I remember a few years ago two words were guaranteed to light up my face and elicit an immediate response of “I’m in!” They were ‘Mexican Buffet.’ Living in the US, I knew the comings and goings of every all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet in our city. Oh those were the days.
Now I hear the words ‘Mexican Buffet’ and I’m, well, let’s say intrigued. While on our short Alps vacation, our hotel’s restaurant put on a Mexican dinner buffet. The dinner was included with our room, and I was legitimately excited about it. My excitement grew when I saw a sign by the resto listing the per-person price at almost $65 (which is funny, since with the internet deal on our room we’d paid less than that for a room, dinner, and breakfast). I’m not gonna lie, secretly, I was expecting a bombshell dinner.
The first ones in line, we had our pick of the buffet from the start. It would turn out that the things we wanted were barely touched by the rest of the patrons. From a distance, it was a good start indeed. The display was impressive: multiple platters on differing tiers of a table full of decorations, plants, fruits, and food. Then out came the staff. They looked amusingly ridiculous in their brightly-covered woven rugs-turned cape coveralls and giant sombreros. They came and explained to us basically what a buffet was, pointed out the wine selection (a nice rose was suggested with the Mexican buffet, really?), and then released us to attack the mountain of food.
But as we approached said mountain, the excitement faded a bit. Just behind us poured in some French folk and a large group of Italian tourists. We ate burrito-ish things while they filled up on cold tomato soup (that’s spanish, not mexican), potato/olive salad (greek, maybe?), fish, cauliflower, and other French foods. I did get excited when I saw a green mush and pile of Doritos. But the green mush was basically avocado puree, not exactly guacamole. For my main dish I went for the labeled “Chile Con Carne.” It turned out to be beef tips that were in a sauce of some sort, and about as spicy as a Wendy’s frosty.
After the appetizer came the wonderful Mexican cheese spread (that’s a joke, I’m 99% sure that there’s no cheese course in Mexico, especially not one with soft and moldy cheeses from the far reaches of France). Seriously, we had a cheese course. And then dessert. You know, stuff like chocolate mousse, strawberry tarts, and chocolate cake. Real mexi-like. Ironically, I don’t remember seeing flan, which I think is the one dessert eaten in both Mexico and France. It is also one that I’ll never touch, so maybe it was there and I ignored it.
Mmmm Mexican buffet. Thanks France. Nice try. Can you stop now?
The next day as we were checking out I saw the sign go up for that night’s buffet: Italian. And less than 2 hours from the Italian border. I think we drew the short straw on dinner buffets.