John versus Food

The following is the story of how I ended up trying to eat this:wpid-imag2157.jpg

I am a big fan of Joey “Jaws” Chesnut and all the folks at MLE (Major League Eating to the uninitiated), I have been for a few years since I had setanta sports and they showed the July 4th hotdog eating contest from Coney Island on ESPN America. Of course, there is also Adam Richmond and his tv show Man versus Food which I enjoyed on Dave before he stopped being a mad fat eating machine after giving up doing the challenges, at which point you had seen all the episodes anyway. The combination of these two things resulted in me, like a whole host of men, fancying their chances in belly bursting challenges. Preferably one where the prize is you picture on the wall of the restaurant to show your munching prowess.

Enter stage left my next door neighbour Gary who took on a eating challenge to eat ten hot wings in the quickest possible time. He dismantled the record to the tune of shaving about 8 minutes off it and effectively retired the contest. He then went back to try the next incarnation of the wings challenge and got his arse handed to him and he bowed out of competition eating saying never again. Still proud of him though.

wpid-image-802682c20e896a2b14fc134b8841642739c343d2e610800d5d7e11cc4affe1ca-v.jpgThe connection is that he made me aware of the 2.5lb burger challenge in The Brooklyn Cafe in Shawlands, Glasgow, the place the wings challenge he was involved in was done and from there I said I fancied doing it.

But then didn’t do anything about it. Just talked about it for ages and ages until we went to give my wife’s cousin and her future husband (now actual husband) their wedding present, we chatted how they were going to go grub daft post wedding when no dress or kilt needed fitting into, it was now that the burger challenge came up and Alan the husband to be was well up for. Plans were made and 6 weeks after the wedding on Saturday the 7th of June we were booked in, man versus man versus beefburger. And that was that.

I have to say I was looking forward to it. I told people I would be happy if I could eat half of it but between you and I there was the image that played over in my head of me polishing up the remaining morsels and sauce with the last hunk of bread, dabbling the corners of my mouth with a napkin and throwing that on the plate amid the cheers and adulation of the crowd. Standing I would raise my arms in triumph.

wpid-imag2165.jpgIn reality it ended ten minutes early with both myself and Alan sitting with our elbows on our knees, face in hands in real discomfort trying to avoid eye contact with the remaining burgers. In fact alan wasn’t even at the table. He had moved to another to keep away.

Of course I had done some training, the pre match build up for that first hotdog eating championship I watched gave me a few gems that have stuck with me, one was that slim folk have an advantage in such things as there isn’t as much fat on them which restricts the amount your stomach can expand to allow more in, plus the top athletes chew multiple bits of chewing gum in their mouth at the same time to build up their jaw power (apparently some of the MLE’s biggest names have the same pounds per square inch of power in their jaws as alsation dogs) so I did that for a fortnight. Not too much tho, didn’t want bug overdeveloped jowls looking like I had the mumps, but by the same token I didn’t want my quest to finish the burger hampered by a tired mouth when my belly was willing to take more.

So we sat down, and ordered our two extra toppings, I took fried onions and gherkins, Alan onions and sauteed mushrooms, apparently these were the best for attempting to finish the challenge, least eating involved and could act as lubricant for forcing down some bread or something. I don’t know really, at least they weren’t onion rings or chips which were other options. When the burgers came out it was effectively game over. I had nipped upstairs to the bathroom as I was worried that the thing that would stop me from winning would be that I would need a pee within two hours so I had a quick one before we started. Our table was at the bottom of the stairs and it looked enormous from the top step which I stopped on post pee. The pictures online hadn’t done it justice at all, it just got bigger and bigger as I got closer, no chance.

wpid-image-f888accb49f94c1f262dcc746f6259a4fa0b2cd14e1a42f5daaf5d5971131641-v.jpgWe kicked off, Alan opted for the tactic of eating the lid of the roll with the onions and mushrooms, getting that out of the way first, I ate it like a burger, roll and meat together, wee bit of tomato sauce. It was bloody brilliant (i would recommend the Brooklyn Cafe for a meal and in particular their regular sized burgers, it’s the same recipe they use for them and the monster I was eating and it was, as I say, bloody brilliant) and hopes rose that maybe just maybe it was acheivable. Alan was flying but i was making my own progress too. Then after fifteen minutes I was pretty much full. If it was a normal meal i would have been finished there I would say. But this wasn’t a normal meal so I battled on. Half an hour in though and the strain was showing, my chest had broke out into a wee stress rash and progress was slowing down. I would say I was about halfway through but a big chunk of the bun was sitting still to be eaten.

