He saw the abundance of the Old Country Buffet as a symbol of his success, proof that he had transcended his old identity as a poor immigrant.
Going out to dinner in the old country buffet catering menu in Seattle meant a big night out for my father and me. By his very 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 through Holland: babi kecap, a garlicky pork dish simmered in ketjap medja (an Southeast Asian variation on soy sauce also referred to as kecap manis) and gado-gado, a salad of cucumber and tofu topped with peanut sauce. He never insisted i eat Indonesian food, though, only occasionally preparing babi kecap for dinner. After all, he had come to America to reside like an American. That meant indulging in a certain amount of gluttony, a virtue in the mind in the event it got to eating.
His look at food was, and 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 at the dinner table. There has to be three different but complementary sections 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 a minimum of three pats of butter before serving), a carbohydrate like French-fried potatoes or rice, along with a slab of meat. And nowhere was this philosophy made quite so literal than at the Old Country Buffet.
When you walked in the door, the only thing you were required to do was spend the money for host in the front counter something such as $11 to be 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 loads of mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and green beans and corn which had a suspiciously similar texture to the bagged stuff Dad nuked in the home could be available at a nearby station. The platter of hot dinner rolls, still stuck together in a neat square, experienced a glossy sheen. Globs of congealed sauce stuck for the meat, dried from hours within a heat lamp. I may just have been eight or nine at the time, but even so I suspected that the food could not possibly be as healthy as my dad 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 little. Basically we waited, I wasn’t allowed 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 have got to eat. Growing up in American, I looked down on the what time does old country buffet open as place for people needing charity, when he saw such bountiful vcubkg at this type of affordable price as being a luxury. Though I never stated it out loud, I felt like my father was forcing us to eat there as he was cheap, and this he was intentionally depriving individuals in the experiences of normal families, who ate at regular restaurants with waitresses.
In all honesty, my father could be cheap, and quite often with regards to dining out. As long as I have been alive, they have refused to tip waiters, an insufferable trait that has occasionally called for a clandestine mission to an ATM so that I could sneak employees their due while he used the bathroom. Once, when my mother was in the last 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 informed me.