Sweet Chilli Sauce and Economic Theory

Still reading Matt Crawford’s book, and still thinking.

One of the unexpected pleasures of this summer has been our garden.  For the first time we tried to grow some stuff, and, rather to my surprise, it worked.  We have more chillis than we can ever use.  We harvest our little plant every couple of days and still they just keep comin’.  Here’s the evidence:

What to do with all this good stuff?  Well, we’ve been giving the little critters away by the handful, for starters.  And I’ve decided to make pots of sweet chilli sauce.  Here’s the recipe I intend to use, courtesy of the excellent Bill’s Food, by Bill Granger.

3 large fresh red chillis, finely chopped

1 cup rice vinegar

2 teaspoons of salt

3/4 cup of sugar

1 large garlic clove, chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil, then cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens to a slightly syrupy consistency.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

This all looks simple enough, but actually it’s quite a pain, especially when you’re doing it on the scale I’m going to be doing it.  That’s an awful lot of chopping.  And the smell is quite something, too, when you boil all that vinegar.  But I’m going to do it, and I’m looking forward to it.

Some economists, though, will tell you that none of this makes any sense, either in financial or convenience terms, when I can go to the supermarket and buy this for $2.39:


But this fails to take into account several factors:

  1. I like cooking. It calms me and distracts me from whatever enervating stuff has been going on that day.  It’s not just about the food that arrives on the table at the end of the process.  It’s also about that process – the journey is as important as the destination.
  2. I like eating. And things always taste better when you make them yourself.
  3. On which subject: there are no preservatives or E-numbers in my stuff. Nuff said.
  4. I will give it to my friends. Who I hope will enjoy it.  It’s a kinda cool gift.  But I’m not going to give them a bottle I bought at Schnucks, now, am I?
  5. I did not have to drive to Schnucks to buy this.  Nobody had to drive to Schnucks to deliver it. Everyone wins.

I used the words “redemptive” and “noble” in my last post about the values of manual work.  I realize that this might be over-egging the rhetorical omelette in the context of making sweet chilli sauce (to mix culinary metaphors), but  the point remains: it’s good to make stuff.

So, hoity-toity economists, ya boo sucks to you.

If anyone wants some, let me know.

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