Monday 22 March 2010

Eating Habits On Holiday And Other Strange Experiences for the latest on the "A Graceful Death" exhibition now in Birmingham until Sunday 28 March for my website to email me

Eating Habits on Holiday and Other Strange Experiences

There are no more strange experiences on this holiday than any other I expect. It is just that I have never been to Turkey before. It ıs simply a matter of getting used to things.

The Dining Room is Huge. It has to be, this hotel hosts 1000 (million) people and all of them are Starving. I am starving. My mother is starving. SAGA who is hosting my holiday, is starving. Downstairs there is a vast Hall where another hotel could easily be built, and in this Hall there are tables and chairs, of course, and then -there is the Display of Food.

As far as the eye can see there are silver tureens and hot plates of Food. There are silver platters with salads and vegetables and cauldrons of various Thick Creamy Yogurts. You stand in the middle of this wonderland of nosh and notice that just to your right is a Hot Dog and Burger Mountain. Next to it are Chips. Breathing fast and trying to remain grounded you turn to your left and see a Bread Bonanza with all the breads the hotel Bread Manager could fit into the Jumbo Jet he commissioned to bring the breads to the Hall. Sweating a little you notice that there are alcoves and small dimly lit recesses beyond the central Stuff, in which are creatively arranged Meats, Cheeses, Pastries, More Meats, Piles of Fresh Raw Vegetables and so it goes on. At the end, right at the end, is the Puddings Table. At the last count there were 40 different puddings from the (boring) fresh fruit to the Baclava Mountain, the Wall Of Pastry, the dozens and dozens of chocolate mousses, creme caramels, sweets, apple strudels and so on and so on. Really, and so on. It is practically endless.

Any resolve one has to be at least a little restrained breaks at breakfast. I have made it my business to sit open mouthed at the large plates the guests from all nations one can imagine, fill with food. There are some utterly yummy shapely ladies and very well nourished husbands and some very perky kiddies who go to the Dougnut Display and halve it. More magically appears on the display so that is a relief. So, having halved the Doughnut Display and carried plates of a hundred or so back to their table, each family member goes in a different direction (Dad - you go North and Get The Fried Eggs. Mother, you go South and Get The Cold Meats. Son, you go East and Get a Dozen Loaves of Bread and Daugher, you go West and Get The Pancakes, Pastries and Syrup) and meets up at the table where they then EAT everything.

We Brits watched this on our first morning. We saw Thin People, Fat People, Family People, Sıngle People, Mad Looking People, all sorts of people all going with a kind of Passion, a kind of Removal Of The Boundaries, to breakfast and diving in as if it were a mirage. Or that it may not be there tomorrow. We noted the groaning plates and tables, we saw the joy and anticipation of each unabashed Eater and saw it could be done. No one in England would know. We saw that it was good to go bonkers and get a trolly and load it with fried pastries and scrambled eggs etc. We saw those Diners leave the Food Hall and live. We saw them at the pool side and in the saunas after. All was good, and nothing happened to them other than their tummies started gurgling and their eyes glazed over as another mealtime approached.

The meals here are ongoing. There is 7am breakfast that slides joyfully and seamlessly into second breakfast, then elevenses and onwards to lunch which gathers steam around 4pm to magic into tea when (small panic) the barriers go across the doorway (but significantly the doors don`t close). The staff probably all go for their afternoon debriefıng from the Hotel Psychiatrıst and have a small meditate before the doors open again for Dinner. Dinner! By this time the Guests are ravenous and come in like Bargain Hunters at a closing down sale.

So. By the third morning it is normal for me to come into Breakfast with my stately and dignified mother and say at the first table "You go and get us a table and I will see you back at it soon". My mother looks at me and says "Go my Daughter. Remember what I have taught you. Move fast, use a sweeping action and make sure you have at least twelve plates. " We hug and the fire comes into our eyes and I don`t know whether I will see her again. But later when I am into my eighteenth fried banana fritter and boiled egg medley, I glance up to see a small and determined white haired lady being buffeted (excellent description) about by Guests and disappearing into the Fried Fish only to be seen a few seconds later in the Gooey Pastry Section. When she eventually joins me at the table this wonderful old lady had only got some brown bread and honey. I bet she ate it all in the throng.

We have met the most lovely couple called Bert and Pat. Bert and Pat can eat a fair bit and neither of them are in the slightest bit fat. We had a disco last night and both Bert who is 80 and has had 6 hips (must have a lot of legs says Alan when I tell him on the phone) and Pat (who is a pretty good mover) danced. And - so did my mother. She is a pretty good mover too.

It is coming up to dinner time. I feel I may be dribbling. There are two outcomes of all this eating.

  • One throws caution to the winds and with the cry You Only Live Once and Besides I Paid For It and dive in and become clinically obese.
  • One eats like there is no tomorrow but because it is impossible to try everything, and because there is so much of everything, one becomes depressed and seeks darkened rooms and finds one is making plans of the Dining Room and panning strategies to fit as much as possible in the limited time of one`s stay, and losing weight with the anxiety and becoming Thin and Withdrawn and Wierd. On the plane home one is weeping quietly and asking for more and more peanuts and dribbling horribly.

I shall go home to Alan like Princess Fiona in Shrek. I am Hungry Let Me Go....

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