Wednesday, March 04, 2009

dessert meals

One of my usual Laura-out-of-town traditions has fallen by the wayside recently. I used to always begin my "bachelor week" with an extremely unhealthy meal involving edibles that are occasionally hard to quantify by food group: Spaghetti-O's, SweetTarts, fish sticks, hint o' crack, things like that. I don't do this anymore. Partially, I've started practicing my cooking skills while Laura's away. But mostly, I just don't feel well after I eat too much unhealthy food in one sitting. Another sign of aging, I guess. I mention this because dinner tonight consists of a Hagen-Dazs shake and some Toll House cookies from our closest neighbor in the mall, but it's a special occasion: I feel like a treat, and I found out I'm working a 12-hour day to fill in for someone who called in sick. So this is a combination comfort food and splurge meal of the week.

But this is far from the worst I've ever eaten. My record bad-for-you meal came years ago, when I was working in the scene shop of a summer stock theater. The scenery crew decided to splurge and go to Ponderosa Steakhouse for their all-you-can-eat everything buffet; ten bucks got you a bad steak, plus unlimited access to their pasta, soup, side-dish, salad, potato, and dessert bars. Or, you could skip the steak and just get the all-you-can-eat everything for six dollars. On our way in, I asked the cashier how much it would cost for just the dessert bar. He said nobody had ever asked him that before, so he didn't know; he guessed a dollar, since there were six bars, and it was six bucks for all of them. A dollar! For all-you-can-eat dessert! We thought this was such a great deal, we all did it. Lunch consisted of bowls of chocolate chips with whipped cream and hot fudge. Tureens of ice cream with crumbled Oreo cookies and peanut topping. Brownies with ice cream and strawberry sauce. I suspect we tried every possible combination of everything on the dessert bar. And we felt great, for about an hour. When the inevitable sugar crash hit, it hit like a sledgehammer. The tech director ended up closing the shop early, because we were all to wiped out to work.

And that's another thing I can't do anymore: all-you-can-eat restaurants. When I was in college, I'd go to Duff's with a few friends, and the place would actively lose money until we left. I'd fill a plate, polish it off, and go back for seconds. And thirds. And fourths and fifths and sixths. We'd stay for hours, talking and eating constantly, and we'd generally leave when we were bored rather than full. I can't do this anymore. The last time I went to a stuff-yourself-silly buffet, I had a plateful of food and one dessert, and I was done. I've turned into such a lightweight that when Laura and I go to Weber Grill, we'll typically get a burger and fries and split it. This is probably a good thing; I don't think I could afford to eat like I did when I was twenty....

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