Anatomy of a Binge

Sunday, January 17, 2010 48 comments

'Apple Pie' Lefse: sweet atonement

I was doomed from the start.

In my last post, Heaven Can Weight, I alternately reveled in and lamented over the astounding buffet at Circles Café in the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, where I could be found stuffing myself every morning during our recent Philippine vacation. As a result, my luggage wasn't the only thing that went over the weight limit.

From the heights of self-indulgence to the depths of self-remorse, I've spent the past two weeks cutting back on calories, working out like a fiend and dissecting how I lost complete control of my eating in the first place. My conclusion: I had no choice - the buffet made me do it.

The Buffet-volution of Tangled Noodle

It's been my personal rule to avoid 'all-you-can-eat' establishments after an unfortunate incident a few years ago at an Indian lunch buffet involving way too much korma, lassi and gulab jamun. Many of you, I'm sure, also decline to dine without limit. But the buffet scenario isn't always so easily averted: while  we can bypass a particular restaurant, it's hard to dodge the feast at personal gatherings where commensality is part and parcel of socializing. When it results in one too many return trips to the chafing dish, we're likely to blame ourselves - just as I did - for having weak wills.

Noodle family's Noche Buena spread
As I throw myself in penance onto the elliptical machine, it may help to understand what I was up against: like the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, that sly arrangement of food served as temptation for me to take one (or more) bite of a very large apple.

Variety is the Sneaky Spice of Life

In a 2004 study about the effects of the variety and arrangement of goods on total consumption, consumer behavior researchers Barbara E. Kahn and Brian Wansink (whose book, Mindless Eating, was discussed in this blog) found that the more varied the assortment of food offered, the greater the amount of food consumed (Kahn 519). In other words, the mere sight of a large medley of eats, as in buffets, may be enough to turn an otherwise disciplined and healthy diner into a chowdown chowhound.

How exactly does it happen? Kahn and Wansink cited previous research demonstrating an increase in 'good' moods when people are faced with variety, or multiple options, which in turn may lead them to view external stimuli more positively (Kahn 521). For example, at home I usually prepare and eat only one breakfast item, such as pancakes, yogurt and granola, or eggs on toast. At Circles, however, I was faced with ALL of these at once. Although it was so far from my norm, I was so thrilled by the variety that I saw nothing wrong with putting each food on my plate.

Ironically, when faced with the choice of so many favorite breakfast foods, I was unable to pick just one. This is part of what psychologist and author Barry Schwartz calls the Paradox of Choice:
"One of the 'costs' of making a selection is losing the opportunities that a different option would have afforded ['opportunity cost'] . . . If we assume that opportunity costs reduce the overall desirability of the most preferred choice, then the more alternatives there are, the deeper the sense of loss will be and the less satisfaction we will derive from our ultimate decision." (Schwartz 72)
If I had chosen, say, only pancakes for my morning meal, I might have wondered if the eggs on toast would've tasted better. By choosing to eat all of my favorites at once, I reduced the potential risk of regret. Unfortunately, I didn't completely eliminate the second-guessing: was the immediate satiety and pleasure I felt while eating really worth the remorse and self-disgust later when I couldn't button up my jeans?

