There’s a phenomenon called the Paradox of Choice that says when people have too many things to choose from, it becomes paralyzing and they make no decisions at all. I think that the scientists who came up with this were probably watching me and Caili try to choose a restaurant. On paper, our neighborhood sounds great–right downtown, steps from Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, just a 10-15 minute walk to tons of food options. But in reality, it’s made our dining choices really difficult. The problem is much like a diamond–multifaceted, hard to stop looking at, and it ends up costing me a lot of money. Consider:
1. All the cheap places shut down at night. If you wanted to get lunch on a weekday, you’d love it here. Thanks to the surrounding office buildings, there’s McDonalds, Panda Express, Sbarro, Panera and everything else you can think of. But at night, all the businesspeople go home and leave only a sorry Giordano’s to tide us over.
2. Everything nearby is trendy. You might think that Caili and I are stylish city people, but we’re not. As I type this, between us we’re wearing two Old Navy shirts and a hoodie. (And neither of us are wearing pants! Kidding.) The point is, we’re not that into the floofy gourmet restaurants that they have downtown. One of our most recent restaurant outings was to the only Chili’s in Chicago.
3. The good restaurants won’t deliver down here. When we lived in Lakeview, we had an ongoing love affair with a Chinese takeout place called Yen’s. We got their General Chow Chicken, extra spicy, almost every weekend. But we’ve discovered that Mr. Yen refuses to deliver to our current place. The one place that will deliver? The aforementioned Giordano’s. Meh.
So the next time you’re calling up your local takeout place–or driving your big suburban automobile past a line of amazing fast food options–think about those of us in the inner-city who are every day, every hour, coping with life in a food desert and wondering where their next meal is going to come from.