Free Food and The Coming Stock Market Crash

Two wildly entertaining pieces in today’s NY Times.

While The Boston Globe offered ways to cook lobsters–Earth-shattering news: If the lobster isn’t moving, it may be dead and dangerous to cook and then eat!–The Times ran a story about austerity and stocks and then one on Josh Ozersky’s Big Fat Free Wedding: www.nytimes.com/2010/06/30/dining/30comp.html?ref=dining

Are the stories related?  The coming Depression and free food?  I think so.

First, Mr.  Ozersky’s wedding.

At the wedding, he received free food from Sullivan Street Bakery and the Pat LaFrieda meat company and enjoyed the cooking and food of chefs Orhan Yegen, Ed Brown, and Michael White.  Subsequently, Mr. Ozersky wrote up the event in his column in Time magazine omitting the part  about the free food and the free venue: The Empire Hotel’s rooftop bar.

The big joke here is that chefs, P.R. folks, and owners live by the comped meal.  I receive no fewer than 15-20 invitations per week for free food from hotels, bars, and restaurants.  And not being angelic, I’ll admit it…I…have…accepted comped meals!  There I said it.  That’s a load off.

Of course, so has everyone else in the world of food writing.  Whether it’s a full boat of free food, a table made available at the last minute, or courses and drinks sent out for free…it’s how the industry works.  The Times has a policy of not publishing writers when their food is comped, but…I’ve been on free trips with some of their writers and then seen articles appear about the food and travel that was free.

As Drew Nieporent said to me, “The food always tastes better when it’s free.”

Now what does this have to do with the coming market crash?

Simple: The party is over.  Time to pay the bill.  All that free money made on dubious trades, hedged bets on failure in industry…the folks who paid nothing in banks and restaurants? Subsidized by those who pay…

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