Circles Café pastry case: one of each, please

May the Force (of Habit) Be With You

While opportunity costs and trade-offs might explain why I ate different foods at one sitting, they don't shed light on why I ate such an enormous quantity of them. For illumination, I turned to a recent paper by behavioral economist David R. Just, who noted that people make rational food decisions based on hedonics (short-term sensory pleasure) or utility (long-term health and wellness); however, extra-rational (i.e. mindless) choices are often guided by heuristics, quick, low-involvement decision-making strategies, such as 'rules of thumb', habits or preferences, e.g. 'I will not have second helpings' (Just S47). The catch is that heuristics are strongly influenced by context - the condition or environment surrounding the decision, like being in front of a buffet.
"Distracting stimuli [e.g. eating with others] may influence consumption by limiting the ability to deliberate on choice and intake . . . [and] may result in selecting and consuming types of food that have short-term hedonic benefits but long-term health detriments.
"[Environmental] attributes surrounding the presentation and serving of food [also] suggest a consumption norm that dictates what and how much to eat." (Just, 851)
The idea that our surroundings serve as an eating cue is supported by Kahn and Wansink, who also observed that "if there is a social norm to choose more variety, an organized larger assortment may signal that larger consumption amounts will be socially acceptable" (Kahn, 522). At Circles, other diners' rushed past me as I cast furtive peeks at their laden plates to see what they had chosen, and I'm sure they did the same of my picks. In this atmosphere, we were all engaged in the same purpose - to eat breakfast - and the colors, textures and aromas of the abundant food around us flashed one luminous, reassuring message: it's okay to eat like a horse, you're part of the herd!

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (or Breakfast)
"I felt remarkably full but couldn't shake the feeling that since I could eat as much as I wanted, and had already paid a fixed price (about £20), two plates wouldn't cut it . . . 'Full?' I sneered at my stretching stomach. 'Get over it. I'm getting my money's worth.' " (Strimpel)
Sound familiar? It does to me. Like journalist Zoë Strimpel's experience, I've binged at a buffet until just short of passing out, determined to consume the amount of food equal to the money I spent. Once the fixed price* of all-you-can-eat has been paid, it's up to diners to decide for themselves how much to eat commensurately. To do otherwise would mean a loss of good money and, as Schwartz noted, "losses have a much greater psychological impact than gains" (73).

*Unless you live in Brazil, Peru and other countries where many buffets are 'pay per kilo'. This 'pay per weight' system is also found in many U.S. supermarkets where ready-to-go foods are offered.

Unfortunately, this kind of impetus makes us poor calculators. Once again, to avoid a negative outcome (regret before, loss now), a buffet-goer might make extra-rational food choices (per Just) in order to fulfill a socially acceptable goal - to maximize one's 'investment' in the meal. This means not only ignoring natural physical cues to stop eating, such as feeling full, but also breaking a law - an economic one, that is.

The Law of Diminishing Noodle Utility
(Graphic revised 1/17/10 - Thanks for catching the error, Tom!)

The law of diminishing marginal utility, in our context, states that with every additional bite of food, we actually take away less value from our eating endeavor. Proprietors of commercial buffets rely on this principle to operate successfully as diners rarely (with some exceptions) actually eat more than the restaurant's cost of the food. In trying to recoup our perceived costs, we consume more than is pleasurable, healthy or economic; we end up losing for winning.

An Accessory to Eating

At least in my case, the observations made by Kahn, Wansink, Just and Schwartz were borne out - the seduction of a large variety of food, the sight of others engaging in the same activity, and the need to 'come out even' came together to override the healthy eating habits that I worked long and hard to develop. It's rather disconcerting that subconscious elements have such influence on my behavior. I still believe the buffet made me do it but I'll own up to a portion of responsibility. Call it the Shangri-La Syndrome: I may have been unwittingly entrapped by Circles but in the end, I wasn't entirely unwilling to participate.

I must confess, those were the best ten days of breakfast eating EVER!

Works Cited
Just, David R. and Collin R. Payne. "Obesity: Can Behavioral Economics Help?" Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 38, Suppl 1 (2009): S47-S55.
Kahn, Barbara E. and Brian Wansink. "The Influence of Assortment Structure on Perceived Variety and Consumption Quantities." Journal of Consumer Research. 30 (March 2004): 519-532.
Schwartz, Barry. "The Tyranny of Choice." Scientific American. April 2004: 70-75.
Strimpel, Zoë. "All You Can Eat Buffets Encourage Overeating as People Strive to Get Their Money's Worth." TimesOnline. 10 Apr 2008: no pag.

