Fish or chicken?

I’ve been through a lot of buffet lines in my lifetime. The offerings may vary, but there is one universal constant. Someone ahead of me in line will look thoughtfully into a chaffing dish and ask, “Is this fish or chicken?”

They seem to take an inordinate amount of time pondering the nature of said mystery dish, before poking it experimentally as if they expect the meat to leap out and attach itself to their face. I should point out that this is a guy thing. When faced with the choice of fight or flight, most guys opt instead for poking.

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

In their defense, some buffet items do bear an uncanny resemblance to creatures you’d find in a Dean Koontz book. You might ask, “Why should this matter to me?” Don’t make me come over there and smack you. Do you really want to bite into a nice juicy steak, only to find out it’s last week’s catch of the day?

More and more, the food service industry must cater to a growing demographic of people whose arteries will clog up from just looking at gravy. Caterers are forced to serve meat that is gray, skinless, boneless, and flavorless.

Let’s break it down for those of you with the culinary IQ of the average kidney bean.

  • Is it coated with a thick layer of bread crumbs? Fish
  • Is it slightly watery when you lift it out of the dish? Fish
  • Is there a bowl of lemon wedges sitting next to the tray? Fish
  • Does it look like a giant squid? Alien creature

Everything else is either chicken or cocktail weenies. Differentiating between the two is beyond the scope of this course.

Next time you’re in the buffet line, you can confidently assure your fellow diners that they are not eating liver, tripe, or road kill. Just be sure to keep the tongs handy in case you see something that looks like squid.