Friday, 15 April 2011

The Buffet—a guide.

One of the joys of life on the road is the occasional chance and opportunity to ‘pig out’ at a buffet. Buffets are one of life’s little surprises, a pleasant surprise (and that is often a surprise, in itself). Rather than sit stiffly gazing at a menu, one has the opportunity to sight one’s prey, to seek out and acquire one’ food. Very manly. When you are hungry, when you need the big meal, when you are ready to eat—find a buffet.

Where to find your buffet.
Buffets are all around us, you just have to look. Most of the ‘prestigious’ hotels have buffets, usually breakfast and lunch, but also dinner. Some of the ‘cheap charlie’ hotels around the world also have. In Pattaya for example (a great city) several hotels have $4 buffet breakfasts and $6 buffet dinners, and not bad quality. Take the time to scout out what is available in your vicinity and to find the best deal: check websites, browse through foursquare, ask your facebook buddies. On your hunt you will notice that prices can vary widely between the same level of hotels, also look for specials. 
i. Preparation
This may seem obvious, but do not eat before the buffet begins. If it is a brekky buffet, do not eat the night before. If a dinner, east a light brekky, and skip lunch. Even have a nap beforehand. Some light exercise will get your metabolism buzzing, ready to process that buffet goodness. Be Prepared ! You might also want to avoid carrying excess baggage into the restaurant, notice I said a”void”.
ii. Curtesy
When you enter the restaurant be courteous to the wait staff. Nod to the boss waiter, tell the cute waitress a joke. This makes yourself known, and even a little liked.
iii. Money
Pay when you enter (most places do this), get the money out of the way. Tell them that you are eating the buffet, nothing else. This leaves you free to concentrate on what you came here for.
iv. Location location location
Find the correct table and chair. Somewhere close to the food, away from the toilets and not on an isle. This keeps you close to what you want, and minimises annoying other people. Try also to get some elbow room, put a bag on the chair next to you. A man needs his space, specially when eating.

v. Scout it out
You are now ready to make your move, but, first, walk through the food area. Take a look, suss out your targets. This can be difficult, it is always tempting to jump in and fill a plate, but don’t. Figure out where everything is, then make your move. 
vi. Utensils & accoutrements
Get the biggest plate available, and fill it up. None of this small plate for this and that rubbish, pile it on—but fill your plate, not bury it. For the rest, napkins, sauces, cutlery, walk in, grab what you will need for your stay, and take it back to your place.

vii. Prioritise
Identify what you like to eat, make sure you get plenty of that. Keep an eye out for something new. Put a piece of that on your plate, try it. 
viii. Trickery 
Avoid fizzy drinks. These fill your stomach with gas, limiting how much food you can eat. Clearly, a trick by unscrupulous restauranteurs. Drink water and fruit juice, tea if included (some restaurants with a buffet attempt to trick you into buying expensive drinks. Say to these bad people: “Just water, thanks”.)
ix. Eat healthy
When I say ‘I like to eat’, I do not mean 3kgs of chocolate fudge cake, with extra sugar and chocolate poured on top of the chocolate. We all want to live, part of achieving this is to eat smart, which means to eat healthily. Fruit and veg, fruit juice, water, not too much oil. You know what I am talking about. We control our urges (thus enhancing), or they control us.
x. Company
If you are eating to eat, then bring along either just yourself, or like minded people. Avoid pesky relatives or annoying spouses, who will question your motives and style.

xi. Pace yourself
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Eat a plate, sit back for a moment, let the body process. Buffet usually last a few hours, use every moment.

Don’t be intimidated by owners or managers who want you to leave before you are full. Know what you want, go directly to it, and get it. Avoid children and old people, they slow you down. Don’t waste food, someone has to work to make it. Always get a clean plate. Never eat on your feet, you have a chair for a reason, use it. Allocate an hour or two after the buffet for relax. You had a busy day, you have earned a break. 

Lastly, leave a tip. It’s a hard job being a waiter.

See you—next to the potato salad.

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