There isn’t much that can be guaranteed when travelling abroad. Flight delays, security threats, freak thunderstorms or indeed the view from your bedroom window – nothing is for sure. However, wherever you are in the world on your jollies, there is one thing that’s pretty much a dead cert. In whichever hotel you are staying, be it 7* super-deluxe in Dubai, or 3* no-frills AI in Marmaris, you can rest assured that on your travels you will find yourself a good old-fashioned Buffet.
Now food is a pretty big deal for me, especially when it comes to going on holiday, and the fact that it’s all-inclusive, (let’s call it “free,”) makes it all the more appealing. Having experienced a multitude of different continental Buffets over the years, it is fair to say that some things are pretty generic. All buffets come with what can only be described as “hazards”, and once you’ve “digested” these warnings, feel free to dish up, dive in and eat until it hurts. However, if you are struggling to cope with any of the issues listed below, then I suggest you get over it quickly. Otherwise, you may have to resort to XL bags of Original flavoured Lays for breakfast, lunch and dinner or if you’re really stubborn, just starve.
Here are Ten Things You Need to Know about The Hotel Buffet:
- The queue. There is always a queue to raid The Buffet 5-10 minutes before the doors even open. Why on earth one needs to queue to simply enter The Buffet is beyond me. The only remotely plausible explanation I can surmise is in order to bag oneself the best table in the house. Aside from that, please know that neither you nor your children are going to starve. Fear not, the food is not going to run out. You will all be fed. And doubtless you will all be over-fed.
- More queues. There is inevitably a “scramble,” followed by a further queue for the fresh, made-to-order omelettes. Have you never seen an egg before? Are there not enough other tantalising breakfast options to be getting on with? Perhaps it is because this is one of only a few “made-to-order” items you will be lucky enough to encounter on the non-existent buffet “menu,” and perhaps even on your entire stay. So enjoy it whilst its hot.
- Temperature of food. Food at The Buffet may at best be tepid, at worst, cold. But don’t worry, it will still retain a fair element of taste, despite its disappointing temperature.
- Cross-contamination. If, like me, you are vegetarian on holiday, then brace yourself for the strays of bacon floating in the scrambled eggs, the Carbonara flirting with the Napoletana and the pork scratchings garnishing the vegan leaves. Equally as annoying, are the double-dipped spoons, which cross-contaminate from chicken legs to potato croquettes, spare ribs to sautéed veg. Either pretend you haven’t noticed (and wait in trepidation for the bolt of lightening to strike you down), or spend half an hour trying to explain in pidgin English what the hell fuss you’re making over a sodding serving spoon.
- Food hygiene. If you’ve chosen to spend your holiday in a #familyfriendlyresort, then be warned that there will indeed be children lurking about. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see them darting in and amongst your legs, ducking and diving in between serving stations and most grotesquely, sticking their fingers IN YOUR GD’DAM FOOD. For children don’t seem to grasp the concept of using cutlery to serve themselves (let alone to eat with), as quickly as one would hope. And with the sheer magnitude of The Buffet presenting all manner of temptations, from all-day pizza and chips, to chocolate fountain and ice-cream heaven, then any form of civilised eating is abandoned in the chaos of a sugar-induced frenzy. The safest bet is to go for the vegetables. Most normal kids won’t have touched these.
- Waste. If you are one of those people who simply cannot tolerate a solitary pea left on a child’s plate, then The Buffet is not for you. In proper buffet fashion, there are those who pick and choose a bit of this and a bit of that, and then there are those who pile their plates so high, one might well be mistaken in thinking they were saving for the return journey home. But as quickly as there are bums on seats, half-empty plates littered with discarded scraps pile up and up and up, before being whisked away by the waitress with an unforgiving glare. If you can’t stand waste, please don’t venture anywhere near The Buffet.
- Breakage. If you’re holidaying in Greece, then you won’t bat an eye at the odd smashed plate. However, rest assured that in every Buffet across the globe, there is always some form of breakage. Be it a cocky (but bloody beautiful) Turkish waiter getting giddy over the capacity of his arm to hold a dozen plates, a pissed up Shirley Valentine smashing her glass of vino, or a clumsy child dropping his entire dinner on the floor. Do not be alarmed Mum, you will not have to pay for a single broken plate.
- Boredom. However lavish the spread and however many varied Themed Nights are on offer, please be warned that you will inevitably tire of The Buffet. Forget how monotonous Mum’s cooking can be, somehow (Gd only knows how,) dining in The Buffet at breakfast, lunch and dinner can become a bit of a bore. Not to mention seeing the same old suspects cropping up again and again. Triple-cooked chips? That sounds about right.
- Eating for the sake of it. I don’t habitually do desserts. I don’t even like desserts. But hey, it’s The Buffet, so who cares! Neither do I do salad. But why not? It might make me feel better about the hefty doorstep of Black Forest Gateau I just helped myself to. To eat in The Buffet with self-restraint is an art that I haven’t mastered yet. And I can guarantee that instead of spending a few pounds, you can be sure to gain a few pounds in this “restaurant”.
- Gratuities. The poor staff who wait on us hand and foot, what do they have to gain out of our greed? There can usually be found (somewhere not very obvious) a gratuity box. Please consider leaving a tip, because if you don’t, the likelihood is that everyone else will forget too.
So in summary, I think it’s fair to say, that whilst eating in The Buffet has its many benefits, you have also been warned: Enter at your own risk!
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On holiday, the bikini-diet stops at the point of border control and recommences as soon as the plane touches down on home turf.
Basically holidaying is a bloody good excuse for a free-for-all.