Friday, October 15, 2010

Someone Please Explain Why...

There is one thing that I consistently have seen at buffets since I started going to them many years ago. It seems to be universal and makes no real sense at all. Someone please explain why people have a need at a buffet to take one plate and pile an entire meal on it. Each food spooned on in quantity, one on top of the other.

I have seen the oddest things piled high on top of each other on plates at buffets. The all time oddest was the lady who took her plate with a steak fresh from the grill on it and go over to the ice cream soft serve machine and place serving of vanilla ice cream on top of the steak - followed by a variety of other foods from the serving bar. I have seen the cup of soup put on the plate with salad all around it and the rest of the meal including dessert piled on top. I want to go over and ask, "Hey, don't you know that you can go back as many times as you want?". Will this be a major revelation?

There are buffets where you can take all you want in one trip to the server and there I could understand taking a variety and quantity all on the same plate within reason. The same would be the case with take out buffet meals. But, come on people, when you come into a regular buffet, all you care to eat, restaurant, you are allowed to go back to the serving area as many times as you like. You may take as many plates as you like and fill those plates as many times as you like (each time a clean plate, please).

It gets to be ridiculous, sometimes disgusting. One food on top of the other goes on the plate. Each food mixing into whatever came before it. No room to even cut what is on the plate with a knife to eat it. And certainly, not a "normal" way to eat.

In most buffets one does not need to be concerned that on the next trip back up to the serving area, what you saw before won't be there. (True at some buffets, but I will not go into that right now.) Interrupting the meal to go up and get more is no different than waiting for courses to be served by a waiter.

Is there any rational explanation for it? I can't come up with one.

This is one reason why buffets have such a bad reputation in the food world and can be completely blamed on those who dine at buffets rather than the buffets themselves. It is certainly clear going in if you can go up as many times as you like or if you are limited to one trip - and frankly if you are limited to one trip and you like buffets why are you dining there? Buffets get a bad rap. Is it any wonder with people eating like this? I have come across a very nasty definition of the word "buffet" using the letters of the word to describe the people eating there. I will not reveal this now - maybe someday, but it really is nasty. I have also heard buffet dining described as "hogs at a trough". All of this sadly is how many think of us and buffet dining.

So comment back on this article. Please explain a rational and reasonable reason why you or any one eats this way. Maybe I am missing some key element here. Though I doubt it.


Anonymous said...

The reason for "piling" is that many buffets do not replenish items. So if you see something good, people think they need to bring it back to the table before it is gone. We used to go to the OCB in Levittown with my neighbor before it got dirty. Our neighbor was an older lady, and used to pile up her plate like you described. She would actually put ice cream on top of the meat on top of the mashed potatoes, etc. Once she had a whole pile of chocolate pudding on top of pizza! Her rationale was that she better "get it before it was gone." Pasta ran into the apple sauce. We saw her point, altho we never did it ourselves. They used to run out of things. And she didn't want to bring many plates back to the table. So she piled. You should have sen her eat pudding and spaghetti in the same mouthful. It was quite a sight.

Stephen C. said...

They run out of things, so people fill up their plates. It happens all the time. Hope that explains it for you.

Robert A said...

At that particular OCB they still run out of things - and I must say that I have been tempted - there - but only there and never did it.


Thanks for the comment!

Robert A said...

This seems to be the popular reason - BUT many buffets (most) do not run out of things and keep replenishing. So it is there all night - and if it is not let someone in charge know!

myztiX said...

It depends on the items IMO. Some of the foods have synergy and can be piled on top of each other.
Secondly, if "things run out" why not get 2 plates instead of one.

There's certain concoctions that are eye-sores. Some of them makes me lose my appetite, and I usually have a huge one. Sometimes buffet are used for social gathering/parties, so dumping all the food in 1 plate versus going up a multiple amount of times are each a double edged sword.

Depending on the buffet, the food is usually replenished within 30 minutes, unless they are the hot items i.e. seafood. I've never seen the ice cream run out to warrant such action, unless it's to the person's preference.

Ari M. said...

The main reason is probably laziness to get up again. Also I suppose if you are at a crowded buffet, it could be annoying to keep running into a waiting line. In any event, I prefer to make several trips myself.

By the way, I think I have a good guess for the acronym, but it might not be appropriate to publish here, lol.

Enjoy the blog. Remember I checked it out a while back, then forgot the name of it, and now found it again. Glad it's still here. Fellow big buffet fan myself. Wish more restaurants would adopt the concept, especially in the New York/LI area (other than Asian buffets which are not my particular favorite).

Anonymous said...

Okay, you know, they will never run out of apple sauce or soft serve ice cream. So that argument is invalid. The items they might run out of are, steak, chicken, ham, shrimp, crab and if you are in Vegas, where they sometimes have lobster, then, lobster. So don't worry, apple sauce will still be there, though, I don't get why you eat that at a buffet. Try new things.

dave1973 said...

Anyone who piles everything on their plates are simply too lazy to get more than 1 plate. They're also too lazy to make multiple trips. As for running out of certain items, some buffets are too lazy to replenish it, if it's something that can be made quickly. I've seen it at Asian Buffet in Michigan City Indiana, where their staff wasn't replacing food. That place was also dirty.

What really gets me is when people use spoons & tongs from a specific food, & contaminate them by using them on another food. When I see that happen, I refuse to get that specific food, plus the food that the spoon & tong that the food originally came from. I found a few cases where the staff will actually condone it, & refuse to replace the utensil along with the food (primarily happens at Golden Corral Schererville Indiana near me).

David Deal said...

I think there may be a cultural element at play here as well. I've noticed that mounding the whole meal on one plate is a common practice among the hispanic diners that I have seen at my local buffets (Wisconsin). I have seen people of all cultural/ethnic backgrounds do it, but among this population it is the norm, making me think that maybe it has something to do with cultural values or upbringing. Perhaps it is an unconscious (or conscious) attempt to maximize the perceived value of the plate of food one has purchased. The higher the mound of food, the better the deal one has gotten by eating at that buffet. Just a hypothesis...