Time is a great thing when reflection is concerned. There are reflections of past travels, how far competitive eating has taken me and changed a once fickle, shy, and chubster kid into a promising young glutton that will one day be able to call himself a man. Hopefully being able to grow some decent facial hair and not need to use just for men formula to color it. As well as top the 50 hot dog and 100 Krystal barrier.
I owe a lot to eating, a slight boost in my bank roll and having little responsibilities to name. It's kind of messed up being able to live the dream of being a professional eater. The amount wasted on partying and eating out is more than most people should spend. I will have no gripes or bad memories to name when I'm on my death bed and competitive eating is discussed. When asked what I'll do with the winnings I may take the high road and claim it's going towards my pizza place, Baptista's(after my Italian grandfather). In all honesty I will likely spend it on travels around the world eating at the best restaurants. There are some that find comfort in expensive furnishings, toys, property, and bmw convertibles (Joey Chestnut has one sweet ass ride)/ mid life crisis mobiles/ penis extenders. For me, experiences are what they will go towards; making a detour to the uk to eat at some restaurants is not anything I would think twice about. Knowing no stone or continent went unturned and that a solid effort in making a dent in the world's delicacies is a feat I aspire to accomplish.
Out of all senses my taste is the most deeply embedded into my dna and forces an unhealthy and voracious obsession. Food memories go back to as a kid cooking pancakes in my underwear and trying out new omelet fillings(my favorite, a 6 egg omelet stuffed with a can of chef boy rd beef ravioli. Finish it in the oven so it's not cold in the middle and to curb the faint botulistic flavors).
Moving on to my trip to the Czech Republic, is there anything more ludicrous than a music festival wanting to fly you out to Europe to eat in a couple competitions? I refused to believe that this trip was taking place as me getting exited about prospects leads to distress. I.e., getting all riled up for a Jeff Foxworthy game show and it goes down in flames. So when I settled into my lot airlines seat headed to Warsaw it was an acme anvil lifted from my cranium and consciousness. This meant that the one they call patricio el drunko pina colada el diablo pollo loce tengo muy intoxicato deep dish black out bertoletti may be kind of a draw when it comes to eating contests. (Don't try and copy that name I'm in the process of getting it trademarked and changing my birth certificate). It would also mean that people in another country would enjoy my bad taxi driver, sex pistols, used to be hip but is now reserved for Mexicans, the trendy, and white trash but will be cool again in 3 years haircut. Did I mention a majority of hiptrendster d bags from Los Angeles too? They actually wanted me to show off my skills, does life get any better than this? What suckers? I celebrated this realization with 3 Tylenol pm. I wanted to enjoy this new found appreciation in as groggy a state as possible. It put me on my ass, 7.5 hours later and 20 pages past the last dog eared pages I awoke and dug into some toffee coated peanuts. I hate airplane conversations. It's like getting stuck talking to your close talking great uncle or getting caught conversing with the principal after he's had too many hurricanes and saltine crackers( doesn't he know he should hand out safety glasses when we locks in for a close talk)? But I had no other options, a 7 hour layover in Warsaw and not a damn clue. A naughty and nice length list of restaurants, foods, weird things a gringo has no fing clue about. Currency, taxis, taxis that wont kidnap me and bring me to a court where charges of making too many pollock jokes in America are finally brought against me. Insert Tony Clifton quote here; "Those dumb pollocks have gone through enough" My neighbor answered all questions without commenting on my sunken eyes thanks in part to over the counter narcotics.
I set off to kill 7 hours the only way I know how, by eating. When one restaurant was closed the most logical thing was to kill 30 minutes by eating next door. Check out all my pictures in the nuveo 8/12 album for descriptions of the food as well as more photos from this trip. I will post them all in a newer blog bums
Warsaw was rebuilt after Hitler destroyed it in dubay dubay 2 and was rebuilt from old drawings/ paintings. It has a fake old and tarnished feel. Like furniture granny spent a bundle on thinking it was antique but is crushed to find it's fake taking it to the antique road show; Prague on the other had is gilded, gothic, and has an overabundance of earthy/monochromatic figures, churches, and vertical construction. It's the city of gold or that hideous packer yellow is you ask me. My arrival was accompanied by calls of "Cheap sex" in a sleazy Slavic accent, cheese schnitzel sandwiches with mayo (smazey syre), and pilsners galore. I was put up in a downtown hotel where the door keys were actual keys hooked up to obnoxious baseball sized weights to reduce theft. It looked and smelled like Abraham Lincoln was assassinated there.
