May 18, 12
Read from April 20 to 24, 2012
What I like about pop-culture economics books is how they look between the lines at trends, studies, statistics, etc, and unpack them in an interesting and accessible way. This book struck me as more anecdotal without any real evidence to back up its claims. For example, going to one ethnic grocery store for a month is drawn into an entire painful chapter of conclusions and commentary. Without a doubt, the author loves food and getting off the beaten path to find quality eats that may not always come from the most obvious places. But for whatever reason, he comes across as an awkward balance between Anthony Bourdain and Michael Pollan, and Mark Bittman, all of whom are better writers.
The most interesting part of the book was the brief exploration of the development of food culture in the United States going back to prohibition and WWII. But it's a bit contradictory when the author claims that the best food can be found at low-scale spots around the country but at the same time the inability of fancy high-end restaurants to serve alcohol in the 1920s curbed the development of American cuisine.