6.26.2007

noodles for fun and profit

i had dinner last night at Morandi, which is one of those horrible scene-y restaurants that is full of skinny people who have arrived in town cars, and whose handbags can be referred to by name, like "can you hand me my Mombasa?" except none of them actually carry Mombasas, because that is so five seasons ago.

i had squid-ink risotto (and let me warn you, so you are not faced with the same the-next-morning-in-the-bathroom horror that certain people might or might not have been, that if ink comes in, ink goes out) and my dining companion had what was likely, pound for pound, the world's most expensive plate of food.

perhaps i am imprecise: it was the world's most profitable plate of food: an $18 plate of spaghetti that had been tossed in butter, parmesan, and lemon zest.

I am going to break this down: even assuming the finest of ingredients, there is no way that this dish cost the restaurant more than a dollar to produce.

  • the portion was ittybitty. let us say 50 distinct strings of spaghetti. according to the evil geniuses at cockeyed, there are 448 pieces of spaghetti in one box of dried pasta. so 50 strings of spaghetti, dried, comprises one ninth of a pound, or one-point-seven-repeating ounces of noodle.

  • 1.77777 ounces of spaghetti is, essentially, 1 ounce of flour and 0.77777 ounces of egg. Let us give the good folks at Morandi the benefit of the doubt and assume they are using very nice flour and eggs. European-style artisinal flour is $4.25 for 3lbs, which is approximtely nine cents per ounce.

  • one large egg, generally speaking, contains 2 ounces of eggstuff. A dozen organic eggs costs $3.99, or thirty-three cents per egg. at two ounces per egg, 0.7777 ounces of eggstuff is, rounding up, thirteen cents.

  • yeah, okay, water. New York City bills homeowners $0.24 per gallon of tap water used (it's so expensive because we advertise its awesomeness). we don't have to add water to the pasta, because we are giving assuming the Morandi people are not horrible cheating bastards and do in fact use 100% egg in the making of their spaghetti. but there is probably some water absorbed during the cooking process, which i will arbitrarily assume is two ounces. actually it's not arbitrary: i chose two ounces because one ounce of water, at 28 ounces to the gallon, costs less than once cent and i don't want to deal with it. 2 ounces, on the other hand, costs one-point-five cents.

  • it's possible that things will get expensive here in the lemon-and-cheese zone. lemons are $0.69 at whole foods (you'll have to take my word for it), and from personal experience i can tell you that one of their lemons yields about 3 teaspoons of zest. this portion of spaghetti had about half a teaspoon, which is one sixth of a lemon, which is approximately the size of the lemon wedge that was served as a complimentary garnish on my dessert (lemon sorbet blended with vodka! holy crap!), so i am going to say that one-sixth of a lemon's worth of zest costs Morandi zero cents.

  • the most expensive parmigiano-reggiano the internet could find for me was this organic stuff for $14.99 per 8 ounces (or $29.98 per pound for all you who want me to do your math for you). One ounce of parm run over a microplane produces about 1/2 cup of finely shredded, and there was - generously - 1/8 cup of cheese on this pasta, with no offer from our server to add more. that's forty-seven cents of cheese.

  • UPDATE: horror of horrors, an anonymous commenter pointed out that i forgot the butter. a pound of uberfancy Plugra butter (which, admittedly, is made in a French style, while Morandi is an Italian restaurant, but goddamnit it's expensive) is $7.99 if you don't know the secret to buying it cheap.* A pound of butter clocks in at almost exactly fifty cents per tablespoon, which converts to seventeen cents for the teaspoon that coated these noodles.

  • and heck, while we're at it, let's throw in four cents for the pinch of sea salt that was probably added at some point in the dinner.


9 + 13 + 1.5 + 0 + 47 + 17 + 4 = 91.5

NINETY-ONE POINT FIVE CENTS
. and they're charging $18 for this baby. that's an almost 2000% markup. compare that to the thousand-dollar martini at the Capital Grille in Boston: you get a diamond ring for your efforts.

on the upside, we did breathe the same air as such luminaries as rachel hunter (total hottie), sally hershberger (looks like joan jett! maybe it was joan jett! omg!) and the dude who played the neurologist in Garden State. For a sighting of whom, i suppose, i would totally pay eighteen bucks.

*i'm not going to tell you, thus ensuring shortbread dominance for eternity.

7 comments:

meredith said...

you forgot to say "dark surprise".

also, I love math.

Leila said...

That dish is totally something I might make at home during a poor spell.

bots! said...

it totally could have been Joan Jett. She is in town.

RW said...

Crabby artists serving small dollops of overpriced foliage.

I mean... it reeks NY.

Marcin said...

Uhhh, that isn't even overpriced. Honestly, you'd pay at least that much here if it were a reasonable restaurant.

Anonymous said...

you forgot to include the butter....

The Probabilist said...

Water doesn't cost 28 cents a gallon. It costs 0.28 cents. Not that that makes a real difference, of course.