I’m not a big eater, generally speaking. Sure, I enjoy the occasional sandwich or salad or slice of pizza, but I don’t go overboard with it. You won’t find me snout-deep in a bowl of soup or snarfing down a whole box of Oreos. I’m the very picture of appetitive restraint and mealtime moderation.
With one exception.
“Besides not sharing my unhealthy Asian appetites, my wife is also a little bitty tiny thing. She could live for a week on three grapes and a packet of Equal.”
Every man has his weakness, and my culinary Waterloo comes in the form of the fast-food Chinese restaurant buffet. Just typing the words drives my intestines into a tizzy, the memories of oily egg rolls and Szechuan sauces boiling up like… well, like Szechuan sauces and oily egg roll innards. It hurts — but it’s the good kind of hurt.
I can’t explain why Chinese buffets drive me into a full-on food-funneling frenzy. I don’t go so gaga at other all-you-can-eat eatery establishments. Endless pasta? Eh, all right. A bottomless bowl of ice cream? If I have to, I guess. Pizza-till-you-puke? Meh. I can puke it or leave it.
But drop me in front of a sterno-heated array of glistening wontons and chow mein noodles, and I go cuckoo like some Cantonese Cookie Monster. It’s all I can manage to deal with the host and stake out a table:
Host: Hello, sir. Welcome to the Happy Dragon. Would you like smoking or non-sm–
Me: ME WANT KUNG PAO CHICKEN!
Host: Ah, very good, sir. If I may just seat you.
Me: LOOK! CRAB RANGOON! MMMNNNGGGHHH!!!
Host: I see you’ve… found your own way to the buffet. If there’s nothing else–
Me: *chomp* *slurp* TEEEEEAAA! GREEEEEEEN TEEEEEAAA! *smack*
Host: Yes, sir. I’ll tell your server. Could you take your head out of the hot and sour soup, please?
Me: I HAVE MU SHU DOWN MY PANTS!
Host: *sigh* Jiang, bring a bib for table three. The roundeye jackass is back. Again.
Three hours and nine plates later, I find myself lying in a soy-soaked food coma, twitching and bloated and sweating MSG. I can’t eat a damned thing for the next three days, and I can’t even look at a bowl of fried rice for at least a week. But a few days after that, I’m ready to get right back on the hoisin horse and do it all again.
Of course, my wife doesn’t let me indulge all that often. And for her part, she barely indulges at all. We’ve been to Chinese buffets together up and down the eastern seaboard. Some of the cheaper ones were practically free, and yet she’s never gotten her money’s worth from a single one, if you ask me.
It’s not her fault, really. Besides not sharing my unhealthy Asian appetites, my wife is also a little bitty tiny thing. She could live for a week on three grapes and a packet of Equal. There’s no way she could pack twelve pounds of kung pao into that body; she’d have nowhere to put it. So I eat for two. Or three. Or a small village of sumo wrestlers. Whatever, it’s all good.
Now pass the damned chicken and stand back. It’s Tso time!Permalink | 1 Comment