May 3, 2004 12:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Churrascaria Plataforma in NYC in a couple of weeks, an all-you-can-eat Brazilian restaurant that encourages gastronomic excess. What are strategies I can employ to help me consume more food than a person should reasonably eat in a single sitting? (Time isn't a factor, I don't think--it's a fixed-price menu, and I believe you can stay as long as you like.) And is there any Brazilian cuisine that I should try while I'm there?
posted by Prospero to Food & Drink (36 answers total)
Speed is of utmost importance. Don't think that you can pace yourself, that you can eat more if you give your stomach time to process already-eaten food. No, instead, ram as much food down as quickly as possible, before your stomach can send full signals to your brain. Go, go, man!

Oh, and be sure to have a Caipirinha or two.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:44 PM on May 3, 2004

The Romans had a method...

You'll need to bring your own feather, of course.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:57 PM on May 3, 2004

mmm brazillian meats on sticks. there is a place like that in albuquerque (tucano's, i believe) and it is so, so good. no real gluttony advice, but make sure to try everything at least once. and if they have brown sugar glazed pineapple, scarf that shit up. yummmm.
posted by sugarfish at 12:57 PM on May 3, 2004

Try to have a large breakfast and lunch to stretch your stomach in preparation.
posted by btwillig at 1:16 PM on May 3, 2004

"A true friend's work is never done."

posted by Stoatfarm at 1:17 PM on May 3, 2004

I love it:
AskMetaFilter: You'll need to bring your own feather
AskMetaFilter: scarf that shit up
AskMetaFilter: stretch your stomach in preparation
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:29 PM on May 3, 2004

What I do, is have a large lunch the day before, so that it will stretch my stomach out, and will, umm, leave by dinner time the next day. Small maintenance meals during D-Day makes sure that I am not famished. And watch fluid intake...water, water, water! Soft drinks will make you feel bloated, and water will clean your system and your palette.
posted by plemeljr at 1:39 PM on May 3, 2004

Try to have a large breakfast and lunch to stretch your stomach in preparation.

I disagree -- I'd say fast beforehand, so that you work up the maximum possible appetite. And don't waste time and stomach capacity on carbohydrates and other frippery; you're there for meat. I just wish I still had the appetite for those places. Last time I ate feijoada, I almost got sick afterwards. Sigh.

And MrMoonPie is oh so right about the caipirinhas.
posted by languagehat at 1:45 PM on May 3, 2004

Hmm, that place looks pretty good. How much do you have to pay to get in?
posted by rorycberger at 1:52 PM on May 3, 2004

argh, nm...i found it
posted by rorycberger at 1:53 PM on May 3, 2004

I disagree -- I'd say fast beforehand, so that you work up the maximum possible appetite.

I don't know, maybe a large breakfast and a large lunch is overkill but I find when I skip breakfast I'm not nearly as hungry later in the day as when I do have breakfast.
posted by btwillig at 2:28 PM on May 3, 2004

Don't fast beforehand and don't eat lots (too soon) beforehand. Eat a lot the night before and during the day nibble on carrots & such.

A friend of mine claims that deep, held breaths while you're eating will help you pack more in—the idea is that your diaphragm will press down on your stomach, compacting what's already there. Sounds kind of implausible to me but you may as well give it a shot.

MrMoonPie & languagehat are right about the caipirinhas but Mr.'s wrong about eating really fast. For one thing, you'll enjoy it more if you take more time. If the place you're going has beef ribs like Fogo de Chao does, you will want to savor them. And if you can take as long as you like, a little while sitting around pecking at some very light veggies could give you a second wind.
posted by kenko at 2:58 PM on May 3, 2004

kenko, I believe you've missed the point -- we're talking about quantity, not quality, about packing in the meat, not about enjoying the meal.