I say bun, it’s more like a loaf cut in half than a tradional roll. A brioche bun (or loaf) no less. Which seems to be all the rage in burger circles now. The seaseme seed bap a thing of the past.

Forty minutes in and we both had our phones out trying to do something that would take the edge off the discomfort. What has happened is that the idea of eating a whole loaf seemed like the real test in this when I fact it was the taste of the meat which was our undoing. After a point it became impossible to put in your mouth as it tasted like burger. Ordinarilly not a bad thing, as I have mentioned a really good burger served in here, but having ate so much of it in the short period of time a wee rest was needed.wpid-imag2161.jpg

wpid-image-c6d85ef559046be037ed2090ef76dad06468e2f8d89f2faf102959d7178f95e6-v.jpgActually, Alan was pretty much done at that. He never went back to his. I kept going but very very slowly. Had a bit more meat and attempted the “dipping the bread in water” trick which you see on man versus food and the cometitive eating circuit. It actually works and I got through a bit more. Not a lot mind you, if all I had left was bread then I would have happily had aright good go at slurping away at soggy bread but since I had about a third or so of the rest of it, it seemed pointless to eat the sweet roll.

And, well, that was that I guess. We saw out the time and failed in our attempts. No pictures on the wall, not even a tshirt. It really is a mammoth task, a total ordeal. So repetitive. To eat the same thing for so long, that same taste. I ended up ordering Coca Cola toward the end to put some other taste in my mouth, even though i had steered clear so not to bag myself up on the fizzy juice. I actually felt delerious during it. Almost like I was drunk. Or maybe not so much drunk, more like an afternoon in the T in the Park campsite with a bottle of poppers. Every bite had me giggling like a wean.

Ach, it was a valiant attempt if I don’t say so myself, and like Gary before me I decided to hang up my knife and fork and said never again.


Unless of course one pops up where its amounts of packets of crisps in half an hour, I am up for that, or pot noodles in an hour, aye, pot noodles in an hour……….

A Diary in 53 Parts: Part 7: Week 6

Sunday 5th February

The prospect of a trip to Ikea with a hangover leaves me in a quandry, on one hand the drive up could be to much for my fragile state and on the other the prospect of a hot dog party if and when i get there to soak up the booze is tempting. Ultimately the decision isnt mine and the wife decides that we are going so we go and i get filled up on Ikeas wonderful cuisine. Dont know if i have mentioned it on here before but just in case i havent, i think that ikea have upped there game again on the hot dog front after a spell where they were rotten. My only gripe is that the mustard always seems to be on the blink or almost done when i am there, even though its not as popular as tomato sauce. Just an observation. qwhat they need to do is get in touch with Ikea in Etobicoke, Toronto and find out how to get sweet green relish over here because that stuff is the bloody bomb. In fact Toronto for me is the hotdog capital of the world but maybe i will elaborate on that in a seperate blog post….anyway, another thing i noticed walking around ikea is that some of their staff have some stoating hairdos. Real belters which would take some amount of blow drying and product to produce, but then they are teamed up with that weird yellow colour their uniform and you wonder why all the effort.

Its Super Bowl Sunday today which means its two years since i made a complete show of myself at my one and only Super Bowl party i have ever attended over in Canada. I dont know whether I am ready to own that particular story just yet by writing it down, though I did tell someone it last week for the first time and the version (story included roaring “cunt” at the top of my voice in company, not eating, guys getting grabbed by the throat, boozing a lot, waking up with no memory and other vignettes) i told got a laugh so maybe its time to get it down, however i did use the word “version” which may allude to the fact that maybe i hold some details back and to be honest i did. On the Super Bowl, i went to bed to to watch it with the plan to fall asleep with the tv on so that if i fell asleep then woke and caught five minutes here and there it would class as watching it. I saw Kelly Clarkson sing the national anthems and fell fast asleep mind you, woke up to the tv off.

