Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I’ll take “The Economy” for a thousand, Alex.

The Unemployment Rate. Gross Domestic Product. Retail Sales. Soup at a Thai Restaurant in North Carolina.

What are accurate economic indicators?

Correct. Let’s pause for a commercial break. When we come back we’ll meet our contestants.

I used to frequent this place in Charlotte called Thai Taste. It was damn good. No matter what you ordered, you would get a bowl of soup as an appetizer. You didn’t go there for the soup, but you didn’t turn it away either. It was like chips ‘n’ salsa at a Mexican joint.

In 2000/2001, that soup was a tepid bowl of diluted chicken stock. If you happened to get a small chunk of tofu in your soup, you’d go buy some lotto tickets because it was obviously your lucky day. As the economy started to gain strength, so did the soup. First it was cabbage that appeared. Woo boy! Then more exotic items started to surface, like mushrooms. And bamboo shoots. You know, the typical stuff that can really put a dent in a restaurant's overhead during tough times.

My co-worker and I always took notice of this edible, economic phenomenon that was playing out before us. It was usually the first topic of our lunch conversation – before we got too far into molecular quantum mechanics.

One day, our soups were placed before us and each bowl contained identifiable pieces of meat. Chicken, as I recall. White meat, at that.

We enjoyed our lunch, went back to work, asked for and got raises.

The soup never lies.

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