Death … taxes … banquet chicken with green beans and a salad. Sorry, Ben Franklin … but there are three certainties in life.

You’ve been to this meal. Hundreds of people crammed into a round table with enough plates and silverware for a small army. The salad (usually with things that resemble weeds pulled from the yard) is pre-set, and the dessert is there too, sitting just north of your plate … mocking you. I do not fault the organizers, the facility, the planners … really anyone at all. I cannot imagine what it must be like to prepare a meal for that many people at the same time.

The issue I have is, once again, an internal demon. The salad is fine. I can eat the weeds with some balsamic sprinkled on top. But then, the only choices left are 1) eat it or 2) don’t eat it. I don’t get a menu and, with it, the ability to make sound selections. It’s only a series of binary reactions … eat or don’t eat. Rolls with dollops of butter … passed around the table. (That dessert is still mocking me. “One little bit pre-entree won’t hurt.”) They clear the salad, and a pregnant pause ensues … the entree isn’t here and yet the dessert continues to laugh.

Finally, a respite. The entree arrives. Chicken with squeaky green beans, all slathered in a sauce that is equally good and caloric … and a starch. Mashed potatoes, mac n cheese. Something I shouldn’t have. And still, the dessert seems to say, “Skip all that nonsense, and jump straight to me.” What to do. It’s all about will-power (or in my case, and extreme lack thereof.) I’ve learned a few tricks in the eleventy-four bazillion banquet meals I’ve attended.

  1. Eat the salad. It’ll start to fill you up, and is certainly the best option for you the entire meal.
  2. Skip the bread. 99 times out of 100, it will be okay, but it’s not going to be hot and soft and delicious. You’ll be disappointed and then angry that you wasted the calories.
  3. Entree time … eat the protein and the vegetable. Try to leave some of the starch for the staff to take away. Just don’t finish everything.
  4. Dessert. Yeah – it’s going to talk to you. A few options here
    1. Finish your entree and then literally cover it with your napkin. It can’t mock you if you don’t see it.
    2. Ask the server to take it away before you give in temptation.
    3. Eat 2 bites. ONLY 2 bites. That way, you can still satisfy the sweet tooth, but you’re not breaking the calorie bank in doing so.

How’d We Do Today?

  • Breakfast. Not sure why I even list the meal anymore.
  • Lunch. Banquet time. Yeah … roasted chicken, mac n cheese, green beans, salad, and a collection of brownies. I’ll admit that I had a 3rd bite, breaking the aforementioned rule. But I was still not all that bad.
  • Dinner. Grabbed a grilled chicken salad later in the day. Super lite dressing. Feeling pretty good about decisions so far.

Wednesday’s Beer

I didn’t get home from baseball practice until 9:00 … and still needed to eat dinner. So, it was a 1-beer night. I found this little gem hidden in the depths of the beer fridge. Unibroue (pronounced you-ni-brew; NOT as though someone has a single eyebrow) is one of the best, if not THE single best, brewery in Canada. Located just east of Montreal, they have long been producing some high-quality beers that are true to the Trappist traditions of Europe. And that’s completely my jam. Today, I enjoyed their dubbel, Maudité. It’s a little boozier tasting than some dubbels, but the flavors are absolutely on point. I don’t know why I tend to overlook Unibroue, because their beer is exactly the style that I love, and it’s pretty readily available. Shame on me. This will change.
And tomorrow ends the penultimate week in the #DrinkAndDropChallenge. About to enter the home stretch. Results will be coming soon!
Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington