Is All You Can Eat Really that Bad?

When you’re hungry or even on a budget, the idea of eating all you can for a little more than the price of a regular meal doesn’t sound too bad. While buffets are often associated with low quality, there is also a large market for luxury buffets in places such as the Bellagio in Las Vegas, which places an emphasis on quality as well as quantity.

Tuscsn Golden Coral

Tuscsn Golden Coral

From the pizza, French fries, filet mignon and pan seared scallop to the pasta and salad bars, you can decide what, when, and how much you eat. With this many choices some people think that “ ‘You’re in control.”

Are you really in control when you eat a buffet or are you susceptible to your own passions and desires, the successful business models of buffets? Eating though buffets are apparently freeing, they are the epitome of “indulgence.” Whether you’re eating at a five star restaurant the allows you to sample some of the finest cuts of meat or at your local chain buffet that let’s you eat endless plates of fries and ice cream, you are removing yourself not only from the use of food as self-expression but also can minimize its purpose as a means of communication. There are a variety of resources available regarding the success of buffet business models and the ability to capitalize upon the gluttony of America, but less so the on the cultural significance of buffets.

As a symbol of American gluttony, which defies class, an analysis of the buffet experience could be another means of applying  Counihan’s food narratives. Is there are correlation between the emergence of the American buffet and American gluttony? Are buffets just another factor in our nations love with fast food, or do they serve as a unique a form of self-expression that allows for the development of new rituals and memories?