How to eat well in Genoa [Genova]

George Mason economist Tyler Cowen, author of An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies, just posted a note on some of his delectable discoveries in Genoa.

BTW, if you haven’t yet read An Economist Gets Lunch, I can almost guarantee you will find Tyler’s book as engaging as we did. The book has nearly zero intersection with all the other foodie books on the shelf. You will enjoy the reading immensely, and enjoy the eating for the rest of your life. 

Genoa is one of the best food venues in Italy, as is Liguria more generally.  It is also one of the best places in Europe for vegetarian dining.  Maximize the number of tarts and vegetable tarts you eat, skip hotel breakfast and look for small places with morning snacks, preferably baked goods, and treat them as the equal of cooked dishes.  Forget about meat altogether.

1. Antica Sciamadda, 14-16 Via San Giorgio, arrive at the 11:30 opening and keep on buying the tarts and farinata as they are freshly baked and put out on the counter.  There is a vaguely Arabic feel to the dishes, and there is an excellent video of the place here.  There are many excellent ‘sciamadda’ in Genoa and they lie somewhere between a food stall and a very small restaurant, so do not count on them being open for dinner.

2. Trattoria alle Due Torri, Salita del Prione 53, near the Columbus house.  Order pasta and focaccia, this is some of the best spaghetti I’ve had, and the pansotti (ravioli in walnut sauce) is notable.

3. La Rina, superb seafood restaurant, don’t focus on the main courses.

There are relatively few tourists in town, although the most common group — by far — is Russians.  From Bologna, here is a post about flunking out of Gelato University.

(Via Marginal Revolution.)

The Inefficiency of Local Food

We highly recommend this Steve Sexton essay on Freakonomics. Steve is a Ph.D. candidate in agricultural and resource economics, and a regular Freakonomics contributor. Excerpt:

(…) Amid heightened concern about global climate change, it has become almost conventional wisdom that we must return to our agricultural roots in order to contain the carbon footprint of our food by shortening the distance it travels from farm to fork, and by reducing the quantity of carbon-intensive chemicals applied to our mono-cropped fields.

But implicit in the argument that local farming is better for the environment than industrial agriculture is an assumption that a “relocalized” food system can be just as efficient as today’s modern farming. That assumption is simply wrong. Today’s high crop yields and low costs reflect gains from specialization and trade, as well as scale and scope economies that would be forsaken under the food system that locavores endorse.

Specialization and Trade

Economists have long recognized the welfare gains from specialization and trade. The case for specialization is perhaps nowhere stronger than in agriculture, where the costs of production depend on natural resource endowments, such as temperature, rainfall, and sunlight, as well as soil quality, pest infestations, and land costs. Different crops demand different conditions and vary in their resilience to shocks. So California, with mild winters, warm summers, and fertile soils produces all U.S.-grown almonds and 80 percent of U.S. strawberries and grapes. Idaho, on the other hand, produces 30 percent of the country’s russet potatoes because warm days and cool nights during the season, combined with rich volcanic soils, make for ideal growing conditions.

Read the whole thing. You can read more of Steve’s research papers here at Bepress.com.