Taped to the door was a sign of the Apocalypse: "Grand Buffet, Rohnert Park, R.I.P."
My son and I were crestfallen.
I had raised him in the tradition of our people, the Vikings, teaching him the virtues of aimless aggression, hockey, a disinterest in real estate and, of course, the joys of large piles of meat. Our ancestors did not invade Scotland simply to announce, "We'll take 72 garden salads and split a dessert." This was something Grand Buffet understood.
It was a place that knew how to throw down a manly feast. Fried chicken. Fried fish. Roast beef. Sausage that may or may not have been someone's pet. Spend an hour there, and you'd have enough fuel to row the North Atlantic, conquering stuff for the next three years. We always left satiated, our chest hairs enriched by 73 percent.
My family had been going to joints like this for years. But recently my wife and daughters--henceforth known as the race traitors--refused to go. The food wasn't very good, they complained, as if this was even an issue. For as aficionados of edible fuel well know, food is best measured in volume.
So maybe the Grand had a tendency to overcook and underflavor. Maybe you imagined its meat buyer standing silent at an auction, waiting till everyone else had bid, then purchasing the remainders in bulk. Maybe you knew the green beans were canned in Olathe, Kan., in 1962, then fermented like fine whiskey.
What you also knew was that behind the swinging doors, you'd find nobody named Marcel who called himself "chef." His name was Mac. Learned how to peel potatoes in the Navy, so our fighting boys had enough energy to load a TOW missile. Called himself a cook. Proud of it.Perhaps the race traitors didn't appreciate his work, but decent Americans did. The widowers and grandmas would arrive by late afternoon for the senior special. The young families and immigrant clans would follow, speaking languages you couldn't quite place. There would be softball teams and the requisite supply of fat guys. Fabulous had a name. It was called the Grand Buffet.
As we stood outside the doors of this shuttered temple, I wished to weep, but Vikings only cry when decapitated by broadsword. So we stumbled away like beaten mules.
I blame the foodies.
Surely you've met these people, with their exterior of warmth and intelligence. They endlessly rhapsodize about fine food as if it were something important, like the Second Coming or a playoff game. But inside lurks an insidiousness as dark as Satan's colon. They're trying to ruin America, one caper rémoulade at a time. The evidence:
1. My daughter turned vegetarian. Needless to say, she will not be invited the next time we invade Iceland.
2. I recently ordered fish at a bar. It was 2-by-2 inches, served on a really big plate, with some chopped-up weeds splattered around to make it look pretty. Fifteen bucks. At a bar, for chrissakes!
3. Their propaganda arm, the Food Network, spends 24 hours a day bragging up recipes for Parmesan-piqued pommes frites and classic cassoulet in a dastardly plot to kill the pot-pie industry.
Normally, we'd pay such people no heed. This is the land of the free. We already tolerate Andy Dick. What's another irritant? But the foodies hate buffets--unless you call 'em "brunch" and make the cooks wear white jackets and funny hats. They've declared jihad on buffets in an attempt to soil their good name and make you feel like a degenerate or a congressman for partaking.
Meet Elaine Cicora. She was recently feted in New York at the James Beard Awards, which are the foodies' version of the Oscars, only with way less hair product. "The all-you-can-eat buffet is one of the most egregious examples available of Americans' obsession with overconsumption," she says. "A messy, boorish chow-down where quantity counts for everything, and quality counts for nothing. Certainly, it sets the whole idea of culinary artistry back to the Stone Age."
But what she's really trying to say is "I hate old people and can't stand to see the joy a child gets from a plate of chicken, bacon bits and jello."
Because that's what this is really about, isn't it? The foodies want to turn this country into France or Yountville, where we all sit around yammering about crème brûlée. But to do so, they must starve off the elderly, the immigrants, the families and the fat guys. So they whacked the Grand.
But this war isn't over. The foodies may have taken out a weak flank in Rohnert Park. But we've established an impenetrable beachhead in a citadel of decency: Fairfield.
Out in Fairfield sits a Hometown Buffet, a national chain that knows how to serve up the vittles. On a weekday afternoon, the place is pleasantly stocked with grandmas, guys from the 7 to 3 shift, and a local baseball team. Placards featuring delectable meat scenes hang from the drop ceiling. Soothing '80s hits, heavy on the Kenny G sax, play over counters brimming with fried meat and noodles. Those in Fairfield know that when this feast is done, they will feel no hunger for 36 days. And there's not a damn thing the foodies can do about it.
For as William Wallace once said, "They may take our lives, but they will never take our buffet!"
While the old-fashioned smorgy barely exists, there are still plenty of buffets that serve their fair share of fried meats
Fuzhou Super Buffet 6090 Redwood Blvd., Ste. H, Novato. 415.899.1668.
Fouzhou II 450 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa; 707.523.7000.
Gourmet Garden 100 S. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma. 707.778.3899.
Hometown Buffet Gateway Blvd., 1315 Gateway Blvd., Fairfield. 707.428.6000.
J K's Four Seasons Buffet 595 Rohnert Park Expressway W., Rohnert Park. 707.588.8629.
King Buffet 2131 County Center Drive, Santa Rosa. 707.576.8388.
Panda Buffet 2005 Novato Blvd., Novato. 415.892.0872.
Panda Palace 1202 W. Steele Lane, Santa Rosa. 707.535.0404.
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