what your buffet style says about you

“A cold buffet lunch.” The people who’d add such a phrase to an invitation need to have a chit-chat with the OPI people (of “I’m with Brad” and “Got the Blues for Red” fame). Surely they can come to some agreement and settle on an alternative name for “cold buffet lunch” that doesn’t make you want to lose yours. “Tea” has been working for a couple hundred years or so, no?

Buffet Pig

I hate buffets, cold or otherwise. Buffets are brimmed with regret, disappointment, and fat. I shouldn’t have gone back for thirds. Forgetting germs, hygiene, and overall manners, we’re dealing with a trough here. Grazing livestock. “Slop” and “Staph” fight to come to mind first. Also, let’s just call a spade: I’m as indecisive as they come. So, I basically create an international tasting menu on a single plate. Indian, Chinese, American, Italian, French. I’m utterly gruesome, and when my children aren’t around, I begin with dessert.

I know enough to at least know to keep my back to the buffet. People eat twice as more if they’re seated facing the buffet. Or some such statistic. Gives new meaning to the phrase, “Put your back into it.” I also know to survey the buffet before rolling up my sleeves and getting to it. I won’t stand in line until I’ve properly scoped out the options. It’s what people on the thinner side of fat do.

Buffet Style a la Cafeteria

ALL THAT ASIDE, is it just me or do you always leave stuffed but completely unsatisfied, somehow searching for other, wondering what you might have missed? Buffets feed the Jan Brady in all of us. We’re left to believe that the really savory moments are being had by everyone else.

Then there’s the issue of presentation, where, ultimately you have no one to blame but yourself when your plate resembles a molehill of intestines. Simply put, I’d much rather eat a beautifully adorned apple, cut with precision, paired with a confit, drizzled with a thoughtful reduction, served on a pool of puree than load up on comfort. Yes, I guess I am making the case for less is more. The one exception being a salad bar, especially at Whole Foods.

My practical and somewhat frugal husband—who prides himself on efficiency—however, might very well tread into the world of polygamy if laws suddenly change and we’re permitted to marry inanimate objects of desire. He lives for the buffet, overloading his plate with Fred Flintstone cuts of meat. Eye of Round, as he calls it. It’s easy to see where Eye of Round (aka Rump Steak) got its name. Round people always have their eye on it. Man, does my man love his buffet.

Even at weddings, as upscale as they come, I always prefer the passed Hors d’oeuvres to the “stations.” Unless the stations are strictly cocktail hour lure, fit with stone crabs, shellfish, and cheap caviar (I’m a sucker for toast points and crème fraiche). But for dinner, for cold lunch, and possibly even for a breakfast/brunch spread, I opt for the menu. But seeing as we’re headed to Vegas, I wonder if I can’t learn something from others. How do you buffet?



  1. I think buffets are gross too, and I do everything possible to avoid them. Every gross thing you said is right on. You did leave out sneezing. Ewwwww. And little sticky-fingered, boogery faced children. Acccckkk. And flies. Barrrrffff. Oh yeah, and barf. Bleeeeehhhh.

  2. For me, it depends. I don’t mind the buffet when someone is there handling the food for you, like a resort banquet hall. They usually wear gloves, after all.

    The most frightening eating frenzy I’ve ever seen was sadly at a good friend’s wedding! The appetizers were big baskets of chips and salsa. Every man, woman, and child put their hands in there, except me, gross! The drinks were served in pitchers at a “station” where no one was watching to make sure things didn’t get spilled, emptied, and all “germed up”. Eww… The “buffet” didn’t even have enough food for everyone.

    And speaking of Whole Foods, I NEVER try the samples they have laid out. I’ve seen too many people eating right OVER the tray with crumbs flying out of there mouth. No thanks!

  3. I don’t buffet. Can’t stand it. If I’m at a function where I can’t help it, I eat a bit and try not to think too hard about it. Luckily, my man feels the same way, so I don’t have to worry about him dragging me to one. Vegas has plenty of non-buffets!

  4. As much as I hate restrictions on my food at weddings and the like (ie: “Will you be having the chicken, steak, or fish?”) I gotta say the buffet is the lowest form of gluttony. At almost every buffet-style function I’ve been to, when the next table is selected to walk up to the buffet table (especially if it is lucky enough to be the first), those guests charge towards the food, pushing each other out of the way, like they haven’t eaten a day in their lives. As if the food will magically vanish if they don’t arrive in 4 seconds. It’s tragic, really.

    Same goes for free samples at my local grocery store. That’s more life-threatening than tragic. Dime-sized crackers and cheese and Dixie cups of clam chowder are, in fact, NOT that serious.

  5. Let’s call a spade: I’ll eat anything from a buffet, except for cottage cheese. Who in their right mind would eat that?

  6. I like non-buffet restaurants. I can’t eat large amounts of food at once, so I choose places where I can order up a storm, then bring home left overs to create my own “home buffet.”

  7. After reading this, I asked my husband “Are we buffet people?” And he said, “No. You get grossed out by germs and I’m afraid of dying because the potato salad has been left out too long.” And he’s right, we just don’t do buffets.

  8. Buffets are so hit or miss. I avoid them but have been to some weddings where they were done quite well. The problem is I run into the same feeling of being stuffed and unsatisfied irregardless of how “classy” the spread may be. I always want to try a little bit of everything and end up with no room for second samples of the (usually very few) items I liked. It feels like dating in Manhattan…there are quite a few “frogs” I end up sampling before finding something that doesn’t make me gag!

  9. Mandalay Bay has the best buffet. Lunch has a smaller selection. The highlight of dinner is all the king crab legs you can manage to eat.

  10. i’m with you – i hate buffets. you hit the nail on the head with the “stuffed but unsatisfied” feeling. i think what drives me crazy (and it’s the same thing with salad bars) is that they aren’t cheap and if i’m paying that much I want someone to do the work of plating and presenting my food for me! if i’m going to do that much work, i may as well eat at home!

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