A vir­tual smor­gas­bord of buf­fet de­lights

Moose Jaw - - News - Joyce Wal­ter can be reached at ron­[email protected]­

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] sask­

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