Mrs. SC's birthday comes up in a few days, and tomorrow, we're going for brunch with her parents. As of this writing, though, the question of where remains outstanding. So this post is prompted by a conversation we just had about a possible destination:
Mrs. SC: I don't want to go to the Flying Feast ([not its real name, but it's by an airport -- ed.]) because I don't want an all-you-can-eat buffet. I feel like it means "eat all you can".
SC: But if you ate less, it wouldn't be an all-you-can-eat buffet. It would be an "all-you-feel-like-eating" buffet.
Mrs. SC: No, it would be an "all-you-would-eat" buffet.
So which is it? SC readily buys into the idea that it can't be an all-you-can-eat buffet if you don't eat all you can, but it might not be the case that you eat all you would if you could specify the amount of food in advance. Maybe you're on a diet, and wish there would be some externally-imposed portion control. Or maybe you go out with other people (who goes to a buffet alone?), and feel like you eat less than you otherwise would because you don't want the other people thinking you're a pig. No single modal verb seems to cover all this, though, in any tense -- not "can", not "will", not "shall". Not "could", not "would", not "should".
But somebody would have a great tag line for a competitor to Souplantation if they used the slogan "The all you should eat buffet".