Good Eating: A Peasant's Luxury

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You know that feeling you get, when you cruise the designer department at Sak's as if you could actually afford something? That's how I was feeling this morning, paging through the current issue of Gourmet, past the ads for Jags, Viking ranges, and West Coast spas. As a Midwestern wage slave, there's no way I'm among Gourmet's affluent demographic. Which then lead me to ponder the actual connection between wealth and good eating. My conclusion? Eating well may be the most affordable luxury around. Consider: Even if your budget prohibits foie gras, caviar, and other stereotypical splurges, what could possibly be more indulgent than fresh, wholesome, simply prepared food? A juicy orange, a buttery bowl of fresh fettuccini, a crisp Ohio apple... all luxurious, sensual interludes available at bargain-basement prices. You don't have to be Martha Stewart to bake a batch of brownies; or Bill Gates to tuck into freshly baked bread. Grow fresh tomatoes on your doorstep. Bring home broccoli from a farm stand. Or simply skip the junk food for a month, and use the savings to dine at a great restaurant. My guess is that's why food --- growing it, buying it, cooking it, eating it, or simply reading about it — has become a national passion, right up there with music, film, and sex. Visceral, pleasurable, and always luxurious, eating well is the great equalizer, a true indulgence that nearly any of us can afford. -- Elaine T. Cicora

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