[Note from Chowhound Team: this posting was moved from a thread, linked below, because it had digressed to being off topic for a regional message board]
Jim, I totally agree with every point you make except one: regarding the relative costs of different cuisines.
There are some cuisines, or some cuisines as they are served in commercial establishments in NY or the U.S., that depend on cheaper and more readily available ingredients. It's why lots of Chinese food is cheaper than say, French food. The average Chinese entree (regardless of how well it may or may not be made) will have a lower basic ingredient cost, and will be prepared in a lot less time than say, confit of duck with frisee salad.
Middle eastern food compares in the same way, or at least alot of the more common preparations do. Kofta is a burger.