There is a word in Tagalog that I became very familiar with growing up; sayang meaning, “what a waste” or “what a pity,” usually used in the context of finishing our food, or rather not finishing it. We were taught not to be wasteful and to always finish all the food on our place and not throw anything away that could still be eaten.

As I grew up this mindset somehow transformed, at least for me, into eating as much food as possible to get our “money’s worth” or event just eating copious amount of food for the heck of it. I don’t think I’m the only one who grew up this way or at least somehow made it to this way of thinking because it feels like our society is obsessed with All-You-Can-Eat. Perhaps it’s the implication of a challenge posed by the restaurant (or by friends) or the allure of potentially having a very high calorie-per-dollar ratio, but people fuckin love AYCE.

Nowadays though when I find myself at AYCE restaurant stuffing myself to the point where it hurts just to get my money’s worth, I am often inspired with moment of pain-induced self-reflection. Did I really stick-it to the Hometown Buffet by eating those 3 extra slices of lamp-heated pizzas? Is the owner of Meat Love KBBQ really gonna rethink their whole business model because we smugly ordered one extra plate of brisket after everyone said they are full? Maybe what’s sayang is eating may more than I need to be satisfied and more than can be physiologically absorbed by my body.

The answer to these queries remains to be seen; perhaps all these restaurants are actually in crippling debt and the end of AYCE is close at hand. But I guess we just gotta keep consuming as much as humanly possible until we know for sure.


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