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 to dinner at the old country buffet in Seattle meant a huge night out for my father and me. By their 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. All things considered, he had come to America to live as an American. That meant indulging in a specific amount of gluttony, a virtue in his mind in the event it came to eating.
His look at food was, yet 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 must be three different but complementary parts of food on your own plate: a tiny 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 Fried potatoes or rice, along with a slab of meat. And nowhere was this philosophy made quite so literal than in the Old Country Buffet.
Whenever you walked inside the door, all that you had to do was pay for the host in the front counter something similar to $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 in the event you got lucky. Greasy heaps of mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and green beans and corn which had a suspiciously similar texture to the bagged stuff Dad nuked at home might 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 to the meat, dried out of hours within a heat lamp. I might have only been eight or nine at that time, but even then I suspected the food could not often be as healthy as my dad 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 till the crowds across the trays thinned a little. While we waited, I wasn’t able 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 what we reached eat. Growing up in American, I looked down on the what time does old country buffet close as place for people in need of charity, as he saw such bountiful vcubkg at this type of low price being a luxury. Though I never said it out loud, I felt like my dad was forcing us to enjoy there because he was cheap, which he was intentionally depriving people of the experiences of normal families, who ate at regular restaurants with waitresses.
To tell the truth, my father can be cheap, and often in terms of dining out. As long as We have been alive, they have refused to tip waiters, an insufferable trait that has occasionally called for any clandestine mission to an ATM in order that I really could sneak employees their due when he used the toilet. 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 a single meal. That seemed a little extravagant,” he told me.