Tuesday, October 5, 2010

expensive ethnic food

What I think of as "ethnic" food is stupidly pricey here. There is precisely one place to get anything Indian here, El Gato Tuerto, and they have precisely one dish, chicken korma. It's good chicken korma, though not perfect, and it's about US$18. Thai curries are about US$20-24. Sushi is 1.5-2x US prices, but tends to be "meh." Ethiopian and Burmese food is unknown here, as in most of the United States. I know, my California is showing.

Why so expensive?
  • These are upscale restaurants aimed at well-off tourists.
  • There is little broad-based demand for these foods among the natives.
  • Many ingredients are probably expensive and/or rare. I have no idea where you'd get fenugreek or keffir lime leaves, for example. Ethiopian food uses so many special Ethiopian ingredients that you probably couldn't open a restaurant even if you wanted to.
Santiago is thankfully different: although the Indian food I had there was middling, it was reasonably priced, and I suspect there's better to be had. I have good recommendations for Thai restaurants there, and we ate at a stellar little Cuban joint.

1 comment:

  1. I think its a mix of all those factors. I also think that the lack of large immigrant communities living in Chile changes the market form a place where you go to keep your traditions alive to a place tourists go or places where Chileans who have some money go to try something new. This reduces quality b/c you are now selling to people who are in general less demanding/knowledgeable about that 'ethnic' food. Also it can be priced for tourists/rich people not food everyone (not that many middle class Chileans eat out for a number of economic/cultural factors).