October 12, 2018

Food for Thought

Why is it so hard to find great tacos in New York City? I’ve never been to Mexico, so in my humble opinion, this taco from Taco Mix was quite good. But everyone complains about how tacos suck here. Why? It makes no sense. It’s a big mystery. We have a lot of Mexican immigrants here; why wouldn’t there be decent tacos? Here are some of my theories:

1. Talented Mexican cooks are high in demand in Mexico, and they don’t let them out of the country.

2. Chicken-or-egg problem—because there are no decent tacos, Mexicans living here end up making them at home. This, I believe, is the reason there are no great Indian restaurants. If you want to have great Indian food, you have to make Indian friends, and pray they would cook for you one day.

3. The price expectation is too low. To make tacos as great as they are in Mexico would cost too much here, and the market is not willing to pay that price. Let’s say, to do everything right, the cost including the ingredients and the labor, plus a modest amount of profit, would add up to $10 a taco. Very few would be willing to spend that on a taco, unless the chef is Bobby Flay or Rick Bayless.

4. Taco Bell problem—Because Americans are quite happy with their own versions of tacos, most people are utterly unaware of the existence or even the possibility of better tacos. In other words, there is no demand.

5. It’s a myth—tacos are not actually better in Mexico. People just want to believe they are better because they traveled far and spent a lot of money going there. And, eaten with a glass of frozen margarita, anything tastes good, and they don’t really remember how they tasted the next day.

If you know something I don’t, or have a better theory, please let me know.

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