Acquired Tastes

Acquired Tastes

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by Peter Mayle
     
 

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The author of A Year in Provence takes readers on an around-the-world journey, showing them where to find the best of everything, including caviar, custom-made shoes, and more.

Overview

The author of A Year in Provence takes readers on an around-the-world journey, showing them where to find the best of everything, including caviar, custom-made shoes, and more.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On assignment for GQ (where these tonic pieces first appeared), Mayle sallied forth to sample the little luxuries of the richest, the best that life is reputed to offer. With unabashed gusto he praises good cigars, grand hotels, Parisian bistros, second homes, antiques and fresh truffles. With swank savvy he reviews the advantages and drawbacks of servants, the pleasures and costs of mistresses. His excursions comprise an informal buyer's guide to single-malt whiskies, pure Mongolian cashmere, deluxe shirts and hand-made London shoes. For ballast, Mayle ( A Year in Provence ) presents curmudgeonly diatribes on lawyers, tipping, New Year's resolutions, writers' gripes, Christmas (``the universal expensive habit'') and Manhattan's giddy spending opportunities. This delightful celebration of the little (and not-so-little) extravagances that make life worth living scintillates with wit, brio and trenchant observations on the best and the second-rate. (May)
Library Journal
Having dissected the pleasures of life in the south of France in his popular A Year in Provence ( LJ 4/1/90) and Toujours Provences ( LJ 5/1/91), Mayle turns his witty and keen eye on the lifestyles and spending habits of the very, very, very rich. In this collection of pieces from GQ magazine, he describes the ritual of ordering a pair of $1300 hand-made shoes. ``Everything is measured: altitude of instep, curve of heel, contours and slope of the metatarsal range. You might even be asked if you normally wear your toenails that length, because millimeters count.'' Mayle advises the reader on selecting the right stretch limousine. ``White is vulgar, gray is a compromise banker's color, puce and magenta and antique crackle-finish gold are not for gentlemen.'' He explains to the neophyte the proper way to eat true caviar (forget the sour cream, anchovies, chopped onions and capers, and hard-boiled eggs). While there is no great depth here, Mayle's amusing observations provide die-hard fans of Dynasty and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with a few hours of pure hedonistic escapism.-- Wilda Williams, ``Library Journal''
Kirkus Reviews
Consumer catalogue of the world's finest luxuries, entries first published in GQ and Esquire, by Mayle (Toujours Provence, 1991, etc.). Mayle decided to write a monthly column for GQ on luxuries and the most refined ways to spend money, with GQ's financial support of his investigations—rough work, alas. He delivers in a velvety style, telling: how to buy and eat caviar (skip chopped onion and crumbled egg yolk, don't spread it on toast like peanut butter—just get in bed with a plastic spoon and lift the black pearls to your mouth, then burst them on your palate); how to distinguish a true cigar or a great single-malt scotch; how to hire a black stretch-limo; how to maximize the joys of a supremely exclusive hotel; where to buy a shirt or $1300 hand-stitched custom-made shoes; where to have a suit made, and so on. He is especially keen about the foie gras of Provence (best in the world). He takes us on a money trip through the upkeep of a mistress and all the "daily jolts of intrigue and adrenaline [that] are meat and drink to the mistress addict"—and talks over the odd gift to the wife to soothe one's remorse. Then there's the indulgence of hiring lawyers ("In practice, it consists of handing over large sums of money to the kind of people you wouldn't want to meet in your neighborhood bar"). And how about hiring a private jet to get you from Avignon to Paris? "The cost would be substantial—around 48,000 French francs, or $9,000, for fuel and landing fees." Or a genuine $l,000 folding hat—a Panama worth its weight in dollar bills? Hmm...well, we deserve it. Much, much fun—and best read with a magnum of Dom Perignon and a four-pound tin of Belugacaviar.

Publishers Weekly
...With unabashed gusto he (Mayle) praises good cigars, grand hotels, Parisian bistros, second homes, antiques and fresh truffles. ...curmudgeonly diatribes on lawyers, tipping, New Year's resolutions, writers' gripes, Christmas ("the universal expensive habit") and Manhattan's giddy spending opportunities. This delightful celebration of the little (and not-so-little) extravagances that make life worth living scintillates with wit, brio and trenchant observations on the best and the second-rate.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553371833
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/1993
Pages:
229
Sales rank:
723,546
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Peter Mayle was educated at Brighton College, England, and later at Harrison College, Barbados. He left school at sixteen and returned to England, where he failed to distinguish himself as a waiter and a laundry van driver.
He joined David Ogilvy's advertising agency in New York, and spent nearly fifteen years in the advertising business on both sides of the Atlantic before leaving honest employment to become a writer..
His first book, Where Did I Come From?, explaining the facts of life to children, was published in 1973 and is still in print today, more than three million copies later.
In 1987, he moved to Provence with the intention of writing a novel, but the distractions of his life interfered. These become the material for A Year in Provence, which was published in 1989. It has now been translated into 38 languages, and has sold between five and six million copies. It also spent three years on both the London Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller lists. The sequel, Toujours Provence, followed in 1991. Since then, there have been a number of novels, including A Good Year, which in 2007 was made into a film starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott.
He has often been asked about his hobbies. He has at various times professed an interest in amateur genetic engineering, musical espionage, diamond cutting, brain surgery for beginners, nude fencing and several other unusual leisure activities. These, alas, are all lies – attempts to add a little interest to an area of personal life that is normally devoted to less dramatic pursuits such as gardening and golf.
In fact, his principal hobby is lunch. Probably to make up for several years of being forced to eat revolting school food when young. Indeed, he hopes that when death comes, it will be during the precise moment between the last mouthfuls of a fine lunch and the arrival of the bill.
Living, as he does, in France, there are plenty of delightful opportunities to indulge this interest. The lunch addict can try his luck at everything from the three-star temple of gastronomy to the truck-drivers' bistro; each excellent in its own way. And there is something sinful, unworthy, and most enjoyable about these pleasures, particularly when knowing that many are obliged to make do with a sandwich at the desk.
On a more serious note, it was with great pride that Mayle received the distinction of being made a Chevalier in Légion d'Honneur in 2002.

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Acquired Tastes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book on vacation in Florida. Perfect, perfect beach read. The accounts of the best of everything are wonderful, evocative, and fascinating. I've read this book many times because it is so good. Definitely on my Top 10 list. And I have 5,000 books in my personal library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mayle should be prohibited from ever again using the word bespoke. Most of his books are very interesting and amusing. The editor of this one slept on the job.