This section is from the book "Fletcherism. What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty", by Horace Fletcher. Also available from Amazon: Fletcherism, What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty.
While it is true that "Variety is the spice of life," and that an appetising variety of plain food is more tempting than a monotony of the most highly-spiced dishes, every tendency of modern menus is a menace to health, and the only way to counteract the menace is to be especially careful in observing the rules of Epicurean Economy.
If the soup is particularly good, there is a temptation to go on and completely satisfy the appetite on it. It requires the restraint of civilized suppression to keep from following the example of Oliver Twist, calling for more and more till the supply or appetite is exhausted.
Then comes the fish: Who can resist accepting a generous helping of this course, served in any one of the dozens of styles that are familiar to the patrons of French restaurants? And how hard it is to refrain from cleaning up the plate in a hurry so that none of it will be whisked away by the waiter to make room for course number three.
Nothing has been said of the Hors d'oeuvres of the French menu, or the Ris Tavel of the Dutch East Indian gorge, or the Smoer Gose of a Scandinavian "Spread." A fairly ravenous person, given time enough, and with no one looking, can be counted on to make a "square meal" on these "appetizers"alone before the soup is announced.
Mention of the "Roast" the "En-trees," the "Legumes" the "Dessert," and a bewildering variety of cheeses to be followed by fruit, nuts and raisins, with several different wines, cordials, coffee, and cigars or cigarettes on the side. Even mention of them is likely to cause psychic indigestion.
If one goes to a restaurant with a quarto, gilt-top appetite, and scans one of the monster, modern, mixed menus for a suggestion of what he shall order, he will, undoubtedly, see five or six items that will appeal to his imagination as "just the thing"; and if the cost is no special reason for restraint, he will put down on his order list twice or three times as much as he can possibly eat in order to be as many kinds of a fam dool as he can be at the moment.
This is not an unreasonable or fantastic illustration of the menace of a multiple menu and a colossal appetite in convenient conjunction. It is said that an amorous lover has neither conscience nor discretion. This may sometimes be the case; but it is always a sure betting proposition that an opulent, ravenously-hungry person will measure off with his eager eyes much more than his tummy can possibly hold.
Then follows the inclination of the average human being to "get his money's worth," even if he "must die for it." This is not alone a human characteristic exaggerated in sumptuously-civilized communities, but it is an animal trait as well. If a racehorse is turned out in a field of clover that stands as high as his neck, he will very likely eat himself to death. Likewise, if a little child, with the animal characteristics uppermost, is given a bag of sweets, he will be sure to want to put himself securely outside of the whole bag-full in the shortest time possible, so that he will make certain that no one will take it away from him.