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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chinese Buffet with Forever Friends and Mark Sanchez

We were married in 1987 and within six months we were also expecting our first born, bought a new car and were homeowners.  I was quite young and he only 3 years older.  It was then we met our across the street neighbors who I now consider our forever friends.  9 months after our son arrived, they had their own and our boys would grow up to be lifelong friends as well.

Though we moved away (about 20 minutes drive) from them in 1996, we remain close and enjoy each other's company as individuals and couples, well, as families for that matter.  Last year, our son accompanied the father/son duo of our friends for a trip to England and so I suggested a thank you dinner at the Chinese buffet.  Why?  We used to join each other for dinner through the years at a buffet to simply catch up and spend some time together - a tradition if you will.

2012 was a tumultuous year for me and so I plan on 2013 as a year of growth, healing and appreciation.  These family friends will be by my, well, our side, before, during and after.

We are seated at a long table in the center of the dining room and one of the many joys of a buffet is the ability to eat at your own pace as well as the portion size and selection being personalized.  While most of our party is getting their food, the women catch up.

My younger son returns first with this plate:

CRAB LEGS! Yum.  We know though they will be depleted quickly and restocked slowly.  I wait by the buffet and eventually give up but my older son does return at some point with a leg for me to try.

The chicken on a stick is a favorite for the men in my life.  What is it about meat on a stick?  Does it bring out their primal, caveman tendencies?  Why is it prepared this way?  Does it offer anything to the final outcome?  Is it just tradition?  A marketing ploy? 

This is exactly what I think of when I imagine a Chinese buffet.  The only ones who thought it odd that I was photographing the food were the restaurant staff.  I smile at the image and reversal of stereotype.

I have to admit, my absolute favorite selection at the Chinese buffet is the green beans. They are ALWAYS the right crispness and I could eat them like potato chips.  They must be laced with something addictive.

I typically do not visit the dessert bar, but I have been known to take some fruit with my ice cream.  I also love those little puffy sugar coated donuts.  Why are they never with the dessert items?

My first plate, a generous helping of beans with a side of chicken and broccoli with white rice.  Boring?  Maybe, but it is exactly what I like and makes my taste buds smile.

Conversations ebb and flow.   Sometimes between just two people at the table and others are for the whole group to participate.  Bits of stories about the England trip, school age adventures, future plans and how we care for our elderly versus the treatment of inmates. 

Time to sweeten things up.  The ice cream is also self serve but the tricky bit is seeing two containers of green ice cream side by side.  I prefer pistachio and struggle to see if either container has flecks of nuts or chocolate chips.  Yes, I grabbed the "wrong" one, but it was delicious and sweet.

I brought a fortune back to the table for each of us and we were also each presented with one when our bill came.  Some were perfect and some were nonsense.  Laughter and deep thinking...part of our emotional buffet.

So, where was Mark Sanchez?  After all, he is mentioned in the post title.  Well, my husband has been a Jets fan since birth but these past few years with Sanchez and Rex have been fairly emotional for him.  He strongly blames the quarterback for the team's poor results.  I have to admit, Mark throws a fair amount of intercepted passes, but I don't ever blame one person for the results of an entire team just as I don't think it would be fair to credit only him if they were the National Champions. 

The restaurant is next door to a popular sporting goods store and since my older son and his girlfriend arrived early they went in and looked around for a bit.  When they came across the reduced priced bobble head Sanchez, my son absolutely could not resist an impromptu gift for his father.  I found the entire moment priceless.  The spontaneity, the thoughtfulness, the light heartedness and who wouldn't want to have Mark Sanchez join you, your family and forever friends as you are all Fed Well at a Chinese Buffet?

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