The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Makes America Free

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Souce: The American Conservative

Perhaps I should have studied or socialized more in graduate school, because some of my fondest and most vibrant memories are of evenings spent alone in all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets (which I’ve also written about here and here).

The appeal of the buffet, at a base level, is in its unlimited variety. It sets off the same childlike enthusiasm as a trade expo or a giveaway pile at a yard sale. At age 26, it still triggers memories of giddy excitement over being able to eat whatever I wanted without my parents controlling portions or demanding that veggies come before dessert. (In my experience, dessert at a buffet is most appropriate as an interlude before a final plate.)

Buffets are sometimes cast as symbols of American greed, excess, and materialism. Their uncertain but likely relationship to obesity and eating disorders is disconcerting. In some ways, buffets may be an expression of something dark in our national psyche.

But to psychoanalyze the meaning of the buffet might be just as silly as contemplating the texture of the lo mein noodles or the quality of the sushi rice in the California roll; it misses the point. In addition to whatever the buffet may

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