To take advantage of such a super-deal was what we had in mind when we crossed the state border from Tennessee and entered Mississippi. That's a lot of double vowels and consonants, and no wonder we felt peckish. In my memory, Hurrah's had the best all-you-can-eat last time we shopped around, so we made a beeline straight to one in Tunica. A vast estate next to the Mississippi River with a huge hangar of a casino sported tacky turrets and tromp-l'oeil paintings. But we were not there to judge the developers' aesthetic sense.
Since it was the Deep South, the catering deal in Tunica was awarded to Paula Dean, a middle-age Southern belle whose masterpieces like cheesed grits (with melted processed "cheddar") have been clogging Americans' arteries for last few decades.
Despite the price was a pleasant knock-off of the usual 20-something, 18 bucks, the quality of the food itself was rather appalling. A sugar, salt and saturated fat extravaganza, even those lovely and easy-to-make guilty pleasures like barbecue chicken were hopelessly ruined. Instead, you were presented dishevelled piles of extremely fat fried thighs and legs, generously doused with BBQ sauce. Paula, fake smoke flavour does not make chicken barbecued, you must know that, do you?
The prime cut steak that is normally the pièce de resistance of all Americans buffets but Paula Dean's roast beef looked and tasted like pork, with huge slabs of fat - nothing like the lovely marble of tallow of a rib-eye steak, but mighty porcine dollops of fat. But what do you expect from cattle raised in factory farms on artificial fodder, growth hormones and antibiotics? It was so gross I could not continue.
The seafood corner sported miniscule oysters baked into Sakhara-like dryness with cheese and what appeared to be copious amounts of salt. The rest was flour-based fish stews in which the fish was smothered in flour-based sauce an, you guessed, liberal quantities of salt.
Well, I know classic Southern menu may not exactly the epitome of dietarily enlightened fare but Ms. Dean took it to an extreme with processed cheese with grits oozing butter. I was surprised not to see deep-fried Oreos in the sugar-and-saturated-fat desserts section.
Coincidentally, next day on the plane I had a glance at the headlines of a newspaper that someone was reading and on the front page I saw that Paula Dean was sick and hiding her disease. I sure wish her a soon recovery but, perhaps, she should take a sign and start reforming her own diet, which if to judge by what she serves others, must be horrendously unwholesome.
Paula Deen's Buffet
13615 Old Highway 61 North
Tunica Resorts, MS 38664
Con's: Sigarette smoke from the casino. Grade F ingredients cooked into pulp.
In a nutshell: A lovely heart-clogging trough for undiscerning gluttons.