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General Discussion

Thoughts on the evolution of "Peasant Food?"

tastyjon | May 22, 200711:42 PM     56

It's kind of interesting to see how "peasant food" from many regions globally manifests itself into pricier dishes in other parts of the world. And when I say peasant, I don't mean it as a negative thing. Maybe "native" or "local" would be less pejorative - but still dishes familiar and affordable to most in certain regions. For example:

- Italian: Flour + water + cheap local ingredient = affordable pasta dish for everyday familes over decades. In most major cities these days, a fancy restaurant might offer a simple pasta dish for $15 and many would hardly raise an eyebrow. Note: I'm not talking about a dish with an extravigant ingredient - just basic stuff.

- Mexican: Beans, rice & something can cost next to nothing or cost a good deal depending on location - and the price is often inverse to taste/authenticity.

- Thai. If Pad Thai is a barometer dish, then I'm not sure why some places have a great offering for $3.99 while others are $15.

On the flip side, these might be underpirced:

- Indian. In Western cities, the dishes might be dumbed down or served buffet style, but even then you can get stuffed with great food for little cost. Ever tried to make Indian at home? You'll need a about 30 spices for one dish! For that reason alone I give them props.

- Chinese. Very diverse. Often very dumbed down. But even at the most authetic places, very inexpensive for the quality and variety of food.

- Vietnamese. Stunningly good and almost always stunningly priced, even in the priciest of cities, Downtown LA, San Fran, etc. you can get a killer lunch for under $5. In fact, a Vietnamese place sparked this whole disucssion. Fellow hounds wondered aloud if there wasn't some "danger" in eating cheap, ethnic eats.

Far from it. I simply wonder if it's a question of supply & demand, plus marketing and familiarity. In any case, are there any other cuisines where you wonder about the current prices versus original intent?

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