When you hear the word, "buffet," you may think of the eating counter at restaurants where usually one can eat as much as one wishes ... for a fixed price. Well, that's certainly true, and that is one meaning of "buffet," but to me, a real buffet is a piece of furniture that I will explain later.
I looked forward to one day inheriting my grandmother's buffet. If I had it now, it would be a real antique, because more than 50 years ago, it was old then, but after she passed away, her house burned to the ground, and with it went my long-anticipated dining room buffet. But on that sad note, I can still conjure up some happy memories of that handsome, sturdy, versatile piece of kitchen furniture piled mile-high with all kinds of mouth-watering foods. Though Grandmother never had much by worldly standards, she still had a certain sense of pride (in whatever she did) that I, to this day, admire. She did things well and thoughtfully and practically, especially her cooking, and food (perhaps everybody's favorite subject) is mine too.
Most old-timers like me are familiar with a buffet, and I think the one Grandmother had is similar to those that existed then. Anyway, her long, black buffet sat about two feet off the floor – held up by at least four strong, stately legs. Large cooking items were stored underneath and the china, flatware, cups and saucers were stored in one of the many drawers that held her nicer eating and serving things – things that she only used for special occasions.
This long, handsome buffet appeared to take up about half of the dining room, and to me, it was a fine piece of furniture. That's why I looked forward to one day inheriting this beauty to complement the table and chairs in my own little nook. Anyway, so much for that, because the part I'm most interested in is the top – the part that held those delicious holiday and church dinner dishes. I might find special treats on the buffet throughout the year, but whenever the holidays rolled around, Grandmother cooked just like any other country woman, and like most women, she loved to display her fit-for-a-king, "blue ribbon" prize dishes, and more than her desire to display what she'd cooked was my desire to see the top of that buffet spread with her finest and the best.
Let's see. What was there? There were probably four-layer "some kind of" cakes, tea cakes were there for sure and not the little, puny, scrawny kinds I see today – the kind you can almost see through, but hers were the big, tasty, moon-size, melt-in-your-mouth ones, and then there was sweet potato pie and fried peach and apple pies, and she made the best fried pies in the world. The other dishes that had to stay warm were stored in the Dutch oven, but the buffet held mostly the sweet stuff, which is what we kids wanted above and beyond anything else.
It was always a special treat to see Grandma's homemade bakery items sprawled across the top of her Buffet. Although her fare does not compare with displays in today’s home and garden magazines, still, her table top was sumptuously spread, and the best part of all is that we didn't have to pay one red cent in order to chow down. Her offerings were ours just for the asking, and as soon as she gave us permission, we dug into those sweet, delicious, tempting treats ... and boy were they umm, umm, good!