The roar of the hungry crowd, the hiss of meat thrown on the grill, steam rising in clouds, the clink of plates and people, flurries of them, mounds of them, milling around the eating trough and returning like pirates with their booty to their overstuffed tables to gorge themselves senseless. The world keeps spinning, the noise rises and their hunger increases and they keep eating.

All-you-can-eat buffets have sprung up everywhere across the globe and I despise them.

Why I hate them.

These sorts of buffets (not all buffets!) inculcate us with the sense that quantity is all that matters. It teaches us that all food is equal, that you can and should eat as much as you like…

So why do we? Why are there so many of them?

Because it’s easier for the restaurant owners, they need less staff, it’s less hassle, it’s so much smoother when they don’t need waiters barking orders to the kitchen staff. And it feeds into our herd psychology; people respond to the sight of people jostling to get their starters, their main dish, their desert. Then they simply must join the queue and get their pile of food before it all runs out. And it laps up our instinct to obtain as much as we can with as little as we can, even if we have one mouth to funnel it through and a single stomach to gorge.

A Land of Plenty?

I think that buffets are ultimately wasteful of food, pushing quantity before quality, driving up obesity and incredibly, if you tally up how much you pay in total for a family outing buffets are more expensive than eating at a normal restaurant. That just takes the biscuit.

We need to eat to live, but must we do it like this? I wish I could consign all-you-can-eat buffets to the rubbish tip. Unsurprisingly, that’s where most of the wasted food ends up anyway.