Economist Tyler Cowen Featured in Washington Post Article

Professor Tyler Cowen, well known economist and Mason Law adjunct professor, was the subject of a Washington Post feature story delving into Cowen's outlook on life in general and his ethnic dining guide in particular.

Cowen, General Director of the Mercatus Center and Holbert C. Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University, is the author of numerous books, articles, and columns and is a regular contributor to the New York Times and Money. He maintains a daily blog at with Economics Department colleague Alex Tabarrok. But one measure of his claim to fame is the ethnic dining guide he began in California before the age of the Internet as a simple list of phone numbers for restaurants offering particularly good ethnic food. From there it grew to become a list photocopied for friends and colleagues, and ultimately Cowen posted it on the Internet. Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide offers the indisputable advice that "All food is ethnic food," in addition to its useful and entertaining commentary on cuisine. Cowen's next book is on the economics of eating out.

Most recently, Cowen taught Law and Literature and Economic Foundations of Legal Studies at the School of Law.

Tyler Cowen's appetite for ethnic food -- and answers about his life, The Washington Post, May 13, 2010. By Michael S. Rosenwald.

"Cowen's next book is on the economics of eating out. He has studied the subject diligently since he was a student in Germany and tired of sausage; he explored Berlin for other ethnic cuisines. Cowen differs from many other libertarians in his support for expanding immigration, and other economists half-joke that his position is tied to his desire for, say, pig's blood for lunch in the suburbs. Cowen does not totally dispute these assertions.

"As a junior faculty member at the University of California at Irvine in the days before the Internet, Cowen kept a list of phone numbers of excellent ethnic restaurants so he wouldn't have to look them up in the Yellow Pages. Word got out in the economics department about the list, so he began photocopying it for colleagues. When the Internet became popular, he moved the list there. When he moved to George Mason, he continued charting his eating adventures. 'It's really not written for anybody else,' he says. 'It's written for me. It's my guide.'

"Most restaurants in Cowen's encyclopedic guide are in the suburbs. Cowen tells the GW crowd that the problem with city restaurants is that most people are there not to eat but to socialize. In the suburbs, people are more interested in eating. 'If you see people in a restaurant who are happy, don't go there,' he says, adding with a grin, 'You want people to be grim or screaming at each other.' In other words, you want diners to be there for the food, not to signal their sophistication."

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