posted by meowser
You know what the very ouchiest, bleckiest thing is about that doucheparade “study” we all heard about last week regarding fat slobs, er, patrons at Chinese buffets? You want to know the thing I hated most of all about it?
It made me crave Chinese buffet.
(puts paper bag on head, continues typing through eyeholes)
SRSLY. I hadn’t been to one in years, but just reading about it brought back memories of yellow egg drop soup and crispy fried noodles, like I used to have at this one buffet in north Orange County that wasn’t half toxic. And from there, the confluence of power of suggestion plus PMS led my Google-fingers to discover the Superking Buffet on 82nd Avenue, where I took my fat ass (and the rest of me) for today’s lunch. Or should I say, breakfast and lunch, because sheehowdy, if I’m gonna drop close to $10 for lunch including tea and tip, I’m gonna get my money’s worth.
Of course, it never occurred to these researchers — no doubt upper-crust types with flexible and high-paying careers — that inasfar as a fat person might eat more at a buffet than a thin person, that economics could have something to do with it. Fat people as a group don’t get paid as much as thin people, doncha know.
And guess what else? Although I’m not in this position now myself, in my prior experience most jobs that are low on the socioeconomic totem pole are also high in control of when the workforce gets to eat and how much time they get. Half an hour for lunch, including the time it takes to buy or nuke your food (after you’ve spent 10 minutes waiting for the microwave to free up), and that’s it, you clock in and out and if you’re a minute late you’re written up. Then maybe a little snack a few hours later on your break, if your break doesn’t get hosed by meetings and being slammed by customers and other busywork. If the Chinese buffet is where you take your lunch, or where you get dinner after a workday where you’ve hardly had time to gulp down anything substantial, damn skippy you’re going to eat your fill, if you’ve got the wattage God gave a lightbulb.
But anyway, I had the following goals when I went to Superking:
- Get myself to stop thinking about egg drop soup and fried noodles
- Eat enough so that I wouldn’t have to think about food for the next five hours
- Run down their whole goofball list of Chinese buffet “findings” from yaaaaay to zzzzzz, to see how it correlated with the experiences of An Actual Fat Person We’re Too Freaked We’ll Get Adenovirus From If We Stop And Talk To Them. Rawwwr.
Okay, a little traveling music please. (Preferably by Kenny G, since that’s probably what you’ll hear on the muzak at most buffets. Hey, when I was little, it was the Longines Symphonette doing “Somewhere My Love” at places like this, so get grateful.) We fatties are alleged by the researchers to do the following:
Sit at a table vs. a booth. I didn’t chose my own seat, the host chose it for me. He seated me at a booth. I’m a “smaller size of large” and the booth was pretty roomy, so I had no complaint. And next to me was a table full of skinny women. I’m sure that had more to do with the number in their party than their weight, but I’m also pretty sure that had I been a “larger size of large,” I’d have gotten assigned a table, and if not, I’d have asked for one. At least the researchers had this one right.
Face the buffet while eating, rather than have their side or back to it. Again, if you don’t choose your own seating — and did they make sure to survey only seat-yourself joints? — how can this possibly have any relevance? I suppose you could request seating closer to the buffet if you had some mobility issues, but that could be true for any size person. For what it’s worth, the buffet was to my side, and the way the seating was set up, there was really no direct view of the buffet in any case.
Begin serving themselves immediately instead of surveying the buffet. Those greedy fat slobs! They just start shoveling it in not caring WHAT they eat! Come on now. If you’ve never been to that particular buffet before, of course you’re going to look and see what they have and where it is. I was looking for egg drop soup first, and I found it, and yes, crispy noodles too (which are surprisingly hard to come by in non-buffet Chinese places on the West Coast), but once I had that, naturally I wanted to know about all the stuff they had. It was a pretty impressive selection, actually. They even had a few sushi rolls. (Don’t bother with the potstickers if you ever go there, they have questionable looking and tasting mystery meat filling. Possibly made from Alpo. But everything else I had was pretty good.)
Conversely, if you’re familiar with the place, and you know that kung pao chicken is in bin 2, slot B, facing the south window, and they’ve never ever ever moved it in the five years you’ve been eating there, why the hell would you need to look around? Remember what I said earlier about time crunch also. If you’re due back to work afterwards — and lots of us fatasses work at night, too! — you’re not going to take a leisurely stroll through the place, the point is to get yourself fed and out the door before you get dinged. Today was my day off, though, and I had time to take a good look, so I did.