You can enjoy a meal just about anywhere; in my experience, churrascarias are about, to use Prospero's terminology, "gastronomic excess," about "consum[ing] more food than a person should reasonably eat in a single sitting." Stay focused, man!
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:10 PM on May 3, 2004

Let us know how it is--i've been wanting to go there for a while.
posted by amberglow at 3:17 PM on May 3, 2004

I've been to Green Field (it's second only to Plataforma in a Google search). It was a fun place to have a group dinner, but the emphasis did, indeed, seem to be on mass consumption. I'd go back, but not by myself nor with only MrsMoonPie.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2004

er... I've heard marijuana is good for the appetite, too.
posted by btwillig at 4:01 PM on May 3, 2004

wow that sounds good !
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:22 PM on May 3, 2004

Oh. My. God. I couldn't comprehend the point of this kind of planned gluttony until I clicked on the link and read about the main course... and actually had to wipe the drool off my keyboard. Jeez, I know exactly where I'm going the next time I visit NYC. Can we get a follow-up report on the success of your stomach-preparation method and the deliciousness of the mmmmmeat itself?
posted by scody at 4:35 PM on May 3, 2004

i demand a follow up too !
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:55 PM on May 3, 2004

Well hydrated for a couple days ahead of time.
Vitamin C or magnesium to bowel tolerance (loose stools then stop) to clear things out.
Digestive enzymes just before the meal to help breakdown the food so you're more comfortable the days following.
posted by Feisty at 5:26 PM on May 3, 2004

I was going to post this many hours ago but thought it too obvious.

Stuff your goddam maw full as you can, then when you think you're gonna puke right there at the table, go to the bathroom and let it out. (make sure you wipe your mouth and the sweat off your brow) Return to the table and become awesome.

That's not cheating is it? By far the most massive meal I've ever eaten was at NYC's Texas Barbeque (aint got shit on no carolina) when I paid a mid meal trip to the mens room.

There was money on it.

PS if youre not used to vomiting on command, you might want to practice before hand.
posted by headless at 6:21 PM on May 3, 2004

okay, now that I post, I understand PinkStainlessTail's advice... doh
posted by headless at 6:26 PM on May 3, 2004

I thought I remembered reading stories on competitive eating that backed up the stomach stretching advice, but according to Fox News, the serious stretching should be done a few days before the big meal.
posted by monkeyman at 7:31 PM on May 3, 2004

Response by poster: Once again, AskMe has come through with its usual excellent advice--bless you all. Clearly, the question is not one with a single best answer, so I can't yet say which stomach-stretching strategy I'll use--I'll have to think about it.

Oh. My. God. I couldn't comprehend the point of this kind of planned gluttony until I clicked on the link and read about the main course... and actually had to wipe the drool off my keyboard.

The reason this excursion came about is because I described this restaurant over the phone last weekend to a college friend who lives in Florida. He's making a weekend flight up to NYC for the sole purpose of eating there (and he hasn't taken a vacation in over a year, IIRC).

amberglow, scody, sgt. serenity: I'll be sure to post a follow-up after I go, in a couple of weeks.
posted by Prospero at 7:38 PM on May 3, 2004

I saw an interview with a jalapeno-eating champion who would do the stomach-stretching thing by eating 5 lbs of grapes the night before a contest. That's pretty hardcore, though.

I wonder if they'll give you a doggy bag...
posted by Hypharse at 10:50 PM on May 3, 2004

Drunk and bike-touringly hungry in Edinburgh, I once used my Yoga Powers so I could cram more all-you-can eat indian in. It worked (well), but I received immediate and clear karmic punishment for this lurch toward the darkside - so I will not reveal my secrets for your own well-being.
posted by freebird at 12:43 AM on May 4, 2004

MrMoonPie: I'm not missing the point. I've been to a churrascaria before. I ate more food than a person should reasonably eat in a single sitting. I'm not saying he should take five minutes for each bite. But if he just wanted to cram his gullet full of meat, it'd be just as easy and a lot cheaper to get an imperial arseload of ground beef at the supermarket, saute it, and shovel it in.

The meat at these places tends to be pretty damn good, you know. No point in eating in quantity if you don't notice the quality.
posted by kenko at 8:48 AM on May 4, 2004 imperial arseload of sauted, shoveled ground beef.....
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:19 AM on May 4, 2004

Perhaps we should plan a Meta-meetup at this place. If it's all that, I might be convinced to fly on in! :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 12:01 PM on May 4, 2004

Imagine that you are Homer Simpson let loose in the Duff brewery, except that the Duff suddenly metamorphoses into.... MEAT!
posted by zaelic at 3:12 PM on May 4, 2004

Response by poster: How I prepared before the meal

I took the aggregate of the advice presented in the thread and within its associated links, and came up with a training regimen for the days preceding the meal.

