Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The only way to travel…stuck in your seat

Some people are prone to all sorts of aberrant behavior when they’re away from home. There’s a reason, after all, for the slogan, “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” (It works for Washington, too.) But there are secrets and there are secrets. Beyond those, there’s a mode of straying with which my family is all too familiar: When we take off from home, particularly to the South, I will have scouted out breakfast buffets long before we get there. With the fervent hope of stuffing myself silly at the first of multiple opportunities.

You might not know it to look at me, for I control my diet and exercise well during the day-to-day at home. I also was blessed with my father’s metabolic genes and as a kid, the saying goes, could stand under a clothesline during a rainstorm and not get wet. And it’s not like I don’t watch my weight while I’m away. I just watch it, oh, either direction it chooses to go.

Many know my buffet of choice, a chain called Golden Corral. Like other such restaurants, you pay one price for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can go back up for more—I know from experience—as many times as you want. With breakfast, my favorite, one station has a guy making omelets to order; at dinner, it’s steaks. Every meal has a fruit bar and, appropriately at the opposite end, a dessert bar. It can get very crowded.

I just returned from Fort Myers, Florida, where my boss’s boss, Robert, and I visited my magazine’s mower and tractor test site for a story I’m writing for spring publication. Robert typically has much to say about every restaurant he’s visited. And I wondered whether he’d appreciate coming along to where I make at least one stop for dinner during this annual trip. (Tragically, it isn’t open for breakfast on weekdays.) We got on the cashier line, from which I gestured toward the various stations and described the various stops of our destiny. “It looks like a supermarket of gluttony,” he commented. That’s the spirit.

A minute later we were seated, and I made a point of mentioning the steak bar to ensure he knew what was there. The first plate he brought back included a modestly sized, inch-thick steak that, he soon told me, was among the most tender he’d ever eaten—not bad for 14 bucks. And three or four platefuls later, including the banana pudding I knew would be there without checking, he was hooked. “It’s an overeater’s mecca,” he said on our way out the door.

“Over” is indeed the key word. I’d be in a real quandary if a good buffet restaurant opened up in the New York metropolitan area, for I know that buffets are attractive merely because I travel but a few times a year. And while we’re on vacation, I really do appreciate that we wouldn’t want to spend the first third of every day eating. (Having coffee needs some time, too!) So we tend to hit such establishments once or twice in a weeklong trip and eat those little boxes of cereal plus fruit on other days.

But when I’m traveling on business? I admit that I don’t race each morning toward the nearest buffet breakfast, shouting something that sounds vaguely like “Banzai!” I walk, like a true gentleman, and hold my tongue.

You’d best not be in the way.


  1. banzai -- love it -- reminds me of the good ole days of howard johnsons all you can eat nights -- thanks for another fun blog to read

  2. Thank *you,* cfwb! We had no car, so no trips to HoJo's--which I guess is why I'm making up for it now.

  3. You pegged Golden Corral perfectly, Ed! Just GREAT food, well made, at a bargain price! Love it.