When booking a holiday to Cape Verde, my friends and I decided to take the plunge and go all-inclusive, enthusiastically signing up to the pleasure of a self-service buffet for all three meals a day. Despite being an African country, Cape Verde is not usually renowned for animal safaris but it soon became clear that this form of all-inclusive buffet dining would not only take you for a ride but also open your eyes to some of the beastliest animals of them all. First and foremost however, having driven 30 minutes across the desert island of Boa Vista to our resort, we spent most days questioning where all this food had come from. With literally nothing on the island, and feeling like characters in Lord of the Flies, we were certain we’d only have fish and fresh fruit but were delighted (and slightly baffled) to find ‘Fresh Italian Pasta’ and even Brussels sprouts a key feature on offer. How did it all get here we wondered? But that wasn’t all we were bemused by. Observing the other holidaymakers opened our eyes to buffet habits, the good, the bad and the ugly, and posed a more pressing question – where did all the creatures come from?
This is the group of people recognisable through their common belief in quantity over quality, regardless of whether the meal in front of them is Michelin star or McDonalds. They can easily be identified as the largest of all the animals, coming in pairs and shaped like pears too. They follow strict rules in that no meal is a missed meal and every meal has a minimum of three courses. It surprised us too but The Feeders taught us that yes, there is such a thing as a breakfast starter, main and dessert, and in fact fried egg, scrambled egg, boiled egg and omlettes can all sit happily together on one plate at any one time. Whether they’re just acting economically and getting their money’s worth, it will never be known, but one thing we can be certain of is that in the eyes of The Feeder, there is no such thing as over-indulgence.
The Brits Abroad:
Male: Beige shorts (full leg zipped off and stored in rucksack), a faded Hard Rock Café t-shirt and a pair of used-to-be-white-turned-yellow Adidas’. Female: Denim shorts (bottom turned up), white vest, clear bra strap and pink flip-flops with slight wedge. The abundance of said animal is high and difficult to miss. Can also be spotted feeding on roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, their offspring with chicken nuggets and chips. They’ve flown 3000 miles across the globe, have patiently sat out the 6 hour flight, but upon arrival, the fear of a culture-shock is all too much to handle. Rather than immerse themselves in the local cuisine, they stick well within their comfort zones and routinely decorate their plates in meat, a carb and two veg. And ketchup, it wouldn’t be a holiday without ketchup.
The Worst Nightmare:
We’d all like to think that this animal is now extinct but sadly not. Picking up and returning each and every croissant before picking up the initial one, these animals are fearless when it comes to buffet dining. No tongs, no problem; The Worst Nightmare will use hands, and probably nibble his food on his way round. Its highly likely that there will be at least one Worst Nightmare roaming during your mealtime so its worth making sure you don’t choose the cheese slice on top, dig a little deeper to ensure yours doesn’t come with a sprinkling of germs. If you do spot the culprit on your way round, as the most dangerous of them all, it’s worth keeping your distance and whatever you do, never follow their tracks.
The Love Birds:
The Love Birds will spend more time looking into each other’s eyes than paying attention to the food. Only when they reach to feed their significant other a miniature square of cheesecake do they look down at their plates and observe what’s on offer. Mr Love Bird will usually go out on the hunt alone, carrying two plates, and bringing his kill back to Mrs Love Bird. You wonder how she trusts him to choose for her, especially with all the prey on offer, but she does because they’re a couple so he knows everything she likes, right? Cape Verde seemed to have a profound population of Love Birds and we can only be glad they were eating the food at the dinner and not each others faces as previously seen in the pool. This zoo probably needs a ‘No Petting
the Animals’ sign. Not bitter I swear.
These are the people that will travel to the other side of the world but choose to sit in silence over dinner, or better yet, exploit the buffet system for all it’s worth and make sure they’re always up roaming while their significant other is sat eating. They may pick up food en route, they may just be having a wonder, and some may even choose to eat on their way round rather than at the table. They consider the three course system amateur, instead numbers of plates gone through can reach double digits because 12 small plates means 12 opportunities to get up from the table and away from your accompanying holidaymaker. When the end of the holiday is nigh and conversation has run dry (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it), The Anti-Social will use the self service system to avoid awkward silence, but when the whole party accidentally find themselves around the table together, there’s always the quality of the wine to talk about.
We were lucky enough to see all of the Big 5 on the Cape Verde Buffet Safari but it wouldn’t be right to ignore the the abundance of normal animals too. Normal, A.K.A. Doing-It-Right A.K.A. Buffet Masters are those who use this style of eating as an opportunity to lose all style in eating all together. Excessive food is slayed, no meal is finished without a side order of regret and as a Buffet Master myself, I’ll admit on behalf of my species – one does not simply come back from lunch without a napkin-wrapped afternoon snack.
Pictures are not my own.