Friday, April 15, 2011

Every Day Indulgences

A recent discussion in the comments of Gourmet & Gourmand, on the high price of pine nuts, led me to thinking about what types of things I am willing to pay high prices for and what I am not.  Having a modest but not entirely restrictive budget allows me the luxury to make decisions like the following:

* order take-out once or twice a week from some perfectly acceptable but non-inspiring neighborhood restaurant with entrees in the $6-10 region OR cook modest meals at home/eat leftovers every night and have one night out every month or so at a really good restaurant with wine, dessert et al.  I am ashamed to say that, out of laziness, we usually choose the former when we really want to choose the the latter.

* buy the really good $6/lb pasta, local creamery milk, old-ish balsamico, imported San Marzano canned tomatoes here and there but stick with the cheap stuff the rest of the time OR get ingredients of middle of the road, good quality all the time but forego anything really special.

It requires planning, waiting and priorities, my food budget does.  I'm not complaining.  Not in the slightest way.  However, as someone who values high quality ingredients above most else, it does lead me to some interesting inner dialogues on what's worth buying and when.

There are some things that I never skimp on.  They are my every day indulgences and I know myself too well to go back to lesser things if I can help it.  I will just grumble, gripe and moan about it and lose whatever enjoyment I might have gotten from the inferior product simply due to my own bad attitude about it.  My list of must-have indulgences isn't long:

* Parmesan Reggiano.  I have to have the good stuff.  I have to.  I can eat $3 pasta sauce from a jar, but it has to have excellent Parm shavings on top.

* Chocolate.  I'm not going to say that I never eat a Snickers or a bag of M&M's (I totally do)  but I must have excellent chocolate in the house at all times.   French, Spanish, Austrian, Venezuelan, artisanal truffles or dark, dark bars with ridiculously high cocoa content...  mmmm.  For a mere $10 or so, I can have a small bit of the best chocolates in the world.  Since it is so good, I nibble it in tiny amounts and make it last, but when it's gone, I flounder.  Must have excellent chocolate!

* Meat.  Kid Cayenne has her squeamy nature and I just like really nice meat.  I buy the best quality we can afford, all the time.  It works because we only eat meat in smallish quantities and with just two of us, that doesn't add up to a lot.

It makes me happy that gorgeous, good quality ingredients are a luxury that I can attain (in moderation), as opposed to most beautifully made items like clothing, cars and fab furniture.  Eating good food makes me feel incredibly privileged and I never take it for granted.

What do you consistently splurge on?  What are your every day indulgences?


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