Monday, October 20, 2014

Arroz con pollo inflation

Knowing as I did that I would not be able to go out for lunch tomorrow, as I will be occupied with a hired photographer shooting headshots of me for the company web site, I went to Jamaica Jamaica at the intersection of 54 and 55, and got myself jerk chicken with yellow rice and black beans, along with a beef patty, for lunch.  This is enough food for two meals, which makes me square for tomorrow.  The guy behind the counter asked if I wanted gravy, and of course I did.

On my way out the door to go hear John Elder Robison at Duke, I paused to inhale a drum stick and a nibble of rice.  As I did so, I realized that this was very much like the quarter chicken with rice and beans that I used to get for $3.49 at La Floridita at Broadway and 125th, a fine little establishment which -- like so much -- has sadly yielded to Columbia's imperial march northward into Harlem, spurred ever onwards by Lee Bollinger, that deft combination of Chuck Norris and Napoleon Bonaparte.  But I digress.

And indeed, today's container or rice, beans, and chicken was very much like the one from back in the day.  The pricing is a little different.  According to this handy US inflation calculator,  $3.49 inflated from 1995 to 2014 balloons up only to $5.45, whereas I think my lunch today costed $7.50 or $7.99, something like that.  Admittedly, there was more chicken, and the spicing was much tastier.

I don't think it's a question of rent.  I think what this mostly likely reflects is a combination of food inflation outpacing inflation more generally, and the relative availability of meals.  There were multiple Dominican places close to 125th, to the chicken and rice at Floridita was kind of a loss leader, and the assumption was a fair amount of beer would be sold with it, along with more expensive plates.

No comments: