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 specials in Seattle meant a large particular date for my dad 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 america by way of 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 which i eat Indonesian food, though, only occasionally preparing babi kecap for lunch. After all, he had visit America to live like an American. That meant indulging in a specific amount of gluttony, a virtue within his mind if 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 steak or fish. He obsessed over the food groups on the dinner table. There has to be three different but complementary sections of food on the plate: a small pile of vegetables (frozen corn or Brussel sprouts, that he dumped in to a bowl, and microwaved with a minimum of three pats of butter before serving), a carbohydrate like 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 within the door, all you had to do was spend the money for host in the front counter something such as $11 to become 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 if 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 in the home could be bought at a nearby station. The platter of hot dinner rolls, still stuck together in a neat square, enjoyed a glossy sheen. Globs of congealed sauce stuck towards the meat, dried out from hours within heat lamp. I might have only been eight or nine during the time, but even so I suspected that the food could not often be as healthy as my dad insisted it absolutely was.
We filled plastic tumblers with water or soda and sat together in a booth; there were no waiters, but we sometimes stayed seated till the crowds across the trays thinned a little. While we waited, I wasn’t allowed to drink my beverage, lest I ruin my appetite. Once 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. Growing up in American, I looked down on the old country buffet hours of operation as place for people in need of charity, when he saw such bountiful vcubkg at this kind of low cost being a luxury. Though I never stated it out loud, I felt like my father was forcing us to consume there as he was cheap, which he was intentionally depriving of us of the experiences of normal families, who ate at regular restaurants with waitresses.
In all honesty, my dad can be cheap, and quite often when it comes to eating out. Provided that We have been alive, they have refused to tip waiters, an insufferable trait which has occasionally called for any clandestine mission to an ATM to ensure that I was able to sneak employees their due as he used the toilet. Once, when my mother was in the ultimate trimester of her pregnancy with me, she took him to a nice restaurant. He opened the menu, then abruptly got up and left. “I couldn’t stomach spending $70 using one meal. That seemed a little extravagant,” he informed me.