The poster child for the devaluation of the American dollar is Mac and Cheese.
I'm not going to be politically correct when I say, "Everyone knows that mac and cheese is poor people food." Now that I've gotten that out, I just want to say I've eaten a lot of it in my life, it's extremely affordable, and offers little nutritional value and mostly fat, fat, and more fat. That's why it tastes good. Does America have an obesity epidemic? Why yes it does. But I'm not here to talk about that, or why Americans buy so much of this stuff...no, I'm going to rant about how mac and cheese is now the staple in fine food restaurants.
It seems that fine food establishments (consider steak houses like Flemings for example) all now have gourmet mac and cheese offerings on their menu. I've ordered quite a few of these. You know what the secret is? Some off-the-collar ingredient that they already have to order "in bulk" to cover their steaks and to stuff other things with. Outback is now offering "Mac and cheese with lobster" which will just be mac and cheese with chopped up lobster bits that they couldn't use on anything else. But you can see this crap everywhere. "Mac and cheese with truffle infusion."
"Oh you just took mac and cheese and chopped up mushrooms in it. How much you charging? $15 bucks a side dish? And you got some bread crumbs to top that with?! Baby sign me the hell UP!"
Another great restaurant here in SLC that I like to visit called Zy has some snooty mac and cheese dish. Again, it has prosciutto (or ham to the layman) or something like that stuffed in it to justify the expense.
It reminds me a lot of house flippers. You know the kind (I'm getting increasingly frustrated by them, because I'm looking for a good value in a house to own). These house flippers are like vultures, pounding on doors, running teams of people, pressuring owners to sell, and scooping up properties the instant they go to short sale so a Joe like me who has a day job and just wants to own a house...if I'm a second late...the value is gone with five bids on it.
So what do I have a beef about with house flippers...the fact that they think they can throw one ingredient in a pile of crap and increase the price by $100,000. Seriously. This seems to be the case on a house I was interested in. Seized for $140,000...new coat of paint, new carpet, granite countertops and new cabinets and that's it. No landscaping or nothing. And boom back on the market in four weeks for $240,000. WTF?!
All while the houses around it are in the $140,000 range. How does that even work?
Imagine going to a nice brunch with your significant other. The waiter comes out and charges you for bottled water when all they are doing is filling up the same bottle in the back with tap water. Then they present their new $15.00 specialty. "Will you be having the Charms de la Luck?" Sure you say and order it.
They bring out a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal, only instead of the normal marshmallows in it, they've cut up a package of Circus Peanuts.
I would scream!!!
But that seems to be happening all over the United States. It's called ripping people off, and I'm getting sick of it. Where is the value? I don't think it exists anymore (yes, I know this is a pessimistic attitude).
As authors we work (sometimes for up to a year or longer) to produce a story that costs $2.99 to buy. THAT's a frickin' value. America used to be about value. Now it just seems more and more (outside of authors) that everything is about ripping the next guy off, about taking a shortcut, about hiding expenses or charging outrageous amounts for something that should be really cheap to produce.
I see it in concrete driveways that start to flake after just two years. Do you know why concrete flakes? It's because the person that poured it shorted you on your cement (an ingredient in concrete that costs the most money).
I was in a house recently rewiring a light switch for my job. I took off the cover plate (which was mysteriously cracked-like why would that happen?) and discovered that a three-box was actually a two-box and a one-box wedged together and all bent to force the faceplate to fit (which is why it cracked over time). The contractor knew exactly what he was doing and cheated the homeowner by doing a crap job.
My friend James and I have a meme that we do whenever we hang together. It's called, "Where does a rich guy get his money?" The answer is always the same: "Off the backs of the middle class."
Think about that the next time you go on a date with your loved one and splurge for a nice restaurant, and you see Mac and Cheese on the menu. Ask yourself, where is the risotto? Well that would be too hard to make money on now wouldn't it?
Have a great Wednesday. :)