A Strategic Guide to Beating a Buffet


A Strategic Guide to Beating a Buffet

Illustration: Arati Gujar

As a broke 20-something buying cigarettes by the stick instead of the pack, one thing I’m not used to is unlimited choices. This is why I’m a complete embarrassment to my family and friends whenever I get an opportunity to eat at a buffet spread. I experience what the privileged folks of the world call “the curse of choice”. There are too many dishes to try, and no one judges you for taking three helpings of dessert. Maybe this is why I pick everything. Usually, I start with some crappy salad that I would much rather avoid, I try three different soups because who orders that off the menu, and I also try everything vegetarian because, you know, my body is my temple. And then I wonder why I feel too bloated to go for the special dishes.

But that is not not how you eat at a buffet. In fact that is the worst possible way to eat in general. However, thanks to my many failed attempts at conquering buffets, I have realised that a few strategies come in handy when going on an eating binge. Here’s a list of ways you can win the next round of man vs food.

The Reconnaissance Mission: Know Your Enemy

The most important part about eating at a buffet is knowing what’s on offer. You can’t just wing it and hope for the best. That is RGV’s strategy, and we can see how that’s turning out for him. You need a vaguely sustainable game plan. Take a long, casual stroll around the buffet table to glance at each dish and decide which one makes the priority list. Think of yourself as Donald Trump and the dishes as your White House staff. Anything that doesn’t tickle your fancy can be ignored. Many people think that it’s okay to avoid the roundabout, but these are also the very people who are seen crying in the end because they didn’t know the spread also had chicken lollipop.  

Bread Lightly: Don’t be a Basketcase

So you avoided the salads and soups to directly attack the main dishes, but now you’re drowning in a sea of gravy. With the sloshing mess on your plate, you might want to recruit some Swachch Bharat karyakartas in the form of some naans, kulchas, or parathas. This is a trap to keep you from your real goal – more kebabs. Avoid the breads with the same diligence that Deepika Padukone avoids Katrina Kaif at Bollywood parties, and you should be ready to properly sample everything you wanted.

Size Doesn’t Matter: The Beauty of Small Portions

Remember, you are not Kumbhakarana, who would take not one, but fifteen of the same paneer tikkas you ate a few minutes ago. And while you could easily do that without being questioned, let’s not forget  that it’s unmannerly to pile up so much of a dish on your plate. Much like Kapil Sharma’s career, buffet dishes also suffer greatly from overexposure. In simpler terms – pace yourself, go steady, and take your time with each serving. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Even though the strategic guide to eating at a buffet is now in your hands, it won’t really matter after you lay eyes on the buffet spread, will it? The lure of unlimited food will be impossible to resist and you will let your inner glutton run wild. Regardless, I do truly hope you don’t forget to eat dessert before you leave. After all, every great story deserves a happy ending, and the dessert section is the closest you can get to one.