Pick up a larger plate vs. a smaller one. Not relevant in this particular establishment, either. They had ONE size of plate, a large one. Which is fine with me. I don’t need my eggroll (they had East Coast-style egg rolls too, also danged near impossible to find out here) on top of my broccoli chicken on top of my braised tofu on top of my avocado sushi on top of my rice on top of my sesame balls. I like SOME flavor and texture differentiation when I eat, thank you, even if it’s all gonna get mixed up eventually.
Use a fork instead of chopsticks. This one cracked my shit right up. I actually learned how to use chopsticks when I was 8 years old, from a Bobbsey Twins book of all things, in which Flossie and Freddie’s parents took them to Chinatown. (Anyone else remember them, or am I the only alter cocker around here?) When I see chopsticks available in a restaurant, I almost always use them.
But oddly enough, this place didn’t seem to have them, on the tables or anywhere else. Everyone was eating with a fork here. Thin people, fat people, everyone — even the Chinese people. What the poop was the point here? People who use chopsticks are more “cultured”? People who use chopsticks eat less? People who use chopsticks are thinner? Sorry, but I’ve eaten meals with chopsticks and without them, and what affects how much I eat is — guess what — how hungry I am, not what utensils I use. And that was true way before I ever gained my medication weight. Whiffage.
Put their napkin on the table or tucked into their shirt vs. on their lap. Okay, it had to be men who thought this one up. If I miss my mouth with my uncultured utensils, where do you think my grub’s going to wind up first — in my 38F cleavage, or on my lap? Also, if you have a big butt — and again, it’s women who more often do — your lap is probably going to slant some downwards. I’ve had to pick up dropped napkins 20 times a meal sometimes, often rooting under the table and crawling between my seatmate’s legs to do so. And why? So I can be “proper”? Screw 8000% of that. What’s “proper” about groping someone’s shoes trying to get to your napkin? (C. might enjoy that, but I’m not so sure about anyone else.)
So more often I’ll either do the “bib” thing, which I know makes me look like a giant 3-year-old, or if I’ve got a long scarf or some type of long necklace, I might wind the napkin up in that. On this particular occasion, though, I was seated so close to the table that it would have been a challenge to get food into my lap even if I was trying to, so the napkin stayed right where it was, and I didn’t need it until I was finished.
Leave less food leftover on their plate. There were signs posted all over the buffet saying (paraphrasing), “Please only take what you can eat. Please do not leave food over. If you leave too much over, we reserve the right to charge you extra.” This is not the first buffet I’ve ever been to where I’ve seen a sign like this. Who the heck wants to be charged extra for eating less? Certainly not me, Ms. Breakfast-and-Lunch — I’m eating what I take, unless I just can’t (see note above on potstickers). Munny, bitchez!
Chew fewer times per bite. Gee, if I’d known people were watching, I’d have chewed more. In fact, that will probably be one of my principal regrets when I’m on my deathbed, breathing my last from some ailment only fatasses ever get (which is pretty much all of them, right?) — “I’m sorry I didn’t chew each bite more. Maybe then I could have lived forever.”
Okay, being a New York egg-roll-loving wiseass aside, I have this little problem when it comes to the endless masticating I’m expected to do which will allegedly fill me up with less food: I have a gag reflex that could send a watermelon into space. You can’t imagine the torture of dental x-rays for me. TMI time: I’ve actually hurled on the table when I’ve chewed my food more times than my gag reflex will allow me. In public. I will NEVER do that again. (And I haven’t in close to a decade.) Believe me, I’d be all in favor of filling myself up with less if I could swing it; imagine the money I’d save when I wasn’t at a frigging buffet. But anyone who tries to make me chew more than I know I can tolerate? Can bite me 100 times. And then bite me again. A hundred times.
Says the Livescience article which disseminates the findings of this study:
But like the proverbial chicken and egg, [Brian] Wansink and his colleagues don’t know which comes first: a person’s behavior, or their weight. As Wansink put it: “Is that what made them thin, or is that what thin people do?”
How about no? Just plain no?