He saw the abundance of the Old Country Buffet as being 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 in Seattle meant a large evening out for my father and me. By his very own admission, he’s not an excellent cook. He can only prepare two dishes, both memories of his childhood in Jakarta, where his family lived before they immigrated to america by means 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 come to America to have such as an American. That meant indulging in a certain quantity of gluttony, a virtue in the mind if it came to eating.
His view of food was, and still is, admirably uncomplicated: Protein reigns supreme, therefore healthy bodies should take in a nightly serving of protein-rich steak or fish. He obsessed over the food groups at the dinner table. There must be three different but complementary sections of food on your plate: a little pile of vegetables (frozen corn or Brussel sprouts, that he dumped right into a bowl, and microwaved with at least three pats of butter before serving), a carbohydrate like French-fried potatoes or rice, and a slab of meat. And nowhere was this philosophy made quite so literal than on the Old Country Buffet.
When you walked within the door, all you were required to do was pay the host in front counter something like $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 heaps of mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and green beans and corn who had a suspiciously similar texture for the bagged stuff Dad nuked in your own home may 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 out of hours under a heat lamp. I may just have been eight or nine at that time, but even then I suspected that this food could not often be as healthy as my father insisted it was.
We filled plastic tumblers with water or soda and sat together in a booth; there have been no waiters, but we sometimes stayed seated up until the crowds around the trays thinned a bit. Basically we waited, I wasn’t able to drink my beverage, lest I ruin my appetite. After we served ourselves, I stubbornly picked at my food in silence, upset i had no say in where or what we have got to eat. Growing up in American, I looked down on the http://www.oldcountrybuffet.com/ as place for people needing charity, as he saw such bountiful vcubkg at such a low cost as being a luxury. Though I never stated it out loud, I felt like my father was forcing us to consume there while he was cheap, and this he was intentionally depriving individuals in the experiences of normal families, who ate at regular restaurants with waitresses.
To tell the truth, my dad can be cheap, and frequently in terms of dining out. Provided that We have been alive, they have refused to tip waiters, an insufferable trait that has occasionally called for a clandestine pursuit to an ATM in order that I really could sneak the employees their due when he used the bathroom. Once, when my mother is in the final 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 a bit extravagant,” he informed me.