When I was a kid, my family rarely went out to dinner. We almost always ate at home. Even if my parents didn’t cook, we would get takeout instead of going somewhere.
On the rare occasion that we would go to dinner, we would wind up at Royal Fork, the local buffet restaurant. My older brother and I loved Royal Fork because we got to eat “American” food that our Filipino parents rarely or never made–things we only saw on TV.
For example, mashed potatoes and gravy was something we normally only had at Thanksgiving, but we could have unlimited amounts at Royal Fork. It made my brother and I giddy.
Although the older and wiser me knows that the food at Royal Fork probably wasn’t very good, I still have a soft spot for the buffet. It’s an economical way to provide a lot of food and a lot of choice. For this reason, the buffet may be quintessentially Filipino. A long table with a row of chafing dishes full of food is a familiar site at Filipino gatherings. This is family-style eating on steroids.
I’m not the only one who has steam table nostalgia. For Thursday girls night, we recently had a Old Country Buffet-themed dinner. I’ve never been to Old Country Buffet, but I appreciated the sentiment. Our buffet included lasagna, roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans and macaroni salad.