Food is wonderful. I don’t know who created the concept of a buffet, but that person is a genius. The concept of creating a public forum, filling it with food, and letting people walk around with an empty stomach and an empty plate, is simply amazing.
I love buffets. Mainly because there is an assortment of food and I can eat whatever I want without worrying about tipping my scale too far north of 182 pounds, give or take a slice of pizza.
I’m not really a big fan of sit-down restaurants. The whole process is just slow. I walk into a restaurant with an empty stomach and eyes on the prize, so to speak. I don’t walk in and look forward to waiting 15 minutes before food is placed in front of me. That’s like icing the kicker in football. Sit-down restaurants are just a big tease. And when they have me walk by the kitchen on the way to my table, it’s like they are testing me to see if I’m going to duck into the kitchen. I’ve passed the test every time, but man, it’s tempting. Hungry people do crazy things.
Sit-down restaurants also limit what you can eat. I’ve never ordered a starter in my life. They cost the same price as an entree! What in the world is that about! I’ve come to realize that there is probably a strategy to dining at sit-down restaurants. A strategy I don’t endorse. You eat as much complimentary salad and bread as possible, order a cheap starter, and order an entree. Eat a bit of the entree and bring the rest home with you for the next day. Is that what we’re supposed to do? Ask for a take-out container? If I wanted take-out, there’s a wonderful McDonalds located 5 minutes from my house. Come on.
One more thing about sit-down restaurants. I eat with my eyes first, and my mouth second. If there isn’t a picture of what I’m ordering on the menu, how am I supposed to eat with my eyes! Maybe I should’ve ducked into the kitchen for a sneak peak. And if there are pictures, the food looks much larger than what is actually placed in front of me. There should be a warning, “Objects on menu may appear larger than they actually are.” These restaurants, for the most part, are a complete farce. They ask, “How was your dining experience?” Bothersome. That’s how it was.
At buffets, my stomach is not handcuffed to a menu or the slow service of a college student, who is only interested in tips. Here’s a tip, stop lollygagging around, refill my drink when it’s empty, and bring ketchup if I order fries. It’s like these people have never been customers at a restaurant before.
I have been attending buffets ever since I was a kid. They have been good to me. When I was 7, my picture was taken at an Italian buffet and put in their brochure. It was a picture of me standing at the pasta station with my back facing the camera. Just like people have a face for television, I have a back for brochures, I guess. I remember standing there, as they took my picture, and I almost burnt my hand on the counter. The sacrifices a model makes, I tell ya.
My record for most slices of pizza eaten at a buffet is 11. Or maybe it’s 12. One of the two. I was about 8-years-old and destroyed the pizza station. I wasn’t a chubby child, I was just a bottomless pit. It also helped that I was at the restaurant for over 2 hours for a family occasion. That gave me time to digest.
Brief shout-out to Pizza Hut buffet. You are phenomenal. If only your buffet was open on weekends…
Another buffet moment I remember fondly happened about 10 years ago. I went up for dessert and put two brownies on my plate. Within 3 seconds, I dropped the brownies on the ground. I stood there, looking down, as if I was staring at a tombstone. “Brownies down! Brownies down!” A worker came by, picked them up, and told me it wasn’t a problem. I went back to the dessert counter and placed two new, fresh, brownies on my plate. Order had been restored.
In addition to Italian buffets, Chinese buffets are, equally, fantastic – especially Mandarin. You want to talk about a Heaven on Earth? Walk into a Mandarin buffet. Angels sing “hallelujah” as you enter. Oh no, sorry, an overly upbeat choir greets you with “Hello, welcome to Mandarin!” Same thing. There is a copious amount of food that will leave you breathless – literally and figuratively. The only problem I have with Mandarin is this: there is a time limit of 90 minutes, sometimes two hours. I understand why restaurants have time limits, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. What if, after 90 minutes, I’m still hungry? I came to your ravishing restaurant to eat a large meal – one that will fill me for the rest of the day. Now, I must leave because a clock says so? What is this, a final exam? “TIME IS UP. UTENSILS DOWN. SIR, DROP YOUR UTENSILS, NOW!”
Before I attend a buffet, I make sure I have an empty stomach before I go. Lunch is a perfect time for a buffet. You can plan ahead the day before with an early dinner and not eat anything until you arrive at the buffet the next day. Then, you eat as much as you can and don’t have to worry about dinner that night. Why eat two small meals, when you can eat one large meal?
Buffet etiquette. Alright folks, buckle up. When I attend a buffet, I am always courteous towards the people around me. I know, this post has made me sound like a huge animal who has saliva dripping from their mouth at the sight of food. I’m not. I believe in lining up to get food at a buffet. Apparently, I’m in the minority. The buffets I go to are a free-for-all. People cutting off everybody. Reaching for tongs that they shouldn’t be reaching for. Wait your turn! Don’t you see the line! Don’t you dare take the last slice of pizza after cutting in front of me! How dare you! I’ve come to realize that buffets are the closest thing to a war zone that I will ever experience. Elbows up. Trust no one. Get in. Get out. People mean business at buffets. They don’t have time to line up or get out of your way. It’s a mosh pit of people walking around with food. I don’t know how small children don’t get trampled or kicked like a football.
Buffets are great because they provide a wide selection of food and you can eat whatever you want, and as much of it as you choose. You can walk around and digest. You aren’t confined to a booth and forced to wait for food to be served to you. You serve yourself. You place the food on your own plate. You want a bit of everything? Take a bit of everything. Anything that gets the food baby in your belly kicking, I guess.
Oh, I almost forgot. The slow people at a buffet. My goodness. It’s like a long, leisurely, stroll through the park for some people. We’ve all heard these people at the buffet – in awe of what they are seeing. As if the Pope is dining in the next room. “Oh, look at how lovely this food is. Ohhh and the layout! How extravagant. I need a plate. Where are the plates? Ohhh the plates are nice and warm.” Excuse me, cut the dilly-dallying. This isn’t a museum. I appreciate you not bull rushing every station, but can you please put salad on your plate a little bit faster. Any slower and you’d be going in reverse. I just had to get that out.
I started this post by saying that food is wonderful. It is. Too many people are worried about what they eat though. I’ve never been to a gym in my life. Yes, I ran around the track at school, but I don’t classify that as a gym. I attend buffets, I eat what I like, and I don’t really care about the outcome. Of course I eat healthy foods and don’t splurge on all the “fatty foods”. Heck, I’m not even a big fan of desserts. But like I said, I eat with my eyes and mouth. I don’t count calories. I’m not overweight. My doctor says I’m healthy. So I enjoy food for what it is. We all gotta eat, right?
So the next time you’re at a buffet, remember these 3 things:
1) Eat what you like and as much of it as you can. You only eat a meal once! (That’s the saying, isn’t it?)
2) Get out of the way! Get in line and don’t cut people off. I don’t enjoy staring a hole through the back of your head until I see a light shining through to the other side, but I will if it’s warranted.
3) If you don’t enjoy your dining experience, then you’re doing it wrong.
Until then, bon appetit!