Monday 6th.

Wake up for work at my usual time and instantly regret my laziness and not going for a Sunday night shower. Feel horrible but dont like my morning routine messed up so decide just to grin and bear it, man the fuck up and just wash my face and douse myself in deodorant and go to work like an old fashioned savage.*

*maybe an exageration in terms of description of pretty much everything.

It was a long day so it was, mostly due to the dawning realisation that this was the second half of a two day hangover, but once the working was done i got home, had a shower and settled down for the last fifteen minutes of Pointless. In that fifteen minutes i managed two pointless answers and my chest swelled with such pride. Time to get in on that action i think and application to get on the show is going in, as much for the chance of winning the dosh on the back of my knowledge of obscure answers to regular questions as it is for the opportunity to be in the same room as the guy who has all the answers and prove to some folk that we look nothing alike.

Tuesday 7th.

Cant remember.

Wednesday 8th.

Watching Pointless again today and a round based on boyband members names strikes a blow to my plan to take home the cash. With that being used today its unlikely to be used again if and when i get on which is a shame as i pride myself on hate myself for my knowledge of the subject. Its just one of those things that has came out of reading look in as a kid (then Smash Hits (slaps hand over face)) and having a younger sister who liked boyband music growing up. That and a strage ability to hold info like that in my mind like they are football players and still be able to draw on the knowledge. Spike, Jimmy and Lee are 911 and whether you beleive it or not, i knew that without checking wikipedia. I have that sort of thing in my arsenal. Its quite a weapon.

Thursday 9th.

for breakfast i ate Red Berries Vitality which is asdas own Special K. Its quite nice but next week i am going back to my old favourite of Kellogs Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes (now just called Crunchy Nut for some reason). Before i got into the vitality i got something called snow puffs. if your not aware of this delight then i shall explain, it is the Honey Monsters favourites Sugar Puffs with some wee dods of meringue scattered in for a white look. Absolutely rotten. The meringue i hoped would be like the wee colourful bits in Lucky charms so would go soft and be a nice wee sugar rush in the early morning, sadly it wasnt and those wee white bits stayed hard and felt weird on your teeth as you chewed them. Big thumbs down. i actually tried eating round them after a few days which wasnt as easy as i thought to begin with.

Apart from that cereal excitement it was a quiet day.

Oh, apart from the fact that i watched Mad Dogs in real time when it was on the tv, an achievement in itself.

Friday 10th.

Down in Liverpool for a funeral. Was in two minds about trying a pint of mild in pub after it, ultimately i bottled the opportunity and so it will be next time in England at the earliest i try it..

Saturday 11th.

This morning i found myself in Kilmarnocks forgate for the first time in years. While i was there i did some things i havent done in an eaven longer time. 1. I used an actual butchers and 2. i went in the pet shop. A few points from these two things, the sight of that watery blood in the empty and half empty trays in the butchers gives my the boke but at the same time i cant avert my eyes, the butchers sells everything (you can buy a big lump of pork and a can of red kola at the same time), the pet shop isnt as good as it was when i was younger, mostly because i am certain they had dogs and cats back then which i suppse were wortha  look at. Now its just wee tiny snakes, fish and gerbils, rabbits and hamsters. A hamster costs a mere £8.50. I kind of think that seems weirdly cheap, like if you lost one or dropped it down the stairs it can be easily replaced for under a tenner. sobering thought. While up in that neck of the woods I also found out that the Queens cafe is no longer called that. A regualr haunt back when i was in first year at the academy even all these years later i remember the old italian lady with the drawn on eyebrows selling me my friday chip roll. Golden Arrow is still called the Golden Arrow though and we got fritters.

Went to the football in the afternoon, was a good game.