Pleasure principle gone wild

I have always admired opulence. I never wanted to have it on a constant basis, but the possibility of it was always exciting.

Even as a teenager in a world before the Internet, I would enjoy worldly pleasures such as those found in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue.

In those days, the catalogue was delivered in the mail and I would go from page to page, reading every description and studying every picture.

The first year I saw it the feature item was an Arabian stallion you could purchase for $10,000. (I am pretty sure shipping was extra.)

Over the years, there have been many more sources for adding decadence to your life and nowadays you can find it almost anywhere (and sometimes, the shipping is even included!)

Luxurious food is one category that has expanded with the world getting smaller; you can get almost anything at any time anywhere. Caviar, champagne, chocolate, and all manner of innovative new creations.

If you want to sample something unique, you can find out where to go to get it, too. Would you like an example?

Here’s a slideshow of exotic delights featured across the United States in October. Chicken soaked in seaweed, anyone? 

I have splurged on all kinds of things over the years. Having the chance at a special memory is a priceless opportunity so I don’t regret spending money on learning to scuba dive or diving in Costa Rica, Hawaii, Bermuda, Mexico and Jamaica (with more to come, I hope).

I will always remember river rafting on the Zambezi River, taking a trip to see a friend, going to a movie with a friend, buying a favourite treat for a sick relative … I think you get the idea. 

There is a limit to what makes sense for splurging, though. I wasn’t going to buy an Arabian stallion just because I thought it looked handsome in the catalogue.

I don’t think I would order the featured item from this year’s catalogue either: collard greens, for $66 plus shipping. (I’ll wait a moment while you read that again. I know I had to.) Yes, it’s true.

Now, you have to understand these are not your average run-of-the-mill collard greens. These are specially seasoned and already cooked to perfection, then frozen for shipping.

Frozen, you say? Well, of course – and portioned out so you can only serve them to people who would understand how good they are. (OK, maybe that last bit was a bit too sarcastic. Please forgive me.)

But wait, there’s more!

In the true spirit of opulence, Neiman Marcus offers choice. You can also order Oma’s Cheesy Potatoes for your meal, at $80.

Interestingly enough, there is a much more affordable way to go: they advertise a Holiday Turkey Dinner for eight people at $495, which just a bit over $60 per person.

That’s not bad for a cooked holiday dinner with all the trimmings including dessert. Unfortunately, they don’t ship that item to Canada.

There has been an uproar on social media about the luxury greens Neiman Marcus featured. Look up #GentrifiedGreens and you can see some of the fuss.

NPR wrote a fun article on the subject, which caught my eye. The great thing about having the Internet and social media is that everyone finds out fast about new topics, and it’s very easy to share one’s opinion. Popularity can be easy to achieve, but so can ridicule.

I think perhaps this lesson in greens is a reminder for us all to use a little common sense.

Opulence is fine, but when we slide down the moral decline to decadence and want to enjoy the opulence for the sake of bragging rights, that is indeed a slippery slope. (Maybe that is why they are now marked as “sold out” in the online catalogue)

I may have been guilty in the past of glorifying the grandeur of a meal, or even an ingredient.

However, I do hope I have never taken my audience for granted. You would tell me if you felt taken advantage of, wouldn’t you? 

Here’s to enjoying the upcoming holiday season with a sprinkling of gratitude and humility.


More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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