The Top 10 Secrets of All-You-Can-Eat Dining
What’s a normal dinner out? An appetizer, an entree, maybe some drinks, and double that if you’re on a date. So why pay retail? With this simple guide to the all you can eat, stop noshing and start fressing like a schnorrer!
1) Be hungry
This goes without saying, right? But watch the buffet line — those folks who can only manage thirds or fourths, those are the chumps who stuffed themselves with Doritos on the way over. Eat a big, starchy breakfast, then just drink water the rest of the day. You want your stomach stretched out (to accommodate the food), but empty of calories. Then prime your glands by reading take-out menus, endlessly refreshing foodporndaily.com, or hanging out with that friend that always listens to Phish. You know the one.
2) Choose wisely
Not all buffets are the same. The Indian lunch might look like a good grab, until you realize they wheel the carts off at 2:00 pm, just as you’re heading up for a third scoop of malai kofta. Likewise, restaurants that only run all-you-can-eat in a challenge scenario are a bad bet. Sixteen pounds of Macho Nachos may sound appealling, but unless you’re Kobayashi, you’re going to end up paying for them at an outrageous markup. Let the schlemiels have at that while you go to a dedicated buffet.
3) Prepare your table
A little preparation will help you cram every delicious calorie into your body with a maximum of efficiency, letting you focus on being the metaphorical plague of locusts. Choose a table that’s as close as possible to the buffet, or to the kitchen if it isn’t self-serve. Take a brief pass to stockpile extra utensils, napkins, sauces and sundries, as you don’t want to waste five minutes after realizing you sent your fork back with the busboy.
4) Plan your attack
Take one trip around the buffet just for reconnaissance. It takes discipline, and you’re starving, but knowing there’s lobster at the end means you’ll waste less of your plate on corn dogs or egg rolls. Remember, the goal isn’t to maximize the amount you eat, but rather to get the best value for your meal. You may eat less by volume, but planning your plate allows you to make sure you eat the most in dollars. And do we need to say that you should always use the biggest plate available? We didn’t think so.
5) No bread!
What are you, a duck at the park? You don’t ever want to be on your death bed, thinking back that you could have eaten more if you hadn’t stuffed yourself on the rolls right at the beginning of the Old Country Buffet. It’s you against the restaurant — of course they’ll keep bringing you empty starches that swell with water and cost two cents per pound. Do you want them to win, those connivers? Then don’t eat bread, rice, pasta or potatoes if you can avoid them. And don’t get fancy going to the salad bar like that can save you — you’ll never see any salad at a buffet that isn’t three-cents-a-pound iceberg lettuce with some dressing that comes out of a keg in the back.
6) Sample widely and ruthlessly
You could eat paste in your dark, lonely apartment if you just wanted calories. You’re at a restaurant with a plethora of options spread before you, a feast that would have been accorded royalty only centuries earlier, and here you are in sweat pants. So use this as an opportunity to try new foods, especially luxury foods, that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Take small portions, leave space on your plate (so the flavors don’t all slop together) and go back for what you like while eliminating even things that you feel meh about.
7) Pace yourself
Overeating can lead to cramps, vomiting and even death. Chew your food so you don’t choke (properly chewed food also clears the stomach faster, so you can eat more over time), keep hydrated and don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate. Too many would-be gorgers get hung up on the minutiae and guilt of clean plates, which dull your palate and leave you feeling less hungry and more lethargic quicker.
Especially skinny friends. Bigger guts compress stomachs, leaving their owners paradoxically unable to compete at the highest levels of eating. But by having a group of cheap, skinny schnorrers spotting you, you can push yourself further while gaining valuable intelligence about the quality of the meal. Maybe the corned beef isn’t so good. Wouldn’t you rather have a friend find that out instead of you?
9) You can beat spices
One of the tricks most frequently found at Indian, Chinese and Mexican buffets is a drastic increase in the spicing of dishes in order to encourage a more modest appreciation. Here, the secret is that fat cuts heat. You can beat spices with starches, which absorb the irritating oils of spices, but fill you up faster, or you can use fats, especially dairy, to neutralize them. A glass of milk is only a little more filling than water, but will douse the flames in your mouth instead of spreading them.
10) Know when to stop
The eyes of the dining room are upon you. The servers dread your table like planets dread Vader. You’re pretty sure that some mother just told her child to never, ever eat like you. Ignore them. They are jealous of your greatness. But that feeling in the back of your throat? The slow wobble every time you stand up? The head-rush that comes with all your blood being sequestered in your stomach? It’s time to tidy up, tip well, and retire. Drink lots of water to help the digestion, take a nap. We like to calculate the amount of money we’ve saved by not buying dishes piecemeal, and have been known to keep a map with the best values pinned on it. You’ve won, you cheap bastard, now relish it.
By: Josh Steichmann