Not all splurges have to be on a grand scale; great pleasure also comes from the small indulgences: good sea salt. A peppery, green olive oil on the salad. One fabulous cheese. A better brand of chocolate in the mousse. It makes a difference.
Another great source of pleasure is categorically distinct from the above suggestions. In a word, it’s pork. Pork in and of itself is a kind of luxury for me. It may not be expensive — except as prosciutto and some other European hams — but it has a sensuality that people tend to mete out to themselves. Myself, I would go anywhere for pork. At a recent party, a friend brought roasted pork legs (uncured hams) that had been marinated Cuban-style in garlic and citrus juices for days. Succulent, funky, tender, juicy, lasciviously rich, sticky, crisp-skinned, this pork stunned people, stupefied them with sheer pleasure. Then there are pork roasts stuffed with prunes, glazed with marmalade, stewed with onions; pork shanks with their skin and fat crisped and chewy — oh, and let’s not forget the incredible indulgence of homemade chicharrones, pork fat fried in fat and served (of course) with salt and hot sauce. And, of course, there’s pork belly (uncured bacon), available in Asian markets for a song, which is easily braised to a slippery, sexy, salty mouthful of pure pleasure . . . and hey, you can work it off with a good run and a mound of leafy bitter greens tomorrow.
To sum it up: Surprise your friends with their favorite foods, and introduce novelty sparingly. Splurge. And don’t forget pork, the noun.