Friday, April 2, 2010
It's my losing weight rant. It's easter, my fridge is full of emergency-visitor food and my larder is groaning with chocolate. My kitchen has become one big hotel buffet and I can't handle hotel buffets. The last time I moved over to the dark-side food-wise was after Kelly’s hotel a number of years ago. Three nights and four days we were there. Breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea – then the thing that finished me off altogether – “kids dinner buffet” at six. Two hours after a plethora of miniature cream cakes were sitting, struggling with my big lunch for digestive space – I am firing delicious home-made chicken goujons in on top of them begging my already stuffed son to go up again because ‘it’s free’. By day three I was waddling down to a gourmet dinner in my husband’s track suit bottoms like a scary trailer park American entering a bratwurst-eating contest.
Generally speaking, I can handle a breakfast buffet. There is an air of hearty optimism in eating early and everyone knows it’s not humanly possible to stay in an Irish hotel without eating one’s own bodyweight in fried meat before ten am. Otherwise what’s the point? If watching your weight you leave one rasher on the plate then replace it with fruit, yogurt and cereal to compensate your system and keep everything ‘moving’. On your way past the ‘breads’ table you spot a pain au chocolat, and grab one saying “I’ll have it instead of lunch”. You eat it in the lift on the way up to your room to put on something with a looser waistband but still, it’s early. The day is ahead of you and the good things is that you are so stuffed you could not possibly eat another bite all day long and you are going to go for a long, long walk and….. “Lunch? Are you mad?” I said to my sister when she said she had booked us into the Radisson Galway for lunch, after I had just finished inhaling a pile of creamy scrambled eggs, delicious, dark chocolaty wild mushrooms and half a sizzled pig, “I couldn’t possibly eat lunch!” My mother and sister looked at each other. “You’ll be hungry by two,” my mother said. “It’s a buffet,” Claire said, then her face clouded with the realisation of what she had done, “please don’t torture me.”
“With what?” I said, offended. “With the running commentary,” she said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, “I’m just going to have a small plate of light salad, and some cold meats is all.”
“Here we go,” she said.
When lunchtime came I took a small plate and heading towards the salad and cold meats section, “I am just going to have a starter and that’s it.”
By the time the others sat down with their starters I was up again “sampling” the smoked salmon and a cous-cous dish I had missed the first time around.
“Will I or won’t I have a main course,” I agonised for the next ten minutes. “I mean, it’s paid for – and I could not have potatoes …” My sister tried not to involve herself in my torturous decision-making process but blinked, silently, in irritation. I went up and had the full roast, and justified myself loudly and needlessly with every mouthful. Then because I had already indulged, I sampled every pudding until I found one I was happy with – and made myself feel so thoroughly miserable I had to sign up to Weightwatchers again.
Too much choice makes me greedy and neurotic. The hotel buffet as a metaphore for modern life.