Friday, 5 November 2010

The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 5: The Collapse

Having narrowly escaped my dessert urges at Bellagio the night before (see part 4), this promised to be my greatest test: a wedding for which the reception dinner was, naturally, a buffet. This took place at the Paris Casino.

The rules of buffet mastery I had established were:

#1 eat good food, avoid the junk
#2 make your gluttony pay for itself
#3 skip dessert
#4 obtain strategic dessert substitutes
#5 don't drink too much booze
#6 don't drink fizzy drinks

Perhaps it was some innate rule-breaking instinct that led to what followed. Or perhaps I saw an interesting symmetry in spending the trip compiling a set of rules which I would then ceremoniously smash to pieces at the end.

The real reason, I think, was that I was already halfway down the vortex of greed. No amount of swimming could pull me out by this point.

At the wedding, my first mistake was making no attempt to moderate the seemingly endless flow of champagne that accompanied the wedding speeches. Toast after toast, refill after refill. Bam - #5 and #6 gone.

Nevertheless, I remained almost entirely Paleo for the initial 3-plate feast, enjoying some great duck dishes (a nice departure from the normal Vegas buffet fayre), as well as some pork, chicken and beef. I even tried some oysters. Not great.

I think I had already become unhinged from my resolve way before Mrs M slammed down her plate of custard-topped apple crumble, but this was the catalyst that sent we weaving back through the tables to the dessert section, fixed determinedly my destination.

Top row good, bottom row bad

On plate 1 of the desserts, a pretty big bowl of apple crumble with some kind of synthetic cream. Nailed in short order. Plate 2, a selection of cheesecakes and cupcakes. Midway through that I started to get the sugar shivers - but manfully pressed on. Plate 3 I loaded with toffee bananas, another cupcake and some chocolate sauce that was so sweet it literally altered my DNA as it went down my throat. At some point during that plate I hit my limit.

#1 and #3, shattered.

Epilogue - Picking up the Pieces

It's hard getting out of the greed vortex. It's possible to spend weeks in there if you're not careful. Three nights of our holiday remained, but, mercifully, we were leaving Vegas after one.

On our final night in Vegas, we agreed to dodge the buffets.

At the steakhouse I did some damage to the bread basket, and later found myself queuing at the cake stall in Bally's - but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Just a couple of slices of cheesecake and then a chocolate bar from the shop at Mandalay Bay. A mere flesh wound.

Then, on our final night in New York, I was gripped by last-night fever. Two white Russians and some kind of orange marguerita before the meal pretty much wiped out my senses, so I pounced on the bread basket the minute we arrived at The Bridge Street Cafe.

When an an ill-advised and sizable portion of calamari arrived as a starter, I ate that with more bread. I was actually starting to feel full. Not a good time, then, to be presented with easily the largest steak I've had in a restaurant.

It was a also a very tasty steak, so there was no way I was leaving any of that baby; I made it a mission of the utmost priority to consume it along with most of the spinach and sweet potato side dishes.

Full as I was, there is no such thing as being too full for dessert, so I bullied Mrs M into sharing three. One was light (her choice), one was quite dense (mine) and the third was like a neutron star (again, mine.) Predictably, Mrs M ate only half of her light one.

Bravely I did battle, and bravely I did vanquish all three with specially-requested pouring cream.


The following morning, I was glad to be going home. I felt like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, being saved at last from the misery of my own excess. I may have used that analogy before, but it always feels so apt.

I have since escaped the vortex, the power of its gravity diminished by the regularity and normality of routine. As ever, the transition was made easier by healthy Paleo feasts and one or two fasts per week.

See Also:

The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 1
The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 2: Boston and LA
The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 3: Vegas Begins
The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 4: The Weakening
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