So driving to work today I decided to listen to a Freakonomics podcast (which I love!). This particular one was discussing if more expensive wine actually tastes better. Not surprisingly they concluded on the show – after featuring stories from multiple guests – that it doesn’t actually taste better. In fact if you gave the same person the same wine twice and told them it was 2 different prices, the more expensive one would be “better” or at least different. What this does tell us is that price changes our perception of things. Now I fully understand the power of the placebo effect and how your mind can trick you into believing something works when it actually doesn’t. But I found myself thinking about how this applies so well to food. Such a large chunk of my spending money goes to food and drinks so it warrants a discussion.

I’m lucky that I am not affected by the price of a dish. In fact I actually prefer cheap foods (burgers, pizza, tacos, bbq, pho, fried rice etc) over the wildly exotic and expensive foods. One such example is Shark Fin Soup. Any Chinese kid can tell you that shark fin soup is a staple when attending large family dinners. I’m not quite sure why, but it seems to be the one thing that has to be on the table for it to be a celebration. To me Shark Fin Soup (and abalone as well) is just another way to waste money. I much rather prefer to have a bowl of corn chowder then that any day. However to my relatives, they would rather roll in broken glass then to admit it wasn’t so special. To me this is because of the price (and therefore the prestige) associated with it. They get more utility (happiness) out of something that is expensive solely because it’s expensive.

To the people with “refined palettes” who need to think about the tannins, the oak/smoke/cherry hints in wine, I actually do feel bad for you. If I can enjoy a $10 bottle of wine the same way you enjoy a $50 bottle, I just saved myself a lot of money – with the end result being the same. I think as a consumption based society we take expert opinion too seriously and let it weigh on our own thoughts too heavily. Good is good – no matter the price.




How does price affect how we feel about something? | 2011 | Discussions, Food | Comments (0)

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