Breakfast of Contrition

Now that the holidays are over, I'm back to my regular morning regimen of yogurt and granola. With the memories of overindulgence at Circles Café still fresh, I won't be cooking up huge Sunday breakfasts anytime soon. Still, I'd like to enjoy a treat. As I may have mentioned before, I love pancakes, so here are two recent iterations that are simple enough to serve as penance for my gluttony.

Atonement Apple Pie Lefse
Lefse is a traditional Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes, flour and cream and is often served simply buttered, lightly sugared or accompanied by jams and jellies (though savory fillings such as smoked fish are also popular). Luckily for me, lefse can be found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores here in Minnesota, which I used here. If you're not acquainted with a lefse-maker, consider making it yourself - check out this tutorial from Jennifer at Unplanned Cooking when she guest-posted for Greg at SippitySup.

No measurements here! Just use as much as you'd like, or try completely different ingredients.

Butter, softened
Sugar (I used organic from Mexico)
Walnuts, chopped into small pieces
Applesauce, unsweetened

Preheat oven to 325°F and place lefse on baking sheets. Spread with softened butter then sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and walnuts evenly. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until sugar melts into butter. Remove from oven, let cool just until it can be handle. Roll up each sheet and serve with applesauce on top or on the side.

Penitent Pancakes
(adapted from Totally Pancakes & Waffles Cookbook by Helene Siegel)
The original recipe for these silver dollar 'cakes called for sour cream but instead, I used Greek-style yogurt and some lemon juice for a brighter flavor. Don't be fooled by their size: they're packed with great taste and texture, proving that a little goes a long way!

A perfectly plain penance

Yields about 16 pancakes

2 eggs
1 cup Greek-style yogurt (or 3/4 cup plain yogurt)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

To Make:
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mixing well until batter is smooth;
2. Heat skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and add butter to coat. Spoon approximately 2 Tablespoons of batter onto pan, allowing space for it to spread;
3. Fry until bubbles appear on top and pancake is golden underneath. Flip and continue frying until done;
4. Serve with maple syrup, jams or powdered sugar. Enjoy!


  • Mother Rimmy said...

    I love this post. I often find myself in the same situation. Portion control is not my thing. I'm with you. Buffets aren't a good choice for me. I love the information you provide about the psychology of over eating.

  • Chef E said...

    Great post Tangled- As you know I am on battle ground turf in these situations myself, but am doing good so far. One reason when I bake I give it all away, well, after I taste a few...Pancakes got me today, I want some, but thank goodness hubby is not into buffets or breakfast, or I would be in full armor...

  • Angie's Recipes said...

    I want to try some Lefse! Didn't know about them until I read your post.
    I would probably choose not to visit the restaurants when I am on a diet, as it's just difficult to tell myself not to indulge! Or I might just go to the a la carte, as I am rather vulnerable to the buffet...

  • vanillasugarblog said...

    we have no buffets here, thank goodness! but we have all that fattening sushi that I eat like a football player. I'm a foodie I will always over eat....then diet, then overeat, then diet....

  • Daily Spud said...

    Like you, I am unable to resist the call of the buffet, though it is scary to have my behaviour in that situation so perfectly described by the learned people you quote! I think, perhaps, that the secret for me is to mostly avoid those buffet situations but, on those occasions when I am presented with a variety-laden buffet, to enjoy it and hope that there is not too much in the way of penance to do afterwards :)

    As for the lefse, I clearly need to try my hand at making these potato pancakes (but I knew that already!)

  • Tom said...

    Nice post but I think you got your axes mixed up on the amount of enjoyment vs amount of food graph, unless your enjoyment just keeps going up and up for some reason.

  • Jenn said...

    I try to avoid buffets as much as I can when on a trip. But then again being around family it's always a buffet, so there is that temptation. I'll usually just take my fill and leave it at that.

    But I do want to try that lefse. They remind me of crepes.

  • SKIP TO MALOU said...

    what a fascinating post you have here! i am in the same boat as you are.

    "i weighed in... i gained... i sighed... i blamed the holidays... STOP! time to reset! ok... day 1 (again!)" That was my FB status 2 weeks ago and guess what, it was the longest thread i've ever had in my entire FB life haha! I should share this post of yours to all of them!

