London – I grew up in a small, agricultural town in California’s Central Valley – it’s a place where you see John Deere tractors in traffic roundabouts. The prominent Hispanic population in the area lends itself to a variety of home-style Mexican restaurants, often bedecked with the terracotta colour schemes, Corona neon signs and random piñatas one comes to expect. A Californian’s relationship with Mexican food could easily be compared to what the British have with Indian food: the presence of each harken back to colonialist roots, but both have also become irreversible mainstays of the culture into which they have integrated. But a question becomes painfully ever-present: why do we still expect to pay less for Indian and Mexican meals, compared to say, Italian or French?
Why do we still expect to pay less for Indian and Mexican meals, compared to say, Italian or French?
Take, for example, Gunpowder, an Indian restaurant in London that has become quickly beloved by the English community. According to Zagat data, Mexican, Indian and Thai cuisines consistently bottom on the ‘check-price spectrum.’ The answer? It’s the economy, silly: NYU associate professor of food studies Krishnendu Ray, author of The Ethnic Restaurateur, attributes this hierarchal range of pricing to the military and economic power of the cuisine’s respective origination country. Can changing these discrepancies and biases, from California to England, be a problem design can help solve?