April 4th

theresa albert - my friend in food


Dining in the Buff


Depending on whom you speak to, the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet is either the greatest invention known to Mankind or the scrourge of the earth.   Personally, in order to keep my calorie consumption in check, I tend to avoid them but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them.   For an ADD eater like me, a panoply of food offerings is my idea of heaven.

There are certain situations in which a buffet is not optional:  All-inclusive resorts, conferences, weddings and other celebrations mean that sooner or later you will find yourself standing, plate in hand, staring down a dizzying dozen chafing dishes and delectable displays of breads, salads, fruits and desserts.   When you get there, you will find that there are as many approaches to this smorgasbord of sustenance as there are comestibles to consider.

Witness The Binger:  As if he has not eaten since the Dark Ages, he plunges into the breach with wild abandon; piling his plate to Everestian proportions.   Like Sir Edmund Hilary, when asked why he wanted to climb said mountain, the Binger’s reasoning is the same:  “Because it’s there.”  This quickly becomes a battle of wills between the desires of the tongue and the capacity of the stomach for as the Binger will soon discover, most buffet side dish selections have the relative weight of a Hummer SUV.

In the opposite camp is The Bird:  This specimen slowly circles the display, cannily judging each item on exhibit for potential palate pleasing portions.   After it has all been taken in visually and assessed in the mind, small portions can be meted out to the plate, sometimes leaving enough space so that Mr. Peas do not touch Mrs. Mashed Potato lest they infect each other in some fashion.

My approach lies somewhere in between.   As my brain tells me to guard against overeating and calorie-laden foods such as the crispy and delectable deep fried items and the carbo-rich, gravy-drenched temptations, my tongue says, “Quick, put some on the plate while I’m not looking!”   To mitigate the damage I do to my “bottom line”, I always start at the salad bar.   My thinking is if I can fill up on veggies first, my brain will win out but still let my tongue have a few little treats, only in smaller portions.   If I don’t do that, there’s a good chance I will just plunge head first into the Fettucini Alfredo and festoon myself with onion rings.

Still, even with the precautions I take, the only real way to balance out the amount I will consume is to ensure that the buffet is at the top of a very steep hill with a winding staircase of at least 500 steps which I would be required to ascend on a pogo stick.  Then again, if that were the case, I would never leave!



Ilana Waldston is the mother of two teenage girls who keeps sane by singing. A graduate of the prestigious International Cabaret Conference at Yale, she’s been delighting Toronto audiences with her comedic patter and well-honed ability to sell a song. She’s a self-professed foodie, loves to bake, travel and dine (often all at once) who sometimes sings of food in songs such as “My Diet Starts Tomorrow”, “Dieter’s Prayer” and “Foodblooz”. In addition to her solo work, she’s also a part of Toronto’s only female jazz quartet, The Satin Dolls... www.jazznlaughs.ca


4 Responses

    Theresa Albert
    March 30, 2011 at 4:49 am Reply

    Did you see my conversation with Rebecca Eckler about buffets? http://www.chatelaine.com/en/blog/post/25880–buffet-maniac-staying-healthy-when-it-s-all-you-can-eat

    You could have written it!

    March 30, 2011 at 8:21 am Reply

    Oooh, Theresa, that’s a good interview! Some great advice in there; I would have never thought about digging into the middle of the food to get the hottest (safest) stuff… I’ll keep that in mind next time.

    March 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm Reply

    Your title inspires me to actually dine in the buff. I am sure all body exposed would cause me to consume less at each sitting!

    March 31, 2011 at 7:06 pm Reply

    I always enjoy your off-the-wall views on things, Ilana. Haven’t been to a buffet in ages, but put me in front of a sweet table, and I’m TOAST! One little cookie is never enough.

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