March 30, 2023

Once in a while, food is the ingredient that binds us together.
Ah! The sizzling, savory smell of exotic swine while laughter and chitchats cascade across the building. Everyone looked as if they had all the control armed with scissors and tongs. Waiters take turns to fill the buffet table while customers fight impatience waiting to fill the hunger. The neo-capitalism of buffets is outshined by the perceived budget-friendly way to spend quality time with people you love. We are given choices and we choose a business of secrecy to keep our secrets along with other loud customers.
We went out on an afternoon, but taking the risk of not eating at noon did not pay off as we were stunned by the long line despite being already past lunchtime.
Customers knew how this works and have already thought alike. Before, we do not come during peak hours or weekdays without expecting congestion of people. But now, there seems to be a thin line between weekends and weekdays obviously caused by the pandemic. Moreover, breakfast became brunch and lunch became early dinner.
As soon as we were taken to our table, the feast begins and may the odds be ever in our favor as we take turns to pile food on our plates. The literal hunger games begin while the restaurant’s fast music beat suited the setting. Excuse us for acting uncultured but it’s food that fuels the human soul at the moment. We felt empowered when the last remaining rice rolls were on our plates.
The main course was the myriad stories that we held close to our hearts, dispensed in between sumptuous bites: anecdotes that made us laugh and think deeply like philosophers; cathartic moments of the week that we lived and surpassed; the forgotten burnt meat that was overcome by bright endless goals and visions.
The table was a witness that will never speak about three driven grown-ups who are still navigating what it means to grow up.
The hunger subsided and so were the stories. Waiters constantly refilled the buffet table. People came in hungry and went out fueled. Drinks are not part of the service but are charged twice if purchased.
While it felt good to be full, I was more fulfilled by the company with whom to share the satisfaction. I could then say that once in a while, buffet restaurants are a go-to place for affordable food with treasured friends. (CLEEVIMAE S. OYAN)