it's led me astray either. I already owe more quality meals to Cowen than to virtually any other writer, and I suspect the rules from this latest book will leave me even deeper in his debt.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
So much potential, but ... 9 Aug. 2012
By Bruce Harrington - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Two of my great interests, food writing and economics, brought together in one book seemed like a sure bet. It almost was for the first two or three chapters. George Mason economist Tyler Cowen makes it immediately clear that he isn't interested in food snobbery or pretentiousness. He just wants a good meal at a fair price. These are the two points every dining location, every food preparation method, and every discussion revolve around. Unfortunately, this rhythm neither strays far from these two points nor is clarified. Strange as it seems, Cowen works from principles to conclusions and spares or skips the data. For example in a section on raw ingredients he announces, "The American restaurants with excellent fresh ingredients -- the ones good enough to serve naked on the plate -- commonly cost fifty dollars and up for dinner." He cites a Sushi restaurant as evidence, but muddles his point as he takes you through an odyssey of caveats.

More disappointing is how Cowen fails to bring insight into the two issues he focuses on, food prices and food quality. His chapter on finding a good place to eat only meanders around old territory and common knowledge: restaurants have huge margins on booze and soda, casinos subsidize food because they make up for it by gambling, and hospitals don't have an incentive to make good food so most don't. We don't even learn much about what he means by "good" or "bad" food.

Save your money and buy something else.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Longer than necessary, not very well put together, but very good anyway 8 Sept. 2012
By Diogo F - Published on
Format: Hardcover
People are right when they say the chapters lack a backbone supporting it. I wasn't able to figure out which criteria ruled the sequence, as sometimes the subjects come out of the blue. Even though it feels better reading ideas which go on building some higher rationale, I don't see why it hurts to just read a set of random thoughts on a subject of your interest, provided they're well written and insightful, which is definitely the case.

Don't expect it to go right to the point, as the rhythm is intended to match some kind of personal report full of humor and anecdote. That is: it's at least twice the length necessary. But that can be an upside too - you may read it in a lighthearted manner and skip some unappealing sections.

Don't expect, also, it to resemble hard science in any way. It will feel like reading an hour-long set of blog posts on some pleasant and contemporaneous topics. Good read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
no did like 4 April 2014
By Caraculiambro - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kind of a big Cowen fan here, I'd say. I regularly check his website and have read, I think, all of his books.

I stopped, though, after this one. I found it pretentious and self-indulgent. Basically a "holier than thou" quest for food "authenticity." How Cowen needs to read Heath and Potter's "Nation of Rebels"!

However, there was one good chapter. In fact, it was so good, I read it twice: "Eating Your Way to a Greener World." Would that the entire book had been just an expansion of the thinking in that chapter!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Some good information...but not much 10 July 2012
By June - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I had high hopes for this book because of a Wall Street Journal article. Most chapters start out okay but do not seem to have a lot of real content so the author uses a lot of filler which makes for a boing read. The Barbecue chapter is a case in point--a few interesting facts on barbecue taking a long time and so on, then the rest is filler. "Eating Your Way to a Greener Planet", the 8th chapter suddenly takes us on a global warming side trip that does not make a lot sense in the greater context of the book and it assumes we all believe in global warming. This brings on a moralistic list of things we should do to minimize our carbon footprint most of which would have a meaningless impact as in, "Every time you substitute some canned sardines for junk food, just about everyone is better off--most of all you--and you're again showing that every meal counts."

This book seems to be written by a well-known author whose time has come to publish, so he re-worked assorted, previously written stuff, quickly combined it into a book, and sent it off to the publisher. Like a mediocre recipe the ingredients don't seem to blend together for a good final product.
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