The following morning was market with the fried delicious cheese still clinging to my olfactories and fighting to keep a noticeable flavor on my taste buds. Andrej and I then set out to do some radio spots. Saying I stood there with aliens would do justice in describing how little I understood what they were saying. I'm pretty sure they said I had a small one and the gluttonous bastard from the USA cannot hold a candle to their countrymen when the national fruit (plum) is involved (in an eating contest). I just nodded and smiled a lot, and ate 10 dry Czech donuts in a minute.
The next day marked Halla Hunta Hoover's arrival as well as some late night drinking of the original Budweiser and some other choice pilsen beers. Budweisers turned into the dawn of the contest nad would mark our first competition which was voted on by fans. The foods would be a large pizza, 30 pickles, and a liter of ice cream. Or foods based on a pregnant woman's maternity repertoire. I was pushing for watermelon with cool ranch Doritos crumbled on top and garnished with garlic dill cheese curds.
The following morning was pleasant; thank god the Czech Budweiser doesn't produce that same dreaded bud mud that the domestic brand is famous for. That would have caused some problems riding the limo to the trinkobrani music fest. For some reason we were served champagne and Hall, Andrej and I split a bottle. Be it cockiness, ignorance or needing a Ferdinand Point pick me up but we coated our stomachs with the bubbly and were temporarilly more fluent in the local tongue.
The eating took place in front of a massive crowd of teens and young twenty something's. Multi round/food contests are my favorite because forcing the food to settles easiest when your brain knows you don't have to eat the same dreaded foods. Forgetting you just ate is easy when you can switch focus to a new and fresh food/flavor. For that reason the Spike TV St. Me Day chow down was my favorite contest and performance of my career. The pizza was no joking matter as its diameter easily outstretched 20 inches and weighted 6-8 lbs. The corn, ham and mushrooms made for an interesting combination to stomach and palate. Apparently my request for bacon, onions, and green olives was lost in translation. The crust was the most difficult part, it was insoluble in water and back like cardboard. But the middle was warm, soft and wet so it balanced out the pie and made it somewhat quick once the crust was painstakingly forced down risking esophageal and oral damage. I never got out to a fast pace so I took the leisurely route and paced myself. With half the pizza down I concentrated on all the crust and used mass amounts of liquid not seeing any reason to dunk it. The remaining interior was no problem and I finished the pizza in 12-14 minutes. I then got to enjoy the venue, crowd and watch Hall and Kamil finish. Hall dominated Kamil and that Slavic Italian favorite using Bertoletti/ Janus amounts of liquid to get it down.
They cleaned the table and brought the pickles, I could not resist them pre contest and ate a few. I knew they'd be tasty with a hint of sweetness a mild sour finish that would require lots of molar action. Besides this I hadn't a clue on eating pickles competitively. The pizza was a good warm and I felt all my senses relaxing, my legs, stomach, and throat all work in harmony clearing the pickles. The 30 pickles (2ounces each) took me 4-5 minutes to consume. I mimicked my hot dog eating style by stuffing in 2 at a time using lots of water to force the soured cucumbers into my digestion tract. Once the pickle table was cleared I felt another wave of adrenaline pass with another nipping at its heels. By this point I was zoned in and glared into the liter of the floral Czech dessert and listened to the countdown from ten in Czech. It would take roughly the same amount of time as the count down for me to raise my spoon in victory. Hall was a few seconds behind. Seeing Kamil put his innards on display directly after was an amusing sight. 3 rounds of mild foods is a cake walk in comparison to the hellacious premise of eating dumplings for an hour.
The post contest festivities included talks with fans and former Czech eating greats and a sampling of the locally distilled slivovice (plum vodka). Luckily there was a chef preparing local specialties and we we sampled, caramelized sausage with a perfectly balanced sweet Dijon sauce, curried and garlic marinated chicken and pork, goulash, and starborno beer. The many Czech punk bands performing supplied a steady and stomach settling background.
