Did you know 2018 is the “Year of the Chinese Buffet?” Maybe it’s not noted on your calendar, but in my belly it’s perfectly clear. If I might say a couple words about Chinese buffets, “Yum; MORE!”
Nominally well-meaning friends and family eagerly point out my increasing girth since spring, heckling cruelly as I breathlessly tie my shoe or blindly grope for a belt hole. Current suspects of interest are the Peter’s Café unlimited trip soup bar and the Chinatown buffet I frequent frequently.
I can’t help it; everything on that buffet is just so hot and delicious, plus the exercise from countless brisk walks from table to the steaming food bar and back can’t be underestimated. And since I often dine alone doing crossword puzzles, I never have to hear, “How many trips is that for you?” Don’t ask; don’t tell.
I’m always taken back to a portly, engaging fellow who often delivered shingles to my jobs a few years ago. Darryl asked with a childlike giddiness, “Have you eaten at that Chinatown buffet yet? It’s really good, and you can keep eating till you’re sick!”
He was dead serious, which I found comically endearing. Then recently during one of my private, midday mega-meals, with elbows flying overtop a steaming plate of noodles smothered by pork and mushrooms, I put down my egg roll long enough to send a group text to my three nephews.
Thinking back to my friend Darryl’s remark, I was stupefied when I realized what I had just sent. With a childlike giddiness, I had written, “I’m at the Chinese buffet. I’m so stuffed but I’m going back at least one more time. Legally they can’t make you stop eating, ya know.”
I grinned at the irony, but suddenly remembered the food-loving Darryl had a debilitating stroke last year. Thankfully, I saw him and his wife at the fair this summer and he appears to be making a comeback.
Although a sobering revelation, it would be a knee-jerk reaction to blame any of that misfortune on all-you-can-eat buffets. Simply genetics, I’m thinking. So I haven’t let it deter me from entertaining that seductive craving for heaping helpings of scrumptious Chinese food.
It matters not that I have trouble distinguishing one dish flavor from another; I’m a meal mix-and-match guy anyway. Heck, I’ll pile up white and fried rice and lo mein noodles, underneath pork concoctions mingling shamelessly with chicken dishes and so on. Chased with egg rolls dripping with sweet and sour sauce, I just keep shoveling it all in and let the chips fall where they may.
In my gluttonous defense though, let’s not forget most of these dishes include various veggies and often cabbage. Cabbage! That’s some serious roughage.
So I have few qualms about shelling out the modest fee for stuffing myself with choice variables that leave Thanksgiving an embarrassed second. What’s not to love about the Chinese buffet? An encouraging extra that isn’t lost on me as I engorge myself is the frequency at which I glance around to see Chinese family members and employees contentedly munching those very dishes they’ve served me. You won’t see that at your typical greasy spoon. I see it as a trust and verification issue.
I do take issue, though, with the fortunes inside those sweet cookies. I’m beginning to think more times than not, those things aren’t even accurate — maybe more a pre-tip encouragement. My last fortune read, “You have an ambitious nature and will make a name for yourself.” Yeah, right! My only ambition was to go straight home, watch TV and take a nap. If I make a name for myself, it will likely be “Homer Simpson, Couch King.”
The fortune makers should take a tip from the cooks and offer variation and realistic options. I mean, we buffet addicts might be fat, but we’re not stupid. We know each time we leave your place, we’re not going to come into unimaginable wealth or meet the love of our lives. How about keeping it real; we can take it.
I propose completely retooling the system and throw in the occasional, “Go straight home, Tubby; the rest of your day looks bleak,” or “Give up, loser!”
Quit coddling and insulting us!
Fortunes aside though, I’m trying to think of a 13-letter crossword answer for “glorious experience.” Oh yeah, “Chinese buffet.”