We’ve all done it – over-indulged at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Anything that is all-inclusive is a challenge for calorie counting and cholesterol management. As my northern kin would say “your eyes are bigger than your belly”.
On a recent holiday to Cyprus we had a buffet for all meals and it could have been a health car crash. Don’t give me the sanctimonious “no-one is forcing you line…” because eating and drinking is part of the holiday experience. Part one of the strategy must be to survey the whole buffet before deciding. Breakfast is usually divided between the English, the Continental and then the rest. Almost always the best advice is to change your normal eating habits. That’s good advice anyway because why go abroad if you are just going to try the same old stuff? In Cyprus the bacon looked really fatty and flaccid. The sausages were horrendous canned frankfurter things – not good. The scrambled and boiled eggs were overcooked and dry. I have also noticed that the all-you-can-eat providers are canny in how they lay it out. The cheap stuff is at the start of the runs and the nicer, more expensive food is at the end. If you are going Chinese there will be lashings of rice at the start and the crispy duck is at the end. Have a good luck around before you start loading up.
There’s the second tip. Many things on the buffet will have been out for some time and so they are going to be past their best. Avoid the prawns! You are not going to get the steak cooked to perfection and hot fish is similarly doomed. Try and pick things which stand a chance of being good – stews, soups, pre-baked products, chicken, vegetarian things all have a better chance of making a nice plate.
My third tip is to remember it is all going to be there tomorrow too. There is no need to do the plate-balancing act. Try to carve a meal of what you like – with vegetables that actually accompany and with only one style of cuisine on a plate. Then you can either do the same again tomorrow night or try something totally different.
My final suggestion is to go for the local cuisine. The food will tend to be more seasonal and there is good reason why there are regional specialities – people know how to cook them well, they use good local ingredients and the cooks in the kitchen will take pride. On holidays in Europe there is almost always something representing the local cuisine. You may need to have meat on the bone. With a bit of luck it will be packed with unfamiliar flavour. In Spain recently we enjoyed some really good soups and some local chicken stews. In Cyprus we enjoyed the feta, really fresh goats cheese, flatbreads, honey and halloumi.