Acquired tastes

by Peter Mayle

Hardcover, 1992




New York : Bantam Books, 1992.


In Acquired Tastes, Peter Mayle, the erudite sojourner and New York Times bestselling author of A Year in Provence, sets off once more, traveling the world in search of the very best life has to offer. Whether telling us where to buy the world's best caviar or how to order a pair of thirteen-hundred-dollar custom-made shoes, advising us on the high cost of keeping a mistress in style or the pros and cons of households servants, he covers everything the well-heeled--and those vicariously so inclined--need to know to enjoy the good life.   From gastronomy to matrimony, from the sartorial to the baronial, Acquired Tastes is Peter Mayle's most delicious book yet--an irreverently spiced smorgasbord of rich dishes you're sure to enjoy. Praise for Acquired Tastes   "Mr. Mayle is a writer who never fails to entertain. If he were told to go forth and write about doorknobs, he would return with a witty, perceptive essay."--The New York Times Book Review   "One of the finest modern writers on matters that deal with taste."--Craig Claiborne   "Much, much fun--and best read with a magnum of Dom PĂ©rignon and a four-pound tin of Beluga caviar."--Kirkus Reviews "Witty and stylish . . . These hilarious essays are vintage Mayle."--James Villas, author of The French Country Kitchen "This delightful celebration of the little (and not-so-little) extravagances that make life worth living scintillates with wit, brio and trenchant observations"--Publishers Weekly   "Intriguing."--Chicago Sun-Times… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member justine
Peter Mayle turns his considerable wit towards the lush life.
LibraryThing member drbubbles
Reads very much like Bill Bryson's writing, especially those that are more or less a collection of vignettes.
LibraryThing member BakuDreamer
Not nearly enough detail, but overall okay ( lots to look up )
LibraryThing member ecw0647
Mayle set out to sample the excesses of the wealthy. The problem with having serious money is that one can never be satisfied. Nothing is ever just right. "Expectations tend to increase in direct proportion to the amount of money being spent, and if you're spending a fortune you expect perfection." Consider cutlery that is so expensive the hostess is required by her insurance broker to count it after each meal and lock it in the safe. Or the slightly under-boiled breakfast egg; or the chauffeur with a hint of garlic on his breath. You see the problem.
Of course, the wealthy are constantly being sued, so it's important to understand lawyers who create a language only they can understand. It's also imperative they never admit to being wrong, for it would tarnish their aura of omniscience. "The best way to avoid being wrong is to never state a clear opinion. And every case has the infamous' gray area' which allows lawyers to say absolutely nothing in a highly professional manner."

Unless, of course, your case happens to be identical to a case that was decided fifty years ago, in which case you have precedent. Precedent is a wonderful tool because "it permits law-yers to be decisive without having to take any responsibility for the decision." Litigation is, of course, one of the hobbies of the rich.

Christmas is another occasion rendered impossible by ''The Man Who Has Everything" Stores stock their counters with bizarre, unsalable items that normally would not get a second glance. At Christmas, everything sells. Rarely, a gift is received that brings joy to the callous heart. "I have a friend whose dislike of Christmas is matched only by his profound aversion to his mother-in-law, whose annual visit is the low point of his year. But one Christmas Eve, in addition to the customary necktie, she gave him the flu. It was necessary that he retire to bed, congested but happy, until she left on New Year's Day. He s aid it was the first time he hadn't wanted to take a gift of hers back and exchange it."

The secret to being rich is to flaunt. Why bother "eating plover's eggs and wearing four-ply cashmere sweaters" if everyone else can afford them too. Christmas, which started as a simple religious holiday, has managed to establish itself as the "universal expensive habit ... a commercial orgy with a Pentagonsized budget... Otherwise sensible people give serious consideration to the attractions of multilingual speak-your-weight machine s, platinum toothpicks ... personalized replicas of nineteenth-century spittoons, and luminous bedroom slippers. "

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