free for all…

I am recovering from my gluttonous weekend of overeating. I’m suffering from indigestion, heart burn, and general grogginess. I think I have a food hangover, if that’s possible. I succumbed to all temptation, eating and drinking myself silly. I sampled every cheese, cookie, breadstick, and wine put in front of me. Like Thanksgiving, only two months early.

There is something about open bars and buffets that create a certain craziness. It encourages a very unattractive side of not only myself, but society in general. I am financially and physically capable of purchasing and preparing my own delicious food, but put in a “free for all” situation, I become one of the greedy masses.

On Friday night, I attended a Food and Film Festival with my husband. There was a flat entry fee to attend and then once inside, you had your choice of several food and beverage stations. As you waited in the long lines for oysters or martinis, waiters walked around with trays of fried goodies. They would get about 2 steps into the crowd and be bombarded with groups of people clearing their trays. I found myself making a mad dash and greedily grabbing the last dish of fried cheese curds. I paid good money to be here, I wanted my share! It was embarrassing.

During the films, they passed cucumber soda, fried Oreos and sugar pies down the aisles. It turns out there was plenty of food for everyone despite occasional fried cheese shortages. Skipping the ice cream served after the show would have been a good idea. But no, I had to have everything I was entitled to. Time to bust out the elastic waistband pants!

On Saturday, I met up with some girlfriends and went to the Chicago Gourmet Food and Wine Fair. Upon entry, everything inside is “free”, or more realistically, included in the price of the outrageous ticket. Hundreds of food, wine, and liquor tents awaiting our arrival with bite sized samples of everything. From pasta to pumpkin pie cheesecake, full glasses of reserve Cabernet and top shelf bourbon, the world was our oyster. Within minutes I had a Bloody Mary in hand and seafood gazpacho in my belly. Oh the decadence!

After several tastes of wine, we decided a more substantial food sampling would be a good idea and headed to the chef’s tent for a glimpse of Rick Bayless. About 10 minutes into my wait in the fish taco line, I witnessed a ridiculous display of inhumanity. Just as I approached the front of the line, a woman pushed her way through to the side of the table, snatched the last 2 tacos and RAN. The chef’s jaw dropped as he said “She did not just do that!” Oh yes she did. The line closed and we were sent away to wait in some other chef’s line. Don’t worry, I certainly didn’t go hungry. And of course I filled up my wine glass before I got into the new line.

What is it about free food? I’ve seen random leftover unidentified cake devoured at our office. Doesn’t anybody care where it came from? Anything put out on the table is hoarded immediately…crackers, donuts, sandwiches, even veggie trays. I’m not just talking about the poor young interns either. I’ve watched wealthy executives stash an extra bagel for the next day. Really, can’t you pony up $1.50 for a fresh one tomorrow? I could take out my whole office with arsenic laced cookies or ex-lax brownies if I was disgruntled. No questions asked.

Its time for society to go on a diet. And not just a regular old food diet, although with obesity rates that wouldn’t hurt anyone either, myself included. I think we need to go on a full-fledged temptation diet and learn some self-control. Just because something is free doesn’t mean you have to eat it! Put the plate down and step away from the buffet and I’ll try my best to resist the tray of homemade brownies in the office kitchen. Let’s all have a little more self respect and a little less hoarding greed.


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