He saw the abundance of the Old Country Buffet as a symbol of his success, proof that he had transcended his old identity as being a poor immigrant.
Going out to dinner in the old country buffet menu prices in Seattle meant a big evening out for my dad and me. By his own admission, he’s not an excellent cook. He is able to only prepare two dishes, both memories of his childhood in Jakarta, where his family lived before they immigrated to the usa by way of Holland: babi kecap, a garlicky pork dish simmered in ketjap medja (an Southeast Asian variation on soy sauce also called kecap manis) and gado-gado, a salad of cucumber and tofu topped with peanut sauce. He never insisted that I eat Indonesian food, though, only occasionally preparing babi kecap for lunch. In the end, he had visit America to reside as an American. That meant indulging in a certain quantity of gluttony, a virtue within his mind if it came to eating.
His look at food was, but still is, admirably uncomplicated: Protein reigns supreme, therefore healthy bodies should take in a nightly serving of protein-rich red meat or fish. He obsessed on the food groups in the dinner table. There should be three different but complementary parts of food on your plate: a small pile of vegetables (frozen corn or Brussel sprouts, which he dumped right into a bowl, and microwaved with at the very least three pats of butter before serving), a carbohydrate like French-fried potatoes or rice, as well as a slab of meat. And nowhere was this philosophy made quite so literal than on the Old Country Buffet.
Whenever you walked in the door, all you had to do was pay the host in front counter something similar to $11 to get granted an all-access pass to stations piled high with thoroughly American food: Main courses included roast beef, fish like halibut and salmon, baked chicken, pork chops, and steak should you got lucky. Greasy heaps of mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and green beans and corn which had a suspiciously similar texture towards the bagged stuff Dad nuked at home may be available at a nearby station. The platter of hot dinner rolls, still stuck together in a neat square, had a glossy sheen. Globs of congealed sauce stuck towards the meat, dried out from hours within a heat lamp. I may just have been eight or nine at that time, but even so I suspected that the food could not possibly be as healthy as my father insisted it had been.
We filled plastic tumblers with water or soda and sat together in a booth; there was no waiters, but we sometimes stayed seated up until the crowds around the trays thinned a bit. While we waited, I wasn’t permitted to drink my beverage, lest I ruin my appetite. When we served ourselves, I stubbornly picked at my food in silence, upset which i had no say in where or whatever we got to eat. Being raised in American, I looked down on the what time does old country buffet close as location for people needing charity, while he saw such bountiful vcubkg at such a low cost as a luxury. Though I never stated it out loud, I felt like my dad was forcing us to consume there as he was cheap, and that he was intentionally depriving of us from the experiences of normal families, who ate at regular restaurants with waitresses.
To be honest, my dad could be cheap, and often in terms of dining out. So long as We have been alive, he has refused to tip waiters, an insufferable trait which includes occasionally called for a clandestine mission to an ATM so that I was able to sneak employees their due when he used the toilet. Once, when my mother is in the ultimate trimester of her pregnancy with me, she took him to your nice restaurant. He opened the menu, then abruptly got up and left. “I couldn’t stomach spending $70 on one meal. That seemed somewhat extravagant,” he told me.