My college roommate was born in China but grew up here. We'd have the following conversation regularly:You wanna grab some dinner?> Yeah I'll go for anything.Cool, let's grab a pizza.> Nah, I don't want pizza. Anything else.Burgers?> Eh, not really.Indian?> Not tonight.Burritos!> Nope.Well, that eliminates everything in the neighborhood.> There's gotta be something else.So, you mean you want Chinese?> Yeah, I could go for that.We had Chinese last night, let's do something else.> It's not a kind of food. It's just food. Order something different. I'm dialing, you pick up.He was right, of course. But he also ended up with all kinds of off menu things like babyback ribs, so maybe he was on to something else.
In college I spent a semester studying in Japan. My host parents were great. My host mother, who was the one who cooked (did I mention it was Japan?), had a strict three-day rotation for dinners: Day 1 was Japanese food, Day 2 was Chinese-style food, and Day 3 was American food. And she was a great cook. I'm not sure how closely it ties into Cowen's thesis, but it doesn't matter, because really the point is this: My host mother was awesome.
I did a tour of Eastern Europe when I was in the Rutgers University Glee Club, and in St. Petersberg we stayed with a host family for two nights. They were the only home-cooked meals we got - the rest were pretty poor restaurant meals. But those two home-cooked meals? I have no idea what we were eating (the host did not speak English) but it was absolutely delicious.