Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The Egg at the Buffet
I shuffled into the crowded, dark lobby of the hotel. Between my photochromic lenses and everyone's fluffy winter coats and scarves it took me a few seconds to locate our small party in the corner. The smell of Thanksgiving in the next room mingled with perfume and chatter as I squeezed through the throng, guiding my small son. My husband followed us, half carrying and half wrestling our wide-eyed toddler.
For the last three years we've been meeting my husband's family at this hotel to celebrate Thanksgiving. The rich hues in the carpet hide the food the baby throws, there are no food allergies to cater to, no cooking, no dishes afterward. It's ideal for our situation. Everything is worry-free. But there are these EGGS. For three years they've haunted my wandering mind on and off.
As our group is being seated, I try to casually glance over at the salad buffet. There it is. Not a plate full of deviled eggs, or even a bowl full of some egg salad. The EGG. But there's TWO of them this year! Two giant, shiny, white eggs with little cornucopia decorations on one side. There they sit, the weird eggs, sitting in a bed of...what-the-hell-is-that-jello. I'm sweating. Surely that's not decoration, I think again. First of all it's really ugly if it's solely decorative, and secondly, what do eggs have to do with Thanksgiving? It has to be an exotic FOOD. I hope it's cheese. A giant exotic egg of cheese. It should be cheese!
The anticipation of what I now look at as my quest keeps me from focusing on normal dinner conversation. I know I can't go on another year wondering. I know what I must do.
I decide my best plan is to eat salad first so I can investigate them up-close again. Last year after our meal, I called the hotel manager (like a normal person) to inquire about the giant buffet eggs (like you do). They sent me a very brief message that the "chef made the eggs, and they are edible". The crazy thing is, no one else must have known what they were either. They always remained intact. Not even a nibble. If they were edible, that must hurt his feelings that no one eats them, right? Or maybe they are exotic cheese, and he and the staff secretly take leftovers home if they don't get eaten...
Anyway, with salad under my belt, and a satisfying dinner making me regret wearing a belt, I saunter up to the buffet. I felt it prudent to eat first, just in case they kick me out. I muster my most thoughtful look (which unfortunately kinda resembles "duck face") as I unwrap a butter knife from it's silverware packet. My husband, who has always been very supportive, informed me that while he was chasing the toddler around the restaurant earlier, he noticed a "weak spot" on the other side of the egg. Some brave soul, God bless them, had tried to spoon a little helping of mystery egg onto their plate. I found the spot in no time.
With my eyes on my prize, I shoved the butter knife right into the thing. It felt strangely crunchy...slowly little folds of white began to peel away...revealing...a watermelon? I kept going. I've come to far to quit now. "Keep sawing," I said to myself.
Meanwhile, an elderly woman came up to me to watch. "We've been sitting here wondering about that all through dinner. We thought maybe it wasn't to be eaten since there were no serving utensils with it."
Bless her heart, I wanted to point out that three years of curiosity cannot be corked by a lack of serving spoons, or the simple fact that the weird bowl of what-the-hell-is-that-pink-jello right next to the egg had TWO spoons in it (and so some dolt used The EGG spoon for the wrong dish). I could not plead my case and insist that this was surely too ugly to be a decoration, because, well...it kinda looked like something my grandma would decorate with...BUT FOR EASTER. I just kept sawing, and replied lamely, "Well, I asked the waitress, and she said it was edible."
As it turns out, I didn't get kicked out of the restaurant that day with my husband and children in tow. It seemed the waitstaff didn't even notice. The only people that noticed, according to my family waiting at the table, were the other 200 people that came to eat the buffet that day, as they were all staring at me. Now staring at me for my audacity or for their own curiosity about The EGG, we will never know.