Friday, October 14, 2016

Buffet Bonanza

In the last twenty years a phenomenon  has happened with American dining - the birth of the all you can eat buffet. These are all over the US right now, competing with fast food and slow food. Are they all that they promised? Yes and even more.

It seems that every town now has some kind of buffet. They used to be few and far between.I remember going to one twenty years ago for a bridal shower. It was amazing to see , with the variety of meats and sides.I had only ever experienced this in Atlantic City , where there was an all you can eat buffet in every hotel/casino. This probably was taken from Las Vegas where the concept is used to keep gamblers in the casino.Now it's one of the top industries for Chinese immigrants.providing employment for many young Asians..The buffets are taking over from the concept if a sit down restaurant where there is a set menu, usually  featuring Cantonese or sometimes Szechuan dishes or a combination of both.The buffets do offer such classic dishes as fried rice, lo mein and shrimp in lobster sauce but they also appeal to trends such as a sushi station along with other ethnic dishes such as ravioli and kielbasa.I know two local ones that also feature a weekend brunch menu that highlight bacon and sausages, along with pancakes and egg foo yung  (oh, well, they do try). Another non-Chinese idea is dessert. The Chinese usually just have fruit, namely oranges yet most buffets have a whole pastry  tray featuring Italian specialties like panna cotta and tiramisu. There are also neat little squares of vanilla, chocolate and carrot cakes as well as ice cream too. Fruit is there , thankfully, as a respite from all those calories..

Are these buffets good for a country known for overeating and obesity? Actually yes. Unlike most restaurants and fast food joints , people have more healthy choices. Any diner can make a plate of lean meats and veggies with melon or strawberries for dessert. It's just staying away from the sauced dishes and fried foods like chicken, cod, French fries and onion rings. Throw in a good portion of  plain white rice to fill up, This will fill you so you don't go back for seconds , thirds or even fourths. Another smart idea is portion control. Yes , you can have those fish sticks, just don;t pile your plate with them as some careless diners are wont to do. The same for those "fun" sides like crab filled mushrooms, and fried plantains. The idea also applies to dessert too. As tasty as your buffet's chocolate cake is, don't go hog wild and get three pieces. Share it table side.All buffets also offer bottomless drinks. Again choose wisely. Buffet foods tends to be salty which brings on massive thirst. Before you know it you;ve finished off your first glass and want more. Soda and sweet tea is loaded with sugar and calories. Stick with lemon water and unsweetened ice tea.Some buffets do offer club soda  and this is a great choice of having a fizzy drink without all the guilt.

Buffets are now a fixture in America. They're not going away any time soon People love them too much . After all, they are fun to visit and to indulge those foodie passions and crushes.

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