Harris R.

The Buffet Memoirs

Throughout my life, I have wandered to buffets across the country. I have journeyed as far as Scottsdale, Arizona for a five star buffet and have ventured as close as a mile in Lexington, Massachusetts for a decent Chinese buffet. Each buffet has a different feel, different people there for different reasons: maybe it’s the cheap price of $7.95 or perhaps it’s the idea of stuffing dumplings in your purse for lunch the next day. This is the story of one of my many adventures and experiences of the buffet.

Most of my adventures usually occur when I travel to Scottsdale to visit my grandparents. I have seen and met those that have conquered the buffet, but my grandparents have even surpassed the likes of Johnny “Big Portions” Miller and Shirley “The Buffet Princess” Alexander. At most of the buffets my grandparents have taken me to, it is not the food that is amazing, but the art in which they take and eat the food. My grandmother, who might go down in the record books as the greatest buffet eater ever, moves like a snake to each station, surveying the food, and then as if pouncing on her prey, pours food on her plate without being noticed. You can’t find her, she moves like a shadow, until she returns to the table with food piled on her plate. The amount of food is jaw-dropping. How could a person that claims not to be hungry build such a tower of food? In my most recent travel to a buffet, my grandparents dazzled everyone with one of the most inspiring buffet exhibitions of all time.

It was just three weeks ago and on my grandparents anniversary, my family and I decided to take them to an outstanding buffet. Throughout the day, everyone spoke of it as if it was the eighth wonder of the world. When we arrived at the buffet that night, I could tell I was in the presence of greatness. To my right stood my grandfather. You could see how focused he was, his eyes were staring straight ahead with a look of determination, he was in the “Buffet Zone” as some of us like to call it. To my left stood the legend herself, my grandmother. At first glance you wouldn’t think that someone of her proportion would be able to eat very much, but once she steps inside of the buffet, she can put away gut busting portions.

I have been to enough buffets to notice the way people approach and have a game plan before they even put food on their plates. In a recent interview with my brother, he explained the first part of the buffet process: “The moment you walk into a buffet restaurant, you can separate the boys from the men. There are those that skip the first part of the process and go straight to their table, and there are the masterminds that scout their opponent before they are even seated. This is the first step in attacking the buffet, you must scout out and observe the food before you put anything on your plate. If you are not prepared, you could become overwhelmed by the amount of food and feel full before the fork touches your mouth.” Before we were seated, my grandparents moved like grizzled veterans through the buffet, surveying the food and trying to find its weak point. When they returned, they were all business. “The steak looks so delicious, Harris, you wouldn’t believe all the food they have, it’s like I died and went to heaven,” she said with her thick Brooklyn accent. We were then seated, and soon afterwards, my grandparents moved in on the buffet. My grandmother moved with grace and quickness, while my grandfather used his trademark shoulder-down technique to bulldoze any defenders away from his path. What came next was a beautiful display which few had witnessed before.

My father was close by, watching with astonishment at what he was witnessing. In a recent interview, he spoke of what he saw that night.

“It was remarkable, I had never seen anything like that in a long time. It was like looking at a beautiful painting only, instead, it was an old Jewish couple eating massive portions of food. It was one of the greatest displays of serving I have ever seen in my life.”

My grandparents returned with food piled so high it rivaled Mount Everest. They then began an exhibition of eating that may have been greater than that of John “Triple Bypass” Scott in the summer of ‘78.

My mother was there and, in a recent interview, recalled the experience.

“It was just unbelievable, it felt like I was watching the all-star game of the buffet. The amount of food was as tall as a skyscraper, but it seemed to shrink by the second. I still wonder how they did it.”

I saw it with my own eyes. Dumplings, chicken, steak, fish, pasta, my grandparents had devoured it all. The chefs and waiters stared at my grandparents, and looks of astonishment passed over the other families’ faces. Never before had they seen such an inspiring display as this.

We paid the check and as we turned to leave, all the people at the buffet rose like on big wave. As we rose from our chairs and started to walk away from our table, a slow clap broke out from the waves of people. My grandparents walked past the sea of people applauding them, and thanked them for their kindness. My grandparents turned to give their admirers one last look and a final salute to those that had been part of that amazing night.

We walked down the steps towards our car, everyone except my grandparents feeling like they had to go Weight Watchers the next morning. We reached the bottom of the steps and lying on top of car was the nicest gesture of all, a freshly roasted chicken for my grandparents.


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