Nearly every Saturday during my sophomore year of college, my roommate and I would subject ourselves to a take-no-prisoners Indian buffet. Was it good? It had its moments, not the least of which was the grueling walk back to the dorm, the painful wait for the elevator doors to close, and the unambitious notion that it was only 12pm by the time we returned. It was also the source of my weekly intake of vegetables and kheer. The kicker was that the restaurant was signatory (now there’s a pompous way to say it) to my college meal plan, and unlike the other participating restaurants, the waitstaff weren’t ex-cons. Now you know what I’m thinking the next time we play 20 questions.
As you can see, at one point in my life, I had a weakness for buffets. Ostensibly, quality and hygiene were non-issues for me, but many other might be turned off by food that has been sitting around for hours and exposed to the great plagues of yesteryear. I mean it. The next time you decide to join the mosh pit in front of the king crab legs tray, think about which other patrons planted their legs on them first. Or hands, that’s much more likely.
So, the question of the day is, if you went to an all-you-care-to-eat buffet, one that defied fundamental restaurant logic and offered numerous cuisines from all over the world, what would occupy your plate(s)? The photos below detail my desired foods at the Le Meridien hotel buffet in Jakarta in February 2008. Do all of those items still get the welcome mat treatment? Check plus for yes, 不要 bùyào (don’t want it) for no. Let’s browse:
Dish #1: Alhamduli Middle Eastern Food. Oh wait, there’s some Greek present too. Tabouli, moussaka, hummus, and pita. Hint: Le Meridien has an in-house Lebanese restaurant. In other words, check PLUS.
Dish #2: We’re off to a good start, everything is drowning in olive oil. Check PLUS there. I spot grilled eggplant, olives and avocado, and what appears to be a straggler piece of mayonnaise fusili. Everything gets a check, save for the intruder.
Dish #3: Uh oh, this somewhat proves that I was in East Asia for a bit- the shell is still on the shrimp, and the peel is attached to the limes. Why did I go overboard with the limes anyway? Cholesterol, what’s that? All in all, a good choice. Check.
Dish #4:Here’s where things get real. In theory, I’d want to relive this course again and again. However, it as a petty excuse for a pancake, and how often do you think of Indonesia when you crave blueberry preserves? Or chocolate chips, for that matter? At the time, it worked, but the only constant in the picture is the whipped cream. And…olive oil? No, that’s not even maple syrup. It’s breakfast syrup. Pity us North American expats in Jakarta, won’t you?
What are your mainstays at a buffet? Do we have anything in common, besides gluttony?