Dan Patterson

Ann and I have been quiet judicious in our culinary concerns during the global COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has reeked havoc upon the time-honored tradition of eating out.

Any good Southern restaurant has fried fish buffet on Friday night. And after Sunday preaching, folks jockey for the first fruits of the local buffet.

A clean, well-stocked buffet is a thing of beauty. A two-hour-old buffet, unless carefully refreshed and replenished, is uglier than a junk yard on a rainy February day.

In a 1963 science class at Murray State, my teacher displayed a big glass jar full of golf balls. He asked if the jar was full. We all said yes.

He then proceeded to carefully fill the jar with some smooth pebbles, filling the gaps between the golf balls. Again he asked if the jar was full, and again we said yes.

Then he gently poured in fine white sand, which filled the gaps between the pebbles. Again, he received a bored  yes to his question.

Finally for his “coup de grace,” he pulled out a Pepsi. This gained the attention of even the most lethargic members of our class. He poured the entire bottle into the jar.

We learned two things. The first involved the theory of osmosis.

The second and most important fact we learned — there is always more room for food and drinks.

Now for a brief tutorial regarding today’s approach to the once-taken-for-granted buffet. A novice mistake is to randomly select an assortment of food. Previous prioritization is a must. One must establish a plan that includes his/her favorite foods.

Many people make the grievous mistake of loading up with tasteless rice and pasta. Don’t be greedy on the first trip through the buffet.

Always assess a small sample of attractive entrees just to assure they are as good as they appear.

The second journey through the buffet is the pivotal one. The seasoned buffet diner has a thorough knowledge of how much and what he/she wants. It is time to fill up with the good stuff.

When possible, choose a seat with a view of the buffet to see when new food items are brought out; be prepared to alter your eating strategy. The third and final visit back to the buffet will enable you to enjoy cake, pie or both.

Ann and I have twice visited buffets in the last six months. Each time, we have found the restaurants clean and organized. Safety precautions are good. Masks, gloves and spacing are more than adequate.

The workers in both locations were courteous and helpful in custom-filling our plates. Every effort was made to provide us with a delicious, safe dining experience.


DAN PATTERSON, who’s retired from the Paris Parks and Recreation Department, grew up near the state line and now lives in Paris. He can be reached by email at jdanpat@yahoo.com.

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