John B Keane: The buffet type can spoil your appetite

In my time I have attended innumerable functions where there have been meals of one kind of another.

In my time I have attended innumerable functions where there have been meals of one kind of another.

For many years I have been opposed to conventional type meals such as sitting down to a four course dinner where one often had to wait for long periods before the next course appeared on the table.

These long, or rather seemingly long, delays would often irritate me and I would look around impatiently in the direction of an overworked waiter or waitress, as if they were to blame for the whole thing.

As a result of these orthodox occasions I was delighted with the first running buffet I attended.

There was no waiting and all one had to do was to go to a table filled with portions of the various items available. Consequently, when I would get an invitation to attend some function I always looked to see if it were a stand-up or sit-down affair.

If it were one of the latter I always did my best to attend and if it were one of the former I would make the wife do the dirty work, that is to say she would write or ring to say I was sick.

One will imagine then that I am still enamoured of the buffet and have the same dislike for conventional meals. Nothing, believe me, could be further from the truth. When I first fell in love with the running buffet I reckoned without the buffet type.

Many of my readers will have no idea of what a buffet type is like. I had, therefore, better enlighten the dear reader.

A buffet type is a man who is always seen to be eating or if he is chockful of free grub he will have a glass in his hand.

The same applies to the female of the species except that they look deceptively innocuous and are capable of consuming huge quantities of food and liquor which completely belie their size.

The buffet type will have made three or four rounds successfully to the table where the food is displayed while others are still struggling to attract the attention of a waiter or waitress.

It is a gift, which if selfish in itself, is still valuable and rare and it ensures that the buffet type and his friends will have plenty to eat even if others starve in the process.

Normally the buffet type is neither a big nor a fast feeder. At home he eats barely enough. It is when faced with tablefuls of free food that the worst is likely to break out in him.

The operative word here is FREE. It has to be free if it is do the buffet type any good. Some students of the subject insist that he is not the great danger to society that people like myself think he is.

They insist that because of his avarice he will eventually die at an early age having fed himself to death. I disagree because they always look disgustingly healthy whenever I bump into them.

Let me now instruct the reader in the more devious ploys of the buffet type. The most arresting thing about him or about her, as the case may be, is the look of absolute innocence on the face.

Here is a kisser that looks everywhere but at the tables. One would never dream that the owner of such a face was contemplating eating five or six helpings of everything in sight.

There is a refreshing absence of guile and greed on the face but if you watch its owner carefully you will see that he eats at least twice as much as a man of similar years and proportions.

It is only lately that I have taken to studying buffet types. It was a study brought about by necessity, because I so often found myself without food at running buffets that I decided on an investigation.

The classic gambit, of course, of all buffet types is work with a partner, who in almost all cases is the wife.

Let us imagine that all the guests have arrived and that there is a bristling scurry for food. I find myself at the head of the line quite by accident. The waiter accepts my plate and I point out the items I want.

At this stage I am tugged by the coat and I turn around to see a woman I vaguely know. She manages to force me away from the table and all of a sudden someone else has my place. I am forced to converse with her for a period. Suddenly her husband appears with two heaped plates of food. It immediately dawns on me that he is the man who took my place.

The wife created a diversion to enable him get near the table. I was a sucker of the moment. The two started to eat at once and I was now completely ignored.

Suddenly the wife looked up between bites and asked, “Why aren’t you eating? This is gorgeous.”