Note to recruiters

Note to recruiters: We are quite aware that recruiters, interviewers, VCs and other professionals generally perform a Google Search before they interview someone, take a pitch from someone, et cetera. Please keep in mind that not everything put on the Internet must align directly to one's future career and/or one's future product portfolio. Sometimes, people do put things on the Internet just because. Just because. It may be out of their personal interests, which may have nothing to do with their professional interests. Or it may be for some other reason. Recruiters seem to have this wrong-headed notion that if somebody is not signalling their interests in a certain area online, then that means that they are not interested in that area at all. It is worth pointing out that economics pretty much underlies the areas of marketing, strategy, operations and finance. And this blog is about economics. With metta, let us. by all means, be reflective about this whole business of business. Also, see our post on "The Multi-faceted Identity Problem".

Monday, June 30, 2014

Response to Tyler Cowen : why Indian restaurants are better than Pakistani restaurants

Bang in the middle of World Cup season when international rivalries are prominently on display (and what could be more important than watching Deutschland play ("JA, JA, DEUTSCHLAAAAAAAND!!")) comes this short post furthering the point I made on why Indian restaurants in the United States are better than Pakistani restaurants. Tyler Cowen has argued otherwise in his book. He wrote that Pakistani restaurants are better than Indian restaurants in the United States. But when I asked him for amplification, he did say that... well, read on to find that bit out. But first, the question: is Tyler's observation really true? Has Tyler Cowen scored one for Pakistan?

At first blush: perhaps, in a manner of speaking, but then again, maybe not. Indian restaurants do tend to cater to the American palate more often than Pakistani restaurants. However, it must be first noted that this is not universally true. It must also be noted that there are reasons to believe that - when the full 90 minutes are done and the final whistle has been blown - Indian restaurants come out - overall - ahead of Pakistani restaurants. That is my considered opinion on this matter any way.

Why? Two reasons, both observations on the restaurant market in the United States. The first thing I would like to note is that where this is greater competition among Indian restaurants, and where there is a greater concentration of Indians, the quality of Indian restaurant food is excellent. This includes such areas as the San Francisco Bay Area and New York. Competition brings quality. This is the point that Prof. Cowen clarified via email in his reply to me. He agreed that the quality of food in these areas is outstanding - and he attributes it to competition as well.

The second thing I would like to note is that Indian restaurants are like American business schools in an important way - they have made various choices that may be treated as "strategic positions". American business schools have, of course, done exactly this - Duke positions itself as a team-based school ("Duke grads are great TEAM PLAYERS!"), Wharton positions itself as a great school for people interested in Finance ("Finance? Come to Wharton!) and HBS positions its students for leadership roles ("HBS- more CEOs than any other business school"). Indian restaurants have done the same thing. They have positioned themselves as vegetarian or vegan, as buffet-based or menu-based. Now, vegetarianism happens to an extremely good lifestyle choice and, therefore, the Quality of a regional cuisine is a function of whether it offers good choices for vegetarians. In this regard, Indian restaurants in the United States are superior to virtually every other regional cuisine (except perhaps Thai).

And so, in the context of great international rivalries, it must be noted that Pakistani are certainly in contention in this game. However, there are few to zero Pakistani restaurants that are exclusively vegetarian - and this is important because the wafting flavors of kebabs and koftas are enough to tempt even the most die-hard dieter. Furthermore, Indian cuisine is a strict superset of Pakistani cuisine and so there is little to support the contention that it has anything to do with Indian food per se.

I note Tyler Cowen's point that Indian restaurants have added more sugar to some of their dishes, have diluted the flavors of some of their soups, et cetera, all of which add up to much less flavor for the gourmet. (This is a valid and very important point - and it is especially true in places where there is less competition.) But being a bit of a gourmet myself, I would argue that you can quite easily satisfy your appetite for excellent food at Indian restaurants by simply downloading the Yelp app for the iPhone or Android and finding out what dishes at a particular restaurant are bad.

It may then be concluded that Tyler Cowen's goal must, in fact, be challenged. As an unbiased referee, I am going to be unable to award this point to him. If anything, given that Indian cuisine is a strict superset of Pakistani, it is clear that you are better off going to an Indian restaurant, particularly one that supports your dietary choices- whether low carb or low fat, whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

And now, I must go back to Germany versus Algeria.