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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8406/chez-schumpeter-creative-destruction-in-the-kitchen/

Chez Schumpeter: Creative Destruction in the Kitchen

August 17, 2008 by

In the last couple of years I have developed an interest in food as a metaphor for economic and social progress. I don’t have much to add to what Tyler Cowen and others have already written on the subject, but I can offer some personal case studies. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be experimenting with leftovers and some of the provisions I bought during a Sam’s Club buying spree a few months ago. I claim no expertise, particularly since I don’t have any culinary training, but if these ideas can be improved on by abler hands I would be happy to hear about it. Experiment #1, which involves leftover noodle soup from Pho Saigon and barbecue from Germantown Commissary, is discussed below the fold (cross-posted at www.divisionoflabour.com).Pho Saigon is a Vietnamese restaurant near our house that offers one of the best quality-per-dollar ratios we’ve come across. A large bowl of noodle soup is $6.49. The first time we ate there, we each got two meals each just from the leftovers. Some friends visited from Saint Louis yesterday, so a couple of us went to Pho Saigon to get take-out. Yesterday afternoon, some friends from our Sunday School class dropped off barbecue from Germantown Commissary for our dinner.*

This afternoon I decided to see how the barbecue would go with the leftover soup. Pork is, after all, one of the soup options at Pho Saigon, so I thought that perhaps the flavor of the soup and the flavor of the smoked pork would complement one another. I mixed together broth, noodles, and pulled pork and microwaved the concoction on high for a few minutes. I found that they went extremely well together, and I will probably try similar experiments with Ramen noodles after our leftovers run out. As I expected, adding barbecue sauce to part of the mixture decreased rather than increased the quality. Given that hoisin sauce, peanut sauce, and chili sauce improve a noodle bowl in my humble opinion, I’m not sure exactly what it is about spicy barbecue sauce that makes it unsuitable for inclusion in a noodle bowl.

Contrast the experimental nature of the market process to the centralized nature of economic (or cultural) planning, licensing, and regulation. Planners could argue for eons about whether pho noodles and pulled pork are really two great tastes that taste great together, but we can’t know for certain unless someone has the freedom to try it. In her book “The Future and Its Enemies,” Virginia Postrel writes about how Vidal Sassoon defied hairstyling conventions and was hounded by regulators and bureaucrats because of certification problems. This raises a question: if we had a government boards of culinary standards the way we have boards of cosmetology, would we get innovations like barbecue nachos with the speed that we do? I’m inclined to think not.

*People from our Sunday School class have brought us a few meals to help smooth out our baby-induced lifestyle inversion. It’s been great: the food has been very good and very plentiful. I’ll have more to say on social capital and risk-sharing later.

{ 1 comment }

IMHO August 18, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Now that the government has succeeded in regulating transfats out of our diet, I’m sure that it is only a matter of time before their presence is felt ever more strongly in our kitchens.

As for combining different ethnic foods:

Many cultures use fruit in the prepartion of their meats as well as vinegars and wines; i.e. marinades. Garlic, salt and pepper are universal. But there are many ingredients that are pretty specific for certain kinds of cuisine, and you have to be careful when mixing them.

Not too long ago, Asian friends of ours came to our house for a barbecue and brought with them a large serving of dumplings. The dumplings were light and tasty. They made the rest of the meal seem very heavy by comparison.

As a result of this experience, I have been giving a great deal of thought to the foods that I prepare and am currently teaching myself about Asian food. I prefer the ingredients to many of those used in Western foods, the only exceptions being that of pastas with olive oil/pesto or fresh vegetables with garlic, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and Italian/French herbs. I have also switched from pork sausage to chicken sausage (the fat content is lower, the taste is lighter, but watch the sodium).

As I have already mentioned, Asian dishes tend to be lighter in texture than Western foods.

Asian foods are prepared with oils, whereas traditional Western foods frequently call for butter.

Very few traditional Western recipes I know of use sesame oil or ginger root. These ingredients give food a distinctly Eastern flavor. I should also mention that balsamic vinegar gives foods a distinctly Meditteranean/Middle Eastern flavor.

Finally, the rice used in Eastern dishes is VERY different from the rice used in Western dishes. In the East, wheat is used primarily in noodles and dumplings. There are no loaves of bread and tubs of butter on Asian tables (at least not that I know of).

And for those who say that Asian food is loaded with sodium, here is an alternative. Instead of soy sauce, add sesame oil infused with chili. I use it with chicken and vegetable dishes, and I find it to be delicious. Best of all, the meal can be sodium free with no loss of flavor.

Obviously, my opinions are completely subjective, and I welcome your feedback.

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