Dining in Sydney: The Seagull Diet


Dining in Sydney

All this traveling is having a large impact on my waistline. Especially in a place like Sydney where the food is delicious and the portions enormous. On my first day here, exhausted after the long flight but excited to have escaped winter, I sat in the sun at a simple sidewalk café and ordered the egg breakfast. It included: two eggs, two sausages, six links of bacon, sautéed mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and four pieces of grilled Halloumi cheese. I was sure I couldn’t eat even half of it. It turned out, I could. All of it.

Four days later, I could no longer deny I was in trouble. Meal after meal, I was consuming double my usual intake. And I had yet to set foot in the hotel’s gym.

Dining in Sydney

If I wanted to fit back into my skinny jeans, I had to do something. Self-control was clearly not an option. Not when I had in front of me a bowl of tender, buttery mussels, so fresh I could taste the sea. Or a plate of Kingfish crudo followed by grilled Barramundi, both Australian fish that I hadn’t tasted before and didn’t expect to have again any time soon. Full or not, I wasn’t going to leave a bite uneaten. It would be easier to skip an entire meal. Starting with lunch today.

Before it was 1 pm, I was sitting at an outdoor café in Sydney Harbor, sipping on a glass of Rose and waiting for my spinach salad with grilled chicken, figs, blue cheese and walnuts. It was a sunny summer day—doubly more delightful when it’s winter back home—and I needed a break from sightseeing. Surely, if I was going to have a drink, I had to have a bite. And what harm would a small salad do anyway?

Dining in Sydney

It soon became evident that the salad wasn’t that small at all and—surprise!—it was exceptionally good. As I ate, I watched the boats making their way under the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the seagulls flying back and forth, the water shimmering in the sunlight.

Halfway through the salad I was full. And so began the long and painful process of trying to stop eating. It was a losing battle as each “last bite” proved more delicious than the previous one.

Dining in Sydney

I’m not sure if I heard it or saw it first but, all of a sudden, there was a seagull in front of my face, suspended in the air like a helicopter, its feet pink and scabby at close range. I could hear its wings flapping in perfect stereo as it grabbed a piece of chicken off my plate. I screamed and threw my arms in the air, the knife flying out of my hand and crashing loudly somewhere behind me. There was silence. I stared at my plate, a third of a perfectly good salad still there but no longer edible. I looked at the stunned faces of my fellow diners and found my knife on the ground. Thankfully, I hadn’t hurt anyone. One by one, people began laughing and I joined in.

You know you’re in trouble, when it takes a seagull to keep you from overeating. I only wish I’d had some warning. That salad was great but surely not worth decapitating anyone for it.

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