With an updated foreword by Peter Mayle, Acquired Tastes, originally published in 1993 under the title Expensive Habits, is a celebration of life's extravagances. Exploring an aspect of human nature that, although lying dormant in hard economic times, is capable of erupting with the hint of good fortune and the drop of a credit card. It samples the luxuries of Havana cigars, Parisian Hotels, bespoke London tailoring, hand-made shoes, the proper color for a stretch limousine and weighs the cost versus the pleasure of keeping a mistress. Explaining the proper way to eat true caviar while providing the listener with hours of pure, unadulterated escapism.
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.