One is never too old to learn new things, even if those new things should be so blessedly obvious that a friend should smack the back of one’s head if ever proclaimed aloud.
Yet proclaim aloud is exactly what I’m about to do. Those wishing to smack the back of my head should take a number and step in line behind the vast number of my family who have been waiting for decades for the opportunity.
New thing learned #1: Getting sick while alone in a different country sucks, even if that country is Canada.
New thins learned #2: Airline travel while sick will annoy both you and those who are forced to be in your proximity.
I’m back home now and getting better. I did not get to see as much of Calgary as I had wished, mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t motivated to do much beyond except for watch the Canadian version of Food TV, which I found to be a little more informative and entertaining than their American counterpart. I am unsure why this is and will reflect on this at a later time.
Luckily for me, room service was horrendous at the place where I was holed up. The food was, overpriced, often served cold, and when it arrived it seemed to be lacking in…what’s that word I’m looking for? Oh yeah….taste. This gave me the opportunity to head out, while under the influence of Tylenol Cold medicine, to one other local eatery…a place with a breakfast buffet.
Let me state, for the record, a new Law. Let’s call it Kate’s Law of Mediocrity, which states that: There is no such thing as a great buffet.
Period. End of story. Exclamation point. Underline three times. Then post on a bulletin board and proclaim aloud over an intercom. There is no such thing as a great buffet.
I hear you doubters out there. “But Kate,” your saying. “What about Las Vegas?”
I’ve been to Vegas, and have eaten at several of the buffets, including the Bellagio’s where each stand was tended by a quick and willing staff member, willing to help, and ensuring that nothing went cold. The Bellagio’s buffet was not bad. But it was not great either. It was only okay.
The basic problem with buffets is it’s basic premise – That food has to sit out for an extended period of time while many members of the general public get to stare, poke, and prod at the many products presented.
There’s two reasons why this premise does not produce great food. One, the cooks are mass producing the food. Where a regular restaurant typically serves food a plate at a time, a buffet is not afforded this luxury. Personal attention to details by a chef are often replaced by anything that allows to put a greater amount of food on the table in the shortest amount of time.
The second reason buffets don’t produce good food is due to the fact that they have to sit out in the open air for anywhere between five to thirty minutes before the pan is emptied and replaced. As anyone who has worked in catering can tell you, heating lamps, water baths, and Cres Cors all have limitations when to keeping foods as hot and fresh as when they first left the grill or fryer.
There is a corollary to this Law. It’s the Indian Cuisine corollary that states that an Indian buffet is the only cuisine that has the chance to be great in a buffet setting. This is the corrollary that proves the initial Law.
The reason Indian food (and I’m using the “Indian” term generically here) works in a buffet is that many of the dishes are what some might term “stews”. The quality of many of the items in an Indian buffet actually benefit from extended sitting, which allows the many spices and herbs to infuse throughout the dish. For example, if one is having a Lamb curry, the lamb will improve in both flavor and texture if allowed to keep cooking the the curry sauce. Of course, the quality of the rest of the buffet will be determined by how often the naan, rice, and tandori items are kept fresh and hot, but I think that the Indian corollary works well with the Law of Mediocrity.
There are folks smarter than myself who will likely be able to tie the styles of the Indian Buffet to the traditional family style of eating. But as many folks in the comments are soon to point out, my specific knowledge of Indian cuisine, especially its history, is lacking.
Besides, I’m still under the influence. But I am getting better. At least now I’m craving Indian food.