Thursday, December 10, 2009

An American Buffet

Everyone needs to visit an American Buffet at least once in their life.

It's true. You just need to. If ever you've mistakenly called a Canadian an American, and you wonder why they get upset, just visit on of these buffets. Everything will become clear.

You see, Katherine had never been to one of these things before, and I felt it was my job to allow her the wonderous experience. Stew and Nick – you'll remember them from Germany – always deny me this joy when we travel down to Columbus. I'm not saying it's not a good idea, still it makes me sad. Because everyone needs to know just what this is like.

For a moment, when I discovered that the buffet was Chinese American, I was upset. Chinese Buffets are hard to screw up all that much, as they don't have the terrible terrible – I'm here to kill you – foods that other places do. But once we stepped inside, I knew that this cultural moment was still to be had!

The sign proclaiming “Parents, ensure your children use utensils.” was all I needed to see! That sign was there for a reason ladies and gentlemen. And the reason? Kids here did what they wanted, did what they pleased. It was a food fight free-for-all with familiar dishes being not quite right.

Sure, I saw the spring rolls. But they weren't quite spring rolls. No – they had been stuffed full of taco bell meat. And the sushi? Those rolls were all deep fried. And the noodles? Swimming in grease. What was most telling, most delightful, and most likely to make my darling companion vomit all over the sashimi tray that has been turning fish into rancid poison for the last two hours, was the vat situated beside the sweet and sour sauce. At first glance one might foolishly believe it to be lemon saunce. But closer inspection would prove it to be something far more distressing, far more devious, and far more American: It was a giant vat of steaming liquid butter. Mmm!

Who puts liquid butter on chinese food? Who puts liquid butter on anything in the amounts that would make it require a ladle?! I, personally, assume it's for the french fries. I can't back it up – but it's the least terrifying of all the presented options.

And just when I thought the final piece of an American Buffet was lost to me, I saw – tucked away in the back – a soft serve ice cream machine – perfect for those much desired plates full of ice cream!

Now that's healthy eating! U! S! A! U! S! A!

I thought that this place would be a joke to the other Americans. Clearly they must understand that this is wrong. But no – it came recommended. This was a favourite restaurant for some. Well, can't argue with that. Where else are you going to get your plate full of ice cream topped with delicious buttery goodness?

Katherine did a lot of learning in that hour. That terrible terrible hour.


With the food devoured it was off to the beach with my parents. A calm bit of sauntering exercise was what this called for. Of course, my dad rushed off to find Shark teeth, my mom wandered who knows where and Katherine – well she was busy chasing the birds.

Beach walks, in my youth, were often spent looking for the teeth of giant ocean fish looking to kill me. Black little T's they are, hidden amongst the shells. I would find them by the jar full. But I'd not come across any for some time. “What are the odds of finding,” “what?” my Dad interrupted, “shark teeth?” He then produced one. The game was on. Just as he held his up, i looked to the ground, and grabbed on as the wave was about to wash it away.

Katherine was busy chasing birds. And, again, this may have been because I told her too so I could take pictures of the spectacle, but that doesn't make for an interesting story. And my mom was still wandering somewhere off in the distance. It would later be revealed that she too was collecting teeth, before we could grab them. Curses.

The next hour was spent hunting for primeval chomping devices, shells, and photographic opportunities. I averaged one tooth every five minutes, coming in second by only a couple. Katherine picked one up as well – though she spent most of the time enjoying the sights, and relaxing along the waves. Pssh – sucker. Got more teeth than she did! Got more teeth than she did!

I fault my second place finish to taking up her philosophy for some of the return walk.

Then I played Photography Teacher to all those around me, explaining the importance of shutter speeds, ISO settings, and night portrait modes. All of these things were practiced, as the sun set over the ocean.

It was also explained how levels and staggered standing can make for more interesting pictures than four people shoulder to shoulder.

With the sun down, you'd think it would be time to call it a day – but no, not yet. There was a Christmas Cruise to enjoy.

This would entail sitting inside a boat full of old people for an hour and a half, as it sailed past houses. You see, the top section was full, and only chairs inside were for the sitting. Sucks to your Asthmar! I thought, and headed up top. I was yelled at, and sent back to my seat. Katherine's anger grew. But was finally sated as we were allowed to stand at the back of the boat, where I thought the best experience was to be had anyway. Aside from sucking in all the fumes from the backing up engine.

And because this day just didn't want to end, we headed off to the Olive Garden afterwards. Why the Olive Garden? Because I like Clone High. Nuff' Said.

They give you more food that you could possibly eat. Seriously – eat in America, then eat in Canada. The different is astounding. And I'm not sure what I prefer more.

Maybe not the best idea after a lunch at the butter ball buffet - still...

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