  • kat said...

    Yeah, I'm one of those if its there I'll eat it or drink it sort of people. I'm sort trying to change that by not having it there...

  • gastroanthropologist said...

    Lefse is a staple in our Norwegian household! I too am lucky to have a Scandi shop near by that has frozen lefse, though at some point I have said I will always make my own. It's kind of like pasta - so easy to make, but so much easier to buy!

    Buffets are terrible for me. I always go for more. - even if I'm stuffed to the gills. I think its the Asian in me that always wants to make sure I'm getting my money's worth. Like ordering the giant latte because I'm getting so much more for an extra 10 cents. Not even thinking about all that milk that will make me sick.

    I'm getting better about that. I am no longer so tempted with the buy one get one frees. I just buy what I need. I rationalize that I'm cutting down on food waste and if I overeat I am not getting my money's worth - I just get sick or fat. I still however always, always feel the need to clean my plate.

    You've definitely given me some food for thought with this post!

  • Bergamot said...

    nice post...very true too... economists would be happy to see the law of diminishing utility being quoted so aptly here. the pancakes look simply amazing

  • Christo Gonzales said...

    I have heard of Lefse and I have seen Lefse but I have never tried Lefse - time to change that - I like all you can eat seafood buffets and I dont care what everyone else does but if its shrimp and crab and salmon and sushi I am going to eat and eat and eat!

  • Velva said...

    I have no doubt that we have all faced this situation more than once in our lives. No doubt, it will happen again. Life is to be enjoyed not deploring ourselves for over indulging-sometimes, we fall prey to the buffet. We return home, we exercise a bit more strenuously, we take our food in moderation and we balance out. It's okay.
    Looks like you had a fabulous vacation and the food was just as good.

  • Bob said...

    I also make it a point not to go to places with buffets. It's just not worth it. Heh.

    Man, I wish I could get lefse in the supermarkets around here! Wicked jealous.

  • Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

    I've to avoid also often the restaurant with free-buffet or without limits - they're only allowed after long trainings :)

    Love the buffet evolution pic :) and what a spread of gorgeous food here..the pancakes are really outstanding!

    Have a great week,


  • Manggy said...

    Unfortunately, I didn't completely eliminate the second-guessing: was the immediate satiety and pleasure I felt while eating really worth the remorse and self-disgust later when I couldn't button up my jeans?
    My quick and unequivocal answer: not even a little bit! It's for this reason that I always prefer to get from the a la carte menu, but the last time I attempted that stunt with my mum when we were in a pan-Asian buffet with my tita and cousins, her reply was a quick hush-hush and suck it up and go to the buffet, you antisocial freak (ok, not in those words). Of course I felt terrible.

    So, when faced with an included breakfast buffet, I prefer to go for what I discovered touring Europe: granola (or any nice cereal) on yogurt, fresh fruit. The end. (But if there's tocino... Not likely outside the Philippines.)

    I love the very regretful names of the recipes! Bwa ha ha.

  • Lisa said...

    Wow, so much effort and thought into one amazing post. Thanks for all the work you put into it.

    That being said, I'm lucky in that I find no appeal in buffets, nor do I enjoy large breakfasts. The biggest I have is on Sunday, when I make pancakes and sausage/bacon/scrapple and even then it's only two 'cakes and one piece of meat. Just don't like that much food first thing. What I have done with buffets when confronted is try to get a coffee or tea in me first, then one serving of something carb-y that I might not have every day at home, usually a fun muffin or really gorgeous roll. If I'm feeling at all cheated, I'll get one piece of breakfast meat on the side. That way I'm able to function without regret.

    Lunch and dinner, though, look out! :-)

  • Anonymous said...

    A terrific article! I may not be able to resist the urge to try everything in a buffet myself, but my husband and daughter are pretty restrictive so I just go along with small portions as well. I have to try the lefse really soon, I love the no measurements recipe, perfect for me!

