According to Tyler Cowen’s online Ethnic Dining Guide, “all food is ethnic.” But he’s not referring just to Chinese takeouts or neighborhood taquerias. No, this George Mason University economics professor spends his free time exploring the area’s holes in the wall, suburban strip malls, and upscale eateries for tastes of Argentina, West Africa, Bangladesh, Nepal—upward of 75 ethnic cuisines in all—and then writing about his findings online. His brief, straightforward reviews include notes on price range and ambiance, whether a restaurant is worth a trip on the Beltway, and whether a place’s collard greens are “blah.”Cowen also cowrites a less food-driven—and equally popular—blog called Marginal Revolution, which chews on a wide range of cultural concepts. His latest book, Discover Your Inner Economist, hits stores this Thursday. Like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s Freakonomics, the book accessibly explains how everyday life choices can affect the bigger picture. Cowen even touches on a few food-related concepts, such as whether a restaurant with iron bars in the window in a developing ’hood will be good (odds are yes) and how to stretch a few bucks over multiple meals.
We geared this week’s Kitchen Favorites to Cowen’s forte—the nuances of ethnic eating.