A virtual smorgasbord of buffet delights
As I sat musing during a writer’s block moment the other day, the extraordinary thought process got underway and for some reason this process swept me along to a table of food and what it should be called.
I have no idea from where the question came but I asked myself at that moment: when did the term “smorgasbord” get devoured by the term “buffet?”
In my growing-up years a country table laden with a variety of foods was called a “potluck supper,” not to be confused with the sandwiches and sweets served at dances in the community hall. They were simply midnight lunches and bore no relationship to potluck, that being when community residents brought enough food to feed their own family, plus one other. The food was laid out starting with salads and main courses and ending with pies and cakes and fudge and other delights to tickle the taste buds.
My Dad often referred to such occasions as hoping to have the “good luck” not to get food from a kitchen “pot” that hadn’t been cleaned properly before it was For Moose Jaw Express brought forth to have its contents shared by the community. He was always shushed to avoid his comments being heard by anyone who might have been responsible for the offensive “pot.”
It wasn’t until Moose Jaw restaurants began advertising Saturday and Sunday smorgasbords that I wondered how they differed from hearty country fare at potluck suppers. And then after a few decades of smorgasbords, we suddenly became overtaken by “buffet” meals, with smorgasbords only being referred to when related to a dinner featuring Swedish dishes.
Being somewhat puzzled as to when and why this transition of terms took place, I turned to my usually-reliable www source where I learned that in today’s terms, the titles are somewhat interchangeable, both meaning an offering of a variety of hot and cold meats, salads, hor d’oeuvres, etc. In the true smorgasbord fashion, diners would be expected to visit the food table five different times, eating different foods at each visit. The term “buffet” became popular in the latter half of the 20th century, with no apparent need to eat different foods each trip, nor being expected to load up five times.
Wouldn’t you know it, there are rules for patronizing an all-you-can-eat buffet table at a restaurant: wear loose clothing to accommodate the amount of food one is likely to consume; eat the expensive food first, such as steak, shrimp, lobster or prime rib; and use a din- ner plate or a soup bowl for dessert so as to get one’s share in case the desserts are not replenished. In a private home, buffet rules are based on making sure not to show any form on gluttony in case the hostess runs short of food.
A restaurant that runs out of food or doesn’t replenish the serving dishes will soon earn a black mark on social media, or via other word-of-mouth ratings. A private hostess will not face such public criticism because money does not change hands.
A good rule of thumb, my sources say, is to arrive early so the food is fresh, hot and in abundant supply. The lettuce salads should be crisp, not wilted or brown around the edges. Three leaves at the bottom of the bowl does not constitute much of a salad.
Another rule is to walk around the entire buffet area to scope out what is available then fill plates and bowls appropriately. If the beef looks overcooked and dry, maybe an extra perogy or second spoon off the salad bar might be in order. And if there are no crackers or seafood forks for the crab legs, bypass them for the safety of others at the table. Flying crab leg shells could be dangerous.
So there you have it: a smorgasbord of rules for not over-indulging at public and private buffets. You’re welcome! Back in the day when Wayne Tardif and Myles Werklund were a lot younger, they played cribbage many nights for entertainment.
Tiring of the game, they invented a new cribbage board game, starting a 30-year chase of big-time success for the former Assiniboia residents.
Werklund had already invented a board game based on the Canadian Football League and had seen his creation rejected by a board game company.
All this happened when Trivial Pursuit was at the height of its popularity and wannabee inventors were churning out 1,000 new board games a year hoping to cash in on the rage.
Undaunted by what they didn’t know, the duo did the trade show circuit selling and promoting the Cribbage Board Game. They did okay, repaying a $5,000 loan in two years.
But there were bumps along the road like the inquisitive lady at one trade show. Weeks after that trade show, they received a letter from a lawyer ordering them to cease and desist because they were infringing on a competing cribbage board game’s copyright.
After obtaining a copy of the competitor’s rules they informed him there was no copyright infringement. They never heard back.
Another bump came when they licensed the game to a manufacturer, only to see that company go under.
They kept on in the spirit of entrepreneurs. Their latest change was the name, now called Screw You Cribbage — an attempt to draw more attention in stores that carry the game.
Tardif and Werklund, now respectively living in Emerald Park and Calgary, did another big trade show at Agribition this year.
Werklund demonstrated the game, playing against a 12-year-old, who pegged the first score — a nine on a board six spot. Each player is dealt 12 cards; each takes three, playing them on the board and replenishing from the initial 12 cards. Players still make runs, pairs and 15-2s, but just do it on the board.
Ron Walter can be reached at ron[email protected] sasktel.net