Three days beforehand, I went to an Indian buffet for dinner and ate as much as possible.
Two days beforehand, I ate little or nothing--a small breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
One day beforehand, I ate a small breakfast and lunch, and then went to a Mexican restaurant where I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore.
On the day of the meal, I ate a very small breakfast (a Special K breakfast bar--90 calories) and a very small lunch (a Lean Cuisine Chicken Marsala meal--120 calories). So when I showed up I actually wasn’t all that hungry, and wondered if I’d overeaten the night before. Fortunately, I hadn’t overeaten, and the eating schedule described above seems to have been remarkably effective at increasing my, um, capacity.

The meal

Churrascaria Plataforma is a pretty swank place, with a fixed price menu (drinks and dessert are extra). There’s an extensive salad bar (including greens, breads, cheeses, fruits, pasta, and sushi) and, were I not there for meat, I could easily have gotten my money’s worth off of it alone. I didn’t have much off of it, though, so I can’t describe it in any real detail. What I did have from it was excellent, though.

Each place setting has a coaster that’s red on one side and green on the other--when you’re ready to be served, you turn the coaster over to the green side, and waiters start to bring you food. There was an initial wave of side dishes--green beans, fried bananas, cauliflower, rice, and mashed potatoes. Then came the main course.

During this period, a waiter approached our table every two minutes or so, on average--this time lengthened to every three minutes once the pace got busy. Most of the waiters carried enormous sword-like knives, on which were skewered various kinds of meats: they’d ask us if we wanted what was on offer, and if we indicated that we did, then they’d slice a piece off and place it on our plates.
Over the course of the evening I consumed:

--pork sausage
--pork loin
--pork ribs
--some excellent pieces of baked chicken: they were legs with the lower, less meaty part of the bone removed
--pieces of turkey, wrapped in bacon
--steak tenderloin, also wrapped in bacon
--flank steak
--top sirloin
--beef ribs
--prime rib
--and what was for me the highlight, a tenderly cooked salmon accompanied by a sort of lemony-buttery “special fruit sauce.”

Let me say here that even the least of these cuts was some of the best meat I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant. The emphasis of the place is on beef, and its doneness tended toward rare (though you could request the more well-done section of whatever hunk of meat the waiter was carrying around). There’s a nice condiment for the beef as well--a “yucca flour,” which you sprinkle over the meat and follow up with a lightly seasoned salsa. And the food kept coming, until I couldn’t force myself to eat anything more--finally, after an hour and a half, a waiter traipsed up to our table proffering some lovely ribeye steaks, and when I had to pass on them he looked genuinely disappointed.
After drinks (the caipirinhas are wonderful, by the way), tax, and a deserved hefty tip, the bill was pretty steep ($70/person, which is usually what I spend on two weeks’ worth of groceries). But it was worth it. I’m certain that the training regimen that I undertook beforehand was the principal contributor to my success (though it looks like it’s resulted in me gaining about three pounds).

As I left the restaurant, I passed a gentleman on his way in who must have weighed somewhere between 350 and 400 pounds. He has a smug smile on his face as he greeted the doorman, and he wore a rainbow-colored athletic headband, as if he were about to participate in a sports event.
posted by Prospero at 7:47 AM on May 17, 2004 [2 favorites]

Silly question maybe, but why did you want to eat so much? For the glory? Or was there some sort of financial reward?
posted by skylar at 8:19 AM on May 17, 2004

Very interesting, but you never mentioned what happened the next morning. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:20 AM on May 17, 2004

Response by poster: [...]why did you want to eat so much?

The food at this restaurant is unbelievably good, and there's such a variety that one would regret not being able to try everything on offer. I don't do this sort of thing as a habit, though.

you never mentioned what happened the next morning.

Actually, I was perfectly fine the next morning (though I skipped breakfast and lunch).

Oh--I forgot to mention that drinking lots of water throughout to stay hydrated was also key, and may have been the reason I didn't have any digestive trouble afterward. (I'll just say that things didn't turn out so well for others involved, and leave it at that.)
posted by Prospero at 8:29 AM on May 17, 2004

In a remote, insignificant and impotent way, I am appalled.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:27 AM on May 17, 2004

Cool. I'll have to try it out.

There's a cool Ayur Vehda restaurant on Amsterdam in the 90s somewhere that's all you can eat...but it's vegan, and a really laid back atmostphere that isn't really conducive to bingeing.
posted by bingo at 5:04 PM on May 17, 2004

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