060408recession.jpgWhile skyrocketing food prices are sparking riots around the world, in New York the crisis is forcing restaurants like Good Enough to Eat to make due with frozen blueberries in their pancakes! The owner tells the Times the blueberries she gets shipped from Maine are now $38 per flat, up from $24 last summer. A five gallon jug of Canadian maple syrup is now $250, up from $200. And a 100-pound sack of flour costs $7 more.

All these price increases – a 30-pound sack of rice has risen to $43 from $22 this year, egg prices have shot up 70%, cheese is up 25% – are a side effect of the rising cost of oil, a switch by many farmers to produce corn for ethanol, and crop shortages worldwide. For those of you who've been dining out less, Time Out NY gets some good tips from local chefs on cheap ingredients you can substitute for expensive stuff at home.

Restaurant owners in prime locations say the good news is that the weak dollar has kept the tourist business strong, though Europeans' miserly tips are the bane of waiters. But to stay afloat, smaller restaurants have been forced to cut more corners by shrinking portions, serving cheaper dishes like catfish, or charging for items that used to be complimentary, like rice. And the A.P. has it that Chuck E. Cheese has begun using a "reformulated" high-moisture mozzarella pizza cheese to save money, which is probably a safe move because who’s going to complain about the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese? Those animatronic Pizza Time Players will zap you with their laser eyes.

Photo courtesy Wally G.