All You Can Eat

I'm a sucker for an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The irony of this statement is that I have the stomach capacity of a two year old. I can ingest about 4-6 ounces of protein and about a cup of other food in one sitting. And this constitutes a BIG meal for me. One would think that I'd be Audry Hepburn-thin, the way I eat. But, alas, due to my Southern Italian genealogy and my gastro-snobbery, I'm destined to be thick. Even when I was young, and really thin, I had chunky fingers, fat calves, and an appetite - clear indicators, all, to my impending girth.

At my worst, I weighed a couple of pounds shy of 220. Today, I fit comfortably in a size 12 and uncomfortably in a size 10 and I'm okay with that. Because, ultimately, there are certain things I'll never give up - like buffets.

In the past few days, I've eaten at three different all-you-can-eat establishments. I feel like a whale right now and plan to spend the weekend recovering with yogurt smoothies, and maybe a salad. In the meantime, I'd like to wax rhapsodic about my love for the trough.

Years ago, trough eating was just that - shoveling in copious amounts of food, like a farm animal, until I was in a veritable coma. It has nothing to do with the food itself, only the quantity available. For me, this was the era of the cheap Chinese buffet.

Then I had surgery and I couldn't trough-eat anymore. It was sad but a good exercise in portion control. The unexpected side-effect of the surgery was that I became much more selective about the food I DID eat. If I can only eat a couple of cups of food, why would I waste any of that stomach-space on cheap bread or overcooked meats? Suddenly what the food tasted like became infinitely more important than how much there was.

Then, one shiny day, I discovered the "gourmet buffet" and I'd found the perfect confluence of quantity and quality.

When a decent restaurant does a buffet, I can choose many different items and still eat a small portion of food overall. I'm their best customer because I consume the least and - pound-for-pound - pay more for my meal than anyone else in the room. But their service to me is to allow me the variety I crave without having to throw out half of the meal.*

So, this week, I indulged in a Japanese buffet, an Indian buffet, and the meat-parade of a Brazilian churrascaria. Granted, I did "overeat" - walking out with a ludicrously full belly after each meal. But, my lack of willpower aside, these buffets allowed me to not feel guilty about taking one cube of potato from the potato salad bowl, or one small piece of California Roll. These minuscule portions mean that I can try everything on the buffet that appeals to me. And, I'm telling you, it was ALL good (except maybe the undercooked lamb at the Brazilian place.)

Chow down, babies.

- Alex

*Please don't lecture me about leftovers. They're just not the same.


  1. I can identify. I'll take a decent buffet over even the best steakhouse any day.

  2. Oh yeah... choice makes all the difference.