Abroad and in a relationship with food: Empty plate syndrome

(Note: “Abroad and in a relationship with food” is a blog that tracks my romantic relationship with food as I study abroad in Parma, Italy. Because I will never love anything as much as I love food.)

Today, I am going to introduce you to some new medical terminology: empty plate syndrome.

Empty plate syndrome is the condition under which a person is entirely unable to stop eating until his or her plate is clean. For someone with empty plate syndrome, fullness does not factor into the decision of whether or not the meal is over. This person could be on the verge of physical explosion from overeating, but he or she will refuse to put down the fork until every last bite has been consumed.

Needless to say, I have a severe case of empty plate syndrome. When there is food in front of me, I turn into a culinary mathlete.

In Europe, empty plate syndrome actually serves me well. Unlike in America where restaurants give you about five times the logical serving size just for kicks, European restaurants actually take human portions into consideration when planning out their menus. Because of this, I’m typically able to lick my plate clean (and I mean that in a very literal sense) without gaining an extra sense of self-loathing.

In Prague, however, I found a place that temporarily cured me of my empty plate syndrome.

Just about anyone who has been abroad, is currently abroad or is planning to study abroad in Europe receives the following advice: visit Prague. For me, at least, I didn't really know what to do with this suggestion. Prague (and the entire Czech Republic, if we’re being honest) has never been on my radar. But, like most college students, when I realized that traveling to Prague meant I could take a photo in front of the picturesque John Lennon wall, I was sold.

It's debatable whether this is the most or least successful jumping picture of all time.

It's debatable whether this is the most or least successful jumping picture of all time.

As it turns out, Prague has more to offer than occasional photo ops. Everywhere you look — and I mean everywhere — there is something beautiful to see. Example:

View from the Dancing House, which you can go to the top of for free with the purchase of a drink. Sold.

View from the Dancing House, which you can climb for free with the purchase of a drink. Sold.

The cherry on top of Prague’s ample views is the food. For one thing, there are hot dog and sausage vendors all over the city that put Fenway Franks to shame (sorry Boston, you’re still my home).

For our first dinner, we all agreed that we wanted to eat close to our hostel — after a long day of touring the city, our main priority was getting food in our stomachs. We decided upon a semi-authentic looking restaurant across the street, Café Svatého Václava in Wenceslas Square. I can only call it “semi-authentic” because it had a large sign above the door that read “TYPICAL CZECH RESTAURANT,” i.e. “WE FEED TOURISTS AND ONLY TOURISTS.” Whatever, we were hungry.

After a long while perusing a hyper-translated menu that described details I never wanted to know about (pork knee, pork tongue, pork neck…), I landed upon a beef tenderloin dish that didn't overtly include any terrifying body parts. Enter this plate:

Beef tenderloin with lemon, cranberries and whipped cream, along with an assortment of dumplings. Some of which are filled with BACON.

Beef tenderloin with lemon, cranberries and whipped cream, along with an assortment of dumplings. Some of which are filled with BACON.

Looks simple, right? Nothing too intimidating, especially for a girl who is literally blogging about food on a weekly basis. Well, kids, there is a first time for everything, and at the end of the meal, my plate looked like this:

As it turns out, the limit does exist.

As it turns out, the limit does exist.

And I was stuffed. Everything was amazing, but I felt like if I ate another bite, I would have to go to the Czech hospital. I know what you're thinking: You claim to have empty plate syndrome and you literally just said that you could be on the verge of explosion and keep eating. This all seems like something you made up as an excuse to never stop eating but then one time you got full and you're making an unnecessarily big deal about it.

You make a good point.

Anyways, that is the story of how a semi-authentic and fully delicious restaurant in Prague temporarily cured me of my empty plate syndrome. Am I a hero? I really can't say, but yes.

All photos by Jenna LaConte / Gavel Media
 
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