american buffets

I think American food buffets are a very very curious phenomenon. I don’t go often, because they are kind of gross when you really think about it. But when I have gone in the past, I always have left amazed, amazed that we believe that food can be should be served in mass quantities for a small price tag, amazed that in a land of so much abundance (and wastes), people seem so nervous about that abundance somehow disappearing.

We are hungry in America. We are hungry for food and are insecure about being without food in America, and that’s why buffets are so fascinating. They’re like a microcosm of us. Kind of.

The biggest “named” buffet in my state is Golden Corral, not to be confused with the bluegrass corral where livestock call home. I’m kidding about this. Or I’m kidding about the livestock part.Even though, I have been to a Golden Corral that did regularly smell of real livestock, manure, hay, and all.

Every evening, Golden Corral is packed. It’s sometimes packed with families, sometimes with old men with breathing machines, sometimes with large women with mustaches, sometimes with skinny people, sometimes with tall people, but always with people who wants to get more food for their money. I’m there, too, not skinny, not large, just somewhere in the “average” spectrum of, what I call, relative skinny. I’m here because I, like them, want to try to see how much “bang” I can get for my buck and because I like trying lots of foods in small quantities.

At this restaurant, there are patrons who eat and leave and others who linger, laughing at everything, I presume, to burn calories to make room for dessert.

I usually can only do one and half plates so when I finish, and to make my $9.99 paid really “worth” it, I look around. I watch and take notes of what others are doing and allow my food to digest.


Do you eat at American buffets? What, if anything, do you think they reveal about the American nation at large?

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