Serious Eats

Ed Levine's Caloric Journey, Week 173: Don't Help Yourself to Seconds (They Don't Help)

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Refill or resist? [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Last night we went to a friend's house for dinner up here on Martha's Vineyard. Our friend Leah served a very simple and very tasty beef stew, along with a fine salad. We served ourselves buffet-style. I was ravenously hungry, having been too busy to eat lunch (I'll save that story for another post). I took a reasonably sized portion of stew and centered it on my plate. As usual, I was first on the buffet line, so I ended up finishing a few minutes before everyone else.

I looked longingly at the huge pot of stew. I looked away. I looked again. That stew was calling my name. "So tasty," it was whispering to me. "Stop," I said in response. "I'm on a caloric journey, and seconds, my tasty friend, don't help. Ever, unless you're talking about salad without dressing, or vegetables without sauce, or fruit salad.

So who won this battle of wills, the beef stew vs. me?

I did. Triumphantly, I managed to resist the siren call of a second helping of that beef stew.

What did I take away from this experience? Seconds are deadly, second only to buffets in their ability to adversely affect your caloric journey. If you believe in everything in moderation, as the late Julia Child once described how she ate, then seconds cannot be in your serious eating repertoire.

In this case Leah made it easier by serving an excellent salad right after the stew. Of course I did get tripped up when I served and scooped for everyone two delicious flavors of Jenni's Ice Cream from Columbus, Ohio, Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate. But that's also for another caloric journey post. Stay tuned.

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