  • sophia said...

    Fascinating. And I've already read some of the stuff you mentioned, but I loved how you brought it all together into one coherent post. You've got some great organization and writing skills, my friend!

    Hahaha, I totally LOVED that little comic you included.
    But yeah, I actually stay away from buffets, because you never, EVER get your money's worth. That's why I'm really hating this meal plan I have now. And besides, the food quality sucks in buffets.

  • Lori said...

    Loved reading your research re-cap here. It's such an interesting subject and strongly related to our weight issues in the US in my opinion. We had sworn off buffets both for the eating-to-much reason and the fact that I was becoming a bit of a germ-a-phobe.

    Then we moved to Brazil we had to get comfortable with them again due to the por kilo buffets. They are often the only option at lunch especially if you want local food, which why wouldn't we? :) It is easier not to overeat when you pay per kilo, but it was also very inexpensive on the US dollar so still easy to overeat.

    We are back to no buffets except for the occasional Indian buffet or sometimes brunch when we are in Vegas. It is crazy how all those options make us eat so much though. You just gotta try everything no matter how it makes you feel afterward!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    It's great to read about your experiences and personal rules re: buffets. I'm all for bounty but it can be such a sensory overload!

    Mother Rimmy - Thank you and welcome! I usually do well with portion control and avoiding buffets but stepping into Circles was like getting sucked into a whirlpool - you just go limp and let it take control (ugh). Stopped by at your site and really appreciate the nutritional info for each recipe!

    Chef E - Having too much food around, no matter how good, is always a pitfall for me. I'm better at control with food I make at home but not always.

    Angie - I haven't tried making lefse from scratch so I'm fortunate that they're available in the grocery. They're delicious! Now that I'm back at home, the 'holiday' mentality is gone and I feel that I can avoid these overeating situations much better.

    Dawn - That's been my cycle but I notice it's getting harder and harder as the years pass. What took me 2 weeks to pack on is taking WAAAAAY longer to shed. 8-( Though you don't have buffets, I'm glad I don't have all that sushi - I would overdose so quickly, I love it so much.

    Spud - That's precisely what I thought about the marketing research! I feel as if we don't have as much free agency on food choices as we think. This time, the penalty for having a great time at the buffet has been really onerous - enough, I think, to finally put me off 'all-you-can-eat' for good. But what a way to go, eh? 8-D

    Tom - Thanks again for catching that error! I was too busy admiring the curve itself and didn't pay any attention to the axes.

    Jenn - Strangely enough, I'm much better at family or party buffets! Perhaps it's because there's lots of food but not in the enormous quantity that's in a restaurant. As for the lefse, they're like a heartier crepe - two of these totally satisfied me for most of the day.

    Impromptu Diva - Thanks! I think that this is one boat with a lot of passengers! I'm just hoping that I can 'reset' myself before the next holidays. 8-D

    Kat - That's always the best policy. I avoid buying too much food because then I know I'll have that can't-waste-it-so-eat-it mentality and I try to make recipes that have no more 4 servings (just enough for leftovers). Still, I love to eat . . . 8-)

    Gastroanthropology - Between lefse and aebleskivers, I'm convinced that I must have some Nordic blood in me! Getting my money's worth has always been the undermining factor when I find myself in a buffet. What I didn't mention here was that Circles was included in our room charges, so the pennypincher in me just couldn't bare to 'waste' that.

    Like you, I've been retraining my mindset about costs but it's tough here in the US - so much is geared toward 'bulk' and economies of scale. I wish there were more 'pay per weight' markets and restaurants - I think that system really helps me to take only what is needed. Thanks so much for your insight!

    Bergamot - I'm strangely fascinated by microeconomics applied to food! 8-) As for the pancakes, I can never get enough of them (though I have to hold back for now). Thanks!

    Doggybloggy - At least you can focus on specifics; I'm embarrassingly non-discriminatory with my food intake. If it's edible, chances are I'll take a bite; if it's delicious, too, then I'll take more than one bite.

    Rebecca - Thank you! If only my class papers were this much fun to write . . .!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Velva - You're right that I should enjoy the memories and work back to better habits. I suppose that the self-flagellation comes from mainly from disappointment that I succumbed so easily. Still, it was wonderful to join my family every morning at the breakfast table - it's well-worth the cardio sessions today!

    Bob - It's easier for me now back at home; I'm no longer captive in the hotel! 8-) As for lefse, I do count myself lucky that I can get my hands on it.

    Gera - And since I rarely do long trainings, I'm no longer allowed near a buffet! As many have mentioned here, it's almost likely that I'll be faced with this situation again, so I hope that I'll remember this time and pace myself much better.

    As for the comic strip, I had a lot of fun putting that together! It was like being a kid again, drawing with crayons!

    Manggy - Yes! The unspoken peer/social pressure to eat was there - not from anyone I knew but from seeing everyone else 'doing it'. After a few days, I even put that pressure on my family - I looked at one of my sisters' plate and said, "Is that all?" Gah!!!

    As for your strategy - thank you! That's what I need to do next time. And it would be fun looking for a grocery store nearby . . . Have you noticed that I'm an alliteration addict? 8-D

    Fahrenheit 350 - My parents and most of our family are there, though my sisters all live in SoCal. We stayed primarily in Makati/Manila but also spent 3 great days in Boracay. Loved it is an understatement - we'd live there given the opportunity! Hope you enjoyed your visit as well!

    Lisa - Thank you! I love breakfasts but normally am able to keep myself in check, simply because I'm usually the cook and I control the output! 8-D

    I never thought to start by finishing a cup of coffee or tea first - that would certainly take the edge off the hunger first. If (hope not!) I ever find myself in such a buffet situation again, that will be a great strategy to use!

    5 Star - Thanks so much! It's a great help to have others around you from whom you can take the lead. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me - my husband was much more deliberate in his choices but I was a wild woman! I'd love to hear what interesting fillings you and your daughter might come up with. 8-)

    Sophia - Thank you! I thinks it's fascinating how business and economics are so relevant to our food choices and eating behaviors. I'm such a fan of Dr. Wansink and his colleagues - they are really at the forefront of consumer behavior (particularly eating).

    You're right about buffets but I have to say that Circles is like no buffet I've ever encountered in the US. Still, it can be a nutritional trap! As for the comic strip, that was a lot of fun putting together. I may have to continue using it in future posts . . .

    Stacy - Thank you! I'm always for simple, easy and tasty! 8-)

    Juliana - Thanks! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it!

    Lori - It's a complex issue and yet when we really consider it, it seems to boil down to Dr. Wansink's idea of 'mindless' food choices.

    I avoid buffets first and foremost because of the 'getting my money's worth' aspect but hygiene is the next big issue. But I was fascinated by your mentions of the pay per kilo dining in Brazil - I didn't realize that it is basically the only option for eating lunch out. Still, it dovetails better with my issues about cost/value than fixed price, all you can eat.

    I won't way that I absolutely will never eat at a commercial buffet again but I do hope that I'll be much more mindful about its effects! Thanks so much for your observations!

  • Marvin said...

    This was such a great read. I never gave much thought to why I tend to overeat, I always just chalk it up to hunger. But I guess if I really think about it, sometimes I eat more than I should because sometimes I think it's expected of me. I don't pay much attention to my weight these days, but I'm sure it'll catch up with me as I get older.

  • Anonymous said...

    very interesting and informative post! coupled with beautiful pics too. binging/eating in general is so fraught with decisions and consequences, i wish we could all eat when we're hungry and stop when we're full! the all-you-can-eat concept has always bothered me!

  • The Beancounter said...

    I am one of those who suffer regret at the end of a buffet meal. Most times I do not feel I get my money’s worth. My desire to try everything leaves me less than satisfied (and sometimes not even full)…I do not get to enjoy what I really like in the pursuit of wanting to taste all...10 consecutive days of breakfast buffet would probably a bit different!