The following day marked a fresh but intestinally clogged day. Having half assed researching the plum dumpling did not leave me with a good feeling about the contest. An hour with no expectations or clue about technique and massacring numerous of the national delicacy was a hard prilosec to swallow. Not only did we have to eat for an hour but no drinks were allowed while condiments could include melted butter, powdered sugar, and coconut. We were brought over to break the standing record of 191 dumplings; I told reporters 200-250 was my goal basing it on a whim and faith in my stomach capacity.
The thought did cross my mind that we were getting set up by coming in for this. Never in my life have I prepared for something like this, neither mentally or physically. The only ways to eat were all out or pace, I settled into a medium- fast pace. I took my time and let my ipod do its work drowning out the crowd and my bodies disgust with this sour concoction of whole plums stuffed in dough, boiled, then cooked in butter. It would take 3 dillinger four albums to get me through. I stood as the others sat clearing my first 30 ahead of all. The dumplings were each filled with pits and the crowd/ eaters could keep track of the numbers by gazing at a mammoth chalk board that had all the current counts. The dumplings were kept in warming boxes and arrived at perfect temperature consistantly during the contest.
I watched the former champ for tricks but found him to eat them with a spoon and was doing so at a tortoises crawl. He would periodically hold up his stopwatch as if to say there's no way you can keep that pace up. It's too bad I only learned how to say cheers and fried cheese schnitzel in Czech because a curse word would have sufficed.
Upon hitting the 200 mark in under 35 minutes I sat down and felt a rush of fructose and pigments into my face. At this point a meth addict's need for a fix was the strength of my desire to have a glass of water. A refocusing of efforts was necessary.At this point I didn't want any dumplings to cross my palate or field of vision.This was where the powdered sugar came in. I played with my food like randy from a Christmas story pushing it around in disgust. To get the last plate of 30 down I pulverized them in my mouth with little passing into digestion. My saliva enzymes were rendered useless. I would de pit 10 at a time and then shove them all into my mouth and repeat. With the 30 down I asked for 5 more. All the while I was told to relax and not puke as I figured everyone wanted me to make a nice plum deposit onto the stage and into a bass drum. The announcer kept informing me of the remaining time pleading with me to hold on and not blow it. I finished a winner cramming 233(just over an ounce each) of the dumplings down in 1 hour. A severe case of cotton mouth and a stained face worse than anything wylers light has thrown my way. The color returned to my face and I stopped looking like uncle fester with pigments and energy reconfiguring within. Along with the grand for winning an obnoxious amount of alcohol was given out in prizes. Slivovice and starborno was the only thing getting forced down my gullet that night.
We spent time in the crowd taking pictures with fans and talking to our newly acquired friends. I was offered a mysterious drink in a kofola bottle. Refusing at first led the girl to inform me that it contained plum vodka. It was the same trick I used to pull from high school, and so I took a huge gulp. It brought a smile to my face to know the language is the only thing that separates us. It's odd to know young people everywhere are sneaking alcohol into musical venues. I once had a hobo buy me an 18 pack for a friend and I to share before and during a dillinger four show. Drinking that high life in a door less stall made me feel like a king. We were then barraged with constant jokes about our over consumption as people would shield their food from us as we approached. It's kind of like the "wouldn't like to get stuck behind him in a buffet" that we get at home but better. I will forever remember the fans we met backstage and the conversations in broken English.I couldn't of been happier to supply them with English curse words to text into the festivals computer that would display them on the jumbotron in a scrolling marquis. It was yet another case of the same people but different language. There are visual memories that cannot be captured in print so I strongly suggest a visit to the Republic of Czech. If you wont be making the trek any time soon check out the pictures of all my meals and sightseeing.
I flew to England 20 kilos overweight thanks in part to the alcoholic prizes in my checked luggage. I did manage to consume about 45 dollars worth of cheese, diet cokes, champagne, and treats in the lounge to offset all overage charges. My goal on this detour was to visit St. John restaurant, eat an English breakfast, see big Ben, and flick off the guards at the royal palace. The dinner at St. John was well worth the detour, I ordered everything I wanted and ate like my date with the electric chair was fast approaching. I sat mesmerized and overtly stuffed from this meal that rose to the top of my list for meals I've consumed thus far. Being able to take a simple dish of roast beef bone marrow a mere meat butter and turning it into something magical. While simplicity has its limitations, limitations don't exist for this perfectly executed and simple dish.
I enjoyed every minute of this trip and to my outward quest to conquer the world over in competitive eating.Hopefully it's not my last overseas and on someone elses dime.