For those of you who still keep some spending money on your hands, I encourage you to greet the gradually warming weather and treat yourself to a Sunday lunch buffet tomorrow at a local eatery. I know, this kind of goes against the 'live off the land' mentality we vagrants strive to hard to foster, but it's nice to get a taste of the carpet-walker's life from time to time.
Tomorrow there will be thirteen of us vagrants running a train on a buffet in Rockford. We've saved up all month long, and are really going to let loose!
Here are some tips we've compiled in planning the event:
1.)Be selective! Choose the right buffet if there are several within walking distance. Keep an eye on price and food offered. One of the most important things to remember when spending hard-earned monies on a buffet is CALORIE INTAKE. You need to use the precious time spent at the buffet to engorge yourself on as many calorie-heavy foods as possible. We'll get to that more in a minute. But the point is, do your research. There is a big difference in selection at a Sunday-only Chinese buffet than a 7-day establishment. American buffets often provide a heavy selection, but tend to be a few dollars more. Avoid Mexican, Indian and Greek buffets altogether if you are looking to really load up on calories. Also, try to find a buffet where you can get your own drinks (limited wait staff) to help avoid raising flags as to 'staying too long'.
2.)Sit and stay! Proprietors will be looking to move you along as fast as they can (the longer you stay, the more it costs them), but there are strategies that can be used to extend your stay. Be wary of establishments that shoo out diners between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and dinner. I once spent a full thirteen hours at a buffet before finally being escorted out.
3.)Go when it's busy! As stated in #2, many establishments really frown on diners staying for more than a few hours. Many "mom & pop" style places, where the owner is on site, will actually keep watch for people who look like they are looking to park there for the day. It's easier to keep a low profile if you go during a rush, and Sundays work especially well because they are usually filled with the 'after church' crowd for most of the morning into the late afternoon. Change tables every hour or so to avoid suspician on part of the wait staff.
4.)Load up on calories! While most of America is watching their waist-lines, us vagrants are coming out of a long winter and likely haven't had a square meal in a while. Paying $5 or $6 dollars for a buffet means we have to make the most of our money, and that means calorie-loading.
Here are some of my suggestions on that front:
* Pile on deep fat fried foods. Fried chicken, fried meats, french fries, chicken nuggets, et al. Don't dip it in ketchup...dip it in a calorie-rich slurry. I like to take mashed potatoes, gravy, sour cream (equal parts with the mashed potatoes), three or four butter packets, grated cheese from the salad bar, mac & cheese and ranch dressing. Mix the slurry up and dip your chicken nuggets, fried chicken and whatever else. Yum!
* Avoid vegetables. We vagrants eat more vegetables than the average American on a daily basis, due to their potability in cans. At the buffet, steer clear! Only hit the buffet table for dressings, mayonnaise-based salads (krab salad, tuna salad, etc) and cheeses.
* Slather. Find the most calorie-rich dressing (sour cream or ranch dressing usually works well, blue cheese dressing even better!) and douse everything in it. Sop up the empty plate with buns stuffed with butter packets.
* Go easy on the beverages. Sure, they add some sugar and calories to the mix, but a cup full of fried chicken skin and mac & cheese beats a cup of Fresca any day.
5.)Don't be bashful about take-outs! I know, I know, it's a social faux pas to take home a "doggie bag" from a buffet. Hey, I'll leave that up to you--but consider this: Anything left on my plate is going in the garbage anyway, and it breaks my heart to see all those calories go to such waste. Imagine how much they throw away over the course of a day, week, month, year! I think they can part with some stray items going to good use. Anyway, be coy about it. Fill up your bags, pockets, shirts, hats and so forth when no one is looking. We don't want to cause a scene. I like to fill my clothes with chicken skin...not only does it form-fit and pack a great caloric punch, but my clothes smell heavenly afterwards!
Remember, don't abuse the buffet--I make it a once-a-year, mid-March ritual. It takes a little away from the spirit of vagrancy, but when used sparingly it can give you a great pre-spring jolt!