Wednesday, June 25, 2014


It's summer, and for some, with the warm weather comes a reaffirmed need to be healthy, and more-importantly, bikini-ready. Between vegetarians, paleolithians, and pescetarians, it seems like denying yourself of certain foods is a new religion. But, if there's one thing I have faith in, it's food. And for my fellow beef-lievers, the all-you-can-eat buffet at Mandarin restaurant is our Mecca.

For those who aren't familiar with Mandarin, think of it as less of a Chinese restaurant and more of a "best-hits" of North American cuisine. In addition to the classic Chinese stir-fries, teryakied meats, and sweet and sour delicacies, there is sushi, a diverse salad bar, pizza, pasta, french fries, and every dessert imaginable—including both frozen yogurt and birthday cake-flavoured ice cream.

Tackling such a spread is nothing short of an art because without the right finesse, gorging at the Mandarin can quickly feel like your last supper. The pros come dressed for success, ready with elastic waistbands, loose fitting t-shirts and appetites to match. These buffeteers know that the rows on rows on rows of food require strategy. Loading up a plate with everything from noodles to pizza to salad with a topper of cake and sushi is just a recipe for disaster. Getting the all you can from an all-you-can-eat requires time, patiences, and the ability to pace yourself.

My family ranges from beginner buffetteers to seasoned pros and after loading up our plates—and loosening our belts—we all made it to the finish line: the fortune cookie. My cousin Priya's 90-year-old Dadi (grandma) cracked open her trophy and shared the inside slip. It read: "You will soon create a favourable impression on someone."

Priya: "Dadi, does this mean you'll be getting married again?"
Dadi: *grins cheekily* "Well, I do have many suitors!"

Lesson learned: In love and buffets, the pros are always ready for more.

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