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Buffets
A buffet is a meal-serving system where patrons serve themselves. It is a popular method of feeding large numbers of people with minimal staff. One form of buffets is to have a line of food serving stalls and foods and customers take food they require as they walk along and pay at the end. This form is most commonly seen in cafeterias. Another form known as the "all you can eat" buffet has a set fee and customers can help themselves to as much food as they wish to eat. This form is found often in restaurants, especially in hotels; virtually every casino in North America includes one, with some being very elaborate.
History of Buffets
It is said that the modern buffet has its roots in 18th century France. It was originally used for a sideboard where dishes were kept but soon gained popularity as a form. In England, the term gained significance only in the second half of the 19th century. For the aristocrats, eating was a royal affair, a chance to display the royal wealth in gold plates and jewel crusted jugs and thus buffets were held regularly as a means of display of wealth.

The term all-you can eat-buffet was first used by Herb Macdonald, a Las Vegas hotel manager who introduced the idea in 1946. He is known to have said about Las Vegas buffets, “At midnight every self-respecting casino premières its $1.50 buffet—the eighth wonder of the world, the one true art form this androgynous harlot of cities has delivered herself of.... We marvel at the Great Pyramids, but they were built over decades; the midnight buffet is built daily. Crushed-ice castles and grottoes chill the shrimp and lobster. Sculptured aspic is scrolled with Paisley arabesques. They are, laid out with reverent artistry: hors d'oeuvres, relish, salads, and sauces; crab, herring oyster, sturgeon, octopus, and salmon; turkey, ham, roast beef, casseroles, fondues, and curries; cheeses, fruits and pastries. How many times you go through the line is a private matter between you and your capacity, and then between your capacity and the chef's evil eye.”

The Modern Buffet
Although looked down upon by many gourmands today, buffets continue to do well. From high-end hotels, to restaurants, they’ve even found way into our homes. Its common to se a house party set up a makeshift buffet. It saves the hostess a lot of trouble and lends an informal, and comfortable touch to the gathering. Though at home, the buffet has its limitations, serving food that is to be eaten with knives is a total no-no as most guests would stand and eat. Therefore, serve finger food or food that can easily be eaten with a single spoon.

Some of the popular buffet restaurants in the United States are HomeTown Buffet, which is a large buffet chain, and part of the larger Buffet Inc. corporation, and also owns Old Country Buffet, Country Buffet, and Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse.


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