    Once again, enjoyed reading your post immensely! Great looking cartoon, btw!

  • Mariana Kavroulaki said...

    I hate buffets!I love buffets!!!
    The hedonist in me says:follow the Greek proverb "If you have to choose between a fruit and a fruit-salad prefer fruit-salad to fruit".
    And then the good-mannered woman in me says: don't eat more than you should! Control yourself!!
    I think you know who the winner is!

  • History of Greek Food said...

    I hate buffets!I love buffets!!!
    The hedonist in me says:follow the Greek proverb "If you have to choose between a fruit and a fruit-salad prefer fruit-salad to fruit".
    And then the good-mannered woman in me says: don't eat more than you should! Control yourself!!
    I think you know who the winner is!

  • Divina Pe said...

    That is so true. Whenever I stuff myself with food from the buffet table, I would tell myself that I would never eat like that again. But when buffet time comes again, I would be excited to try all the food. And your breakfast treats are mouthwatering.

  • Midge said...

    I was giggling throughout this post...till I took note of my own post-Holiday spare tire! It's back to the treadmills for me - but since when have workouts kept me out of the kitchen?! :D

  • Susan @ SGCC said...

    You illuminated the very reasons why I try to avoid buffets at all cost! No matter what I choose, I'm always left feeling like I'm missing out because I didn't also choose something else. And, my frugal nature always pushes me to take waaaay too much food because I feel I should get my money's worth. A lose-lose situation for me to be sure!

  • Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

    We normally steer clear of buffets, especially those where the food has been sitting around for a long time. But it sounds like you found a great one.

    We stayed at the ritzy Boca Raton Resort and they had a fabulous seafood buffet on the Atlantic Ocean beach side of their property displaying the finest and freshest of seafood. Stone crab claws, jumbo prawns, top quality crab, steamed Maine lobsters (no "Red Lobster" kind of seafood here). We practically lived at that buffet all week but when we got home we were craving a plain old cheeseburger.

    Your Lefse and pancakes look like the perfect solution when you arrive home after a lavish week.

  • Admin said...

    Haha. What a fun post! I love your cute illustrations. :)

    Don't need studies to tell me that we all eat more when presented with a wide variety of dishes. We eat in the absence of hunger to begin with and that problem is made worse when choices abound. Hunger has nothing to do with it. We all have had those moments when we're so full after a huge piece of steak that one more bite would make us sick, then 2 seconds after saying/thinking that dive head first for a piece of cheesecake.

    The only reason I go to any buffet restaurant these days is when I try out a new cuisine like Ethiopian, Burmese, Bhutanese, etc. In that case, being able to sample a bit of several dishes makes sense.

  • Phyllis said...

    My family loves buffets so I am forced to accompany them a couple times a year. But I'm the type of customer that buffets make their profit on - I only load up on the cheap stuff - mashed potatoes, pasta, pastries, so I'm usually too full to hit the carving station. And I love the idea of pancakes as penance!

  • MrsLavendula said...

    such a great read! i do try to avoid buffets now as i realize, no matter how i condition my mind to get just a bit of what i really want, i end up getting a good portion of those and a bit of my not so favorite food items! once i even decided i would get a la carte in one of the buffet places we took our relatives to but once i saw the dessert spread my will power was gone with the wind! hahaha!

  • Carolyn Jung said...

    I don't know anyone who can exercise restraint at a buffet. You're right about the law of diminishing returns, too. That's the famous philosophy Chef Thomas Keller abides by at the French Laundry. Every dish is designed to be about three bites, because he believes any more than that and your palate starts to fatigue. He wants you to have enjoy it, but to wish you had just one more bite of it before it's gone.

  • zerrin said...

    You're completely true about buffets and making choices. I fight with the monster inside me not to eat all the foods served especially at breakfast. This apple pie lefse and pancakes would be my first and second choices though.
    I love the cartoons here, definitely reftecting me.


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