Towards the end of an Alaska cruise that we took some years ago, passengers were informed that a Seafood Buffet had been arranged for the next to the last evening. It was indeed a grand buffet. In addition to seafood salads, shrimp and fish prepared in different ways, mussels and clams, there were steamed Alaskan King Crab legs. Now King Crab legs are expensive. I saw them on sale the other day and they were priced at $ 20 / lb. As expensive as they might be, I was not prepared for the behavior of some of my fellow diners. They loaded up their plates with King Crab legs and neglected everything else. Some of them even went back for seconds.
Why is it that we turn into such gluttons at the prospect of unlimited food? I have seen this behavior in a number of settings over the years and have never failed to be turned off by it.
At lunch buffets at Indian restaurants, patrons concentrate on the tandoori chicken. At a Chinese buffet, I once saw a father and son pile their plates high with spareribs. No wonder they were obese. At an Italian/ Indian wedding that we attended, the food was over the top. There was one section for Italian food and another for Indian delicacies. As if this was not enough there was a third table with a lavish display of seafood, the highlight of which was whole steamed lobsters. To my disgust, some diners took two lobsters apiece and I afterwards noticed that they had left most of them half eaten.
At Ichi Umi, in Edison N.J, which offers an unlimited buffet that includes all you can eat sushi, there are now signs on the tables warning diners that if they take sushi and eat only the fish ( leaving behind the rice), they will have to pay extra. BTW, the idea of all-you-can-eat sushi is peculiar to America. In Japan, sushi is a delicacy to be savored by the piece. By contrast, there is at least one restaurant chain here in New Jersey that offers unlimited sushi for about $ 24 apiece.
At an awards ceremony dinner in Tokyo that I attended, there were continental specialties and Japanese specialties. I took a little time deciding what I wanted to eat. By the time I got to the buffet, the sashimi was gone, every last piece snapped up by the (mostly) Japanese invitees.
This last experience led me to conclude that such deplorable behavior is not the province of any one country or nationality. It is to be found all over the world. In countries where food is expensive and not easily afforded, it is perhaps understandable but there is no excuse for taking food and wasting it. In my case, I was taught as a child to clean my plate and that lesson has carried on into my adult years. The same goes for my wife. We never take more than we can eat and we don’t focus on the most expensive foods at a buffet. After all, once you have eaten a few bites of a particular dish, the rest is not nearly as enjoyable; it is time to move on to other items.
There is one case, however, where I can understand people taking more than their fair share..
At the Men’s Club meetings in our development, there are usually coffee and cookies laid out at the end of the meeting. Some men, I notice, take four and five cookies apiece and that does not leave any for the tailenders. I used to be annoyed because, on more than one occasion, the cookie platter has been bare when I got to it. Thinking it over, though, I understand the reason for my fellow-members behavior. Most of them have a sugar problem and their wives are very strict ; there are no cookies at home. These meetings are only occasions when they can get any. You’re excused , fellows!(LOL)