Saturday, January 15, 2011

Waste Not, Want Lots

Last night we went to the Golden Corral for dinner....and any images of a cattle round up are well justified. There is no reason for such places to exist but nevertheless we're drawn to them like moths to a flame. Where that flame has sizzling meat over it.

For those not in the loop, this is a buffet restaurant chain that uses registered catchphrases like "help yourself to happiness" and "everyone deserves a good meal" and customers do seem to help them to LOTS of happiness at a Golden Corral.

There is nothing to stop you having a small plateful of the pretty decent food on offer and the choice is astonishing. If a food item exists, there will be plenty of it on offer at the GC. The problem is, with so much on offer, it's very hard to avoid going back for more...and more....and then even more. A lot of the people there looked like they'd arrived 10 hours earlier for breakfast and just set up camp. Food items change from breakfast through lunch and finally for dinner. Hundreds of items like pancakes, sausages and bacon give way to roasts, fries and chicken which in turn give way to steaks, shrimp and more chicken as the morning turns to evening via afternoon.

I can't remember when we got there last evening but we stayed for about 2 hours, not eating too much, but just watching others. This is where people go to prepare themselves to be 'the people of Walmart' and their reward for all their excessive eating is an electric shopping scooter !

But as well as vast amounts of food going into over stretched stomachs, my concern is about the vast amounts of food going into bins once the doors have closed for the day. I doubt that staff are allowed to take it home or that it goes to homeless shelters or hospital kitchens. Law suits would inevitably ensue if someone got food poisoning. I think it was nearly closing time when we left and the staff were still filling up the troughs....sorry, serve the few remaining customers. The chef was still grilling steaks and piling them on top of others. New banana cakes, carrot cakes and lemon pies were being added on the dessert counter. Fresh french fries were being tossed onto an already overflowing pile. They might as well have been throwing all this food straight into the bins.

It costs just $11 (£6-£7) to potentially eat more in one sitting than many people around the world get to eat in a year. Like with The Big Texan where they boast about their 72oz steak meal which if you can eat it all in 1 hr you get it free, the Golden Corral plays on our greed and seeming inability to stop eating when we've had enough. It's there, we've paid for it and we eat more than we need or is healthy for us.

And before it sounds like I'm talking about others and not including myself, I'm not. Last evening I WAS one of those others. I didn't eat a lot but I still ate a little too much. And more to the point, I left too much. I didn't eat a chicken drumstick down to the bone as it was much easier to go and get a fresh one. I tried not to leave food but with the setup there, it's almost impossible not to do so. You try a piece of steak and if it's not perfect, you put it and anything else to the end of the table and within seconds it's taken away so you can go and get some different cut. Multiply that by hundreds and you get the point.

Unwanted food goes into the bin along with uneaten food. I can't imagine how large those bins must be or how many they must have round the back. I just hope they have tight lids as Florida has many critters who would enjoy a buffet menu as much as us humans......and not be so picky either.

And so we went and we ate and we watched and we felt kinda guilty about it all. That guilt lasts a few months and then, no doubt, we'll be back for another helping of food and more guilt.

Sadly life isn't fair and those who have to fight daily for a few grains of rice would stand in complete shock if they were suddenly transported to a Golden Corral. Even the concept of going to a place where you can eat and eat as much as you want would be so alien to them that they'd simply not believe such a place exists. But they do and last night it was packed. It's always packed and you can understand why.

The catchphrase "everyone deserves a good meal" is very true and laudable but when I see it on the Golden Corral site, it seems tainted somehow.

And I'm not the one standing outside with my empty rice bowl.


rhymeswithplague said...

No, no, not the Golden Coral -- coral is what you see when you go scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas. You mean the Golden Corral -- I grew up in Texas and I ought to know!

A lot of Americans being wretched, is it any wonder we go in for wretched excess???

Your post brings to mind a couple of lines penned by Robert Burns:

O wad some pow'r the giftie gie us,
To see oursels as ithers see us.

The verification word is forestin which looks an awful lot like foreskin, which word I will not pursue further.

Silverback said...

Thank you Bob. What would I do without you.

Yes I'm really thinking......

In the meantime, all my Corals have now become Corrals

Daphne said...

I have to say I loved our visit there when we were in America (I've been to America, you know!) It was so - well - American and I loved all the choice - including that they had sugar-free desserts for diabetics like me! But I'm glad that there isn't one round the corner from where I live. Far too tempting. And I do hate to see good food thrown away.

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