Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Inflation; Not the Soufflé Kind

I read with horror a snippet from the Financial Times. I hope I copied it right: “In the US, [food] prices have risen by 6.7 per cent, seasonally adjusted, since the beginning of this year, compared to 2.1 per cent for all of 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics." Wow. This certainly has been borne out since I have been shopping for my home meals at a big variety of markets, just to see “what’s out there”.

One well-known place had rib-eye steaks that were 2 1/2-inches thick and cost $21.00 a pound. The one I looked at and did not buy would have cost me $33 dollars. While it is true I could have easily fed 5 people normal servings of meat, (but most folks eat a half-pound steak each). By the time you add some veggies and some potato or rice and let’s assume no good steak even needs a sauce, I would have had to add another $13. So, it would have cost me $10 per person for the food, only if I did all the cooking, serving, clean up, and gave no dessert.

Restaurants compare pretty favorably to buying and preparing your own food, I think, when you consider the portions, the quality of the cooking, the labor and does anyone out there even think about the SKILL it takes to cook well!? Let alone the overhead (landlords have to eat, too). I still think we should all cook at home as much as possible; we should support the restaurants that are in it for the craft and the long run, and then there should be a nice balance for all. If you go to every “latest, new” restaurant that means you will never patronize the same place twice – it is nearly impossible. It's like leaving your spouse every other day for another bite of forbidden fruit.

I am told constantly that customers vote with their dollars and if they don’t like a restaurant and don’t think they are getting their money’s worth they won’t patronize it. Please do this at your market – they deserve a kick in the teeth once in while like we in the restaurant business get sometimes a little too often.

Happy cooking, and remember, a good dish of red kidney beans, onion, rice and water and little salt and pepper, topped off with a little excellent extra virgin olive oil, you can still eat an epicurean meal and beat the hell out of inflation.

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