The trouble with ‘all you can eat’ deals

Published: August 28, 2010

The amount of food consumed in iftar deal is sick

They got it wrong again.

This happens every Ramazan. Every upscale eating place in Pakistan starts advertising their “all you can eat” offers. I think it’s a poor choice of words. It should be “All you want to eat”.

Brings back memories of when we used to say stuff like “Teacher, can I go to drink water?” and they would scold us and tell us that it should be “May I go to drink water?” I can do a lot of things. Like leap off a building, for example. But the things I can do and the things I want to do are not the same things.

I can eat 10 slices of pizza. But I don’t want to. Not even eight. I’m good with four, thank you ver much.

All-you-can-eat affairs have become proving grounds for Pakistanis of all ages. It’s a race against the clock (and the bladder) to devour as much food as possible. It stopped being a pleasurable experience a long time ago. Now it’s just a sick, consumerist challenge that warps our sense of value.

‘Gotta make it count,’ we think to ourselves. Have to extract as much value out of this deal as we can. Nevermind utility, we’re out to get even! Every time we go to one of these places, we’re doing all these mental calculations on how much we should eat to have made it a good ‘deal’ when we’re stepping out. It’s man against math out here. Irrational as it may seem, we’re so obsessed with this sort of behaviour that we’ll continue eating serving after serving  just so that we have the mental satisfaction of knowing that we’ve had more food than we paid for.

Unfortunately, with the rising prices, it seems unlikely that we’ll do that much damage. I’m completely full about 6 minutes after iftar, no matter what I’m munching on. At Rs600 per head at your run-of-the-mill all-you-can-eat places, that’s a Rs100 a minute worth of food. At that price, the pizza better be damn good. But it’s not.

I’ve seen people scrape the layers off a pizza and discard the crusts because that seems to be a waste of stomach space. Hey, if you paid Rs600 just to eat cheese, you could’ve just bought a big bar from the superstore and saved yourself the money and the trouble.


Umair Kazi

A strategist who blogs at

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.