It’s funny where competitive eating has taken me in the four years I have been active. Prague, Minot North Dakota, Hot Springs Arkansas, and now for a second time Detroit Michigan. For an outsider it might seem like contest food has nothing to do with the regionality and local culinary offerings. Matzo balls in Houston, Ny pizza in Florida, and gyros in Houston. To me these towns have a good track record of supplying the best celebratory cervaces post contest and a great network of friends. For most it may not make sense why big apple pizza in Fort Pierce Florida would hold a pizza eating contest. For me it doesn’t have to make sense, if a dog food company in Lebanon held a bacon begging strips contest I would be the first to sign up. Does anything have to make sense when devouring inhuman amounts of food is the median? I already feel like a robber wearing black face paint carrying a sack with dollar signs, whenever I cash a prize money check anyways.
Moving on to more important matters; it’s been over a week and my jaws still cringe when thinking about the punishment from the calamari and the mere smell of a deep fat fryer still makes me a little queasy(well a little bit exited too). My preparations were not the best for this contest. On Friday I fell asleep at 9 pm and awoke at 1:30am staying awake till my flight. Choosing to watch episodes of police squad to get back to sleep was a poor choice; no one can resist the charm and wit of Leslie Neilson in this 80’s classic. All the prescription sleeping pills are rendered useless when this captain of bone dry humor is involved. Perhaps the air force should screen naked gun in cockpits instead of handing out amphetamines.
I am procrastinating doing a hot dog practice as we speak so maybe I should put the feathered keyboard to monitor. Mallies is a gem in the rough, 15 minutes outside of downtown Detroit and a sports bar/ grill that served good food and almost struggles to keep up with its popularity. On contest day it was packed to the rafters, or to put it in frat boy terms nuts to butts. And they got a bobbing for lobster claw machine too! (just imagine Garth Algar saying it and it may be funny) We had a chance to taste the squid pre contest and it was quite tasty, fresh and tender with a hint of a chew, cut into strips and not the usual rings. That was how it was in the contest too and it was quite obvious that they used fresh oil. Some foods taste of being fried in oil left over from the Johnson’s fish fry last August. As tender as anything tastes by itself an entire mouthful of something naturally chewy turns into a rubber band eating contest. The nature of squid assures that no matter how perfectly cooked it will always be slightly al dente. I finished the pound plate fast (likely 40-45 sec) and in the lead. I slowed down exponentially after each following pound. Each mouthful required a nip of hot liquid. The calamari did not want me to eat a whole fish nets worth of its kin and was fighting my advances. It was a struggle throughout, I was lucky to get an early lead because sonya and bob were on my ass the entire contest. I finished with 6 lbs 10 oz in ten minutes. My brother, Joe thin crust Bertoletti put up an impressive 1 lb 9 oz.
My body is fickle in the sense that sometimes my best performance come after no sleep and binge eating a bunch of jalapeno popper Doritos the night before. Whenever I bank on a preparation method it inherently turns sour and I end up not performing up to my best. It’s almost like baseball players not changing there underwear or shaving when they are in a good hitting streak. And when it fails you struggle to tread water and hot dog detritus, and are left with a patchy lumberjack beard questioning how to get back to elite form. I have always been a below average competitor and perhaps is my nature to take solace in shooting for the top and getting lazy, quickly lapping up the rainbow special Olympics participation ribbon.
When I feel on during a contest I don’t think there is an eater in the world that can beat me. It pisses me off when I have a great day and someone has a **** performance and excuses to warrant the loss. When I won chicken wings and turkey on spike tv I was in the best zone of my life. I would put down all my savings in Vegas that I would have beat a healthy Koby or even a bear on that day. Having those questions only furthers my drive to be the best. I want people to question me because I like to surprise. A journeyman dark horse can always surprise yet has none of the pressures. I kind of enjoy being the David Wells of competitive eating. Although I’ve never dominated an eating contest with an 8 Busch light buzz, it’s kind of nice be able to pull out a big upset.
I realized at those spike contests that I could be the best but there is no competitive eating for dummies. Like a blind man at an orgy I’ve had to feel my way through it. I go into ever contest expecting to conquer and take that giant ass check through airport security. Having to explain that I didn’t win big at keno or am the recipient of a scholarship to the local community college makes me laugh diabolically. It’s also fun wearing the oversized wrestling belt under your clothes and to repeatedly set off the metal detectors pretending you forgot you had it on. It kind of puts a spinal tap/ cucumber wrapped in foil in the pants spin onto competitive eating and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The most difficult part is after 4+ years I still have no idea how to assure I have the best day and am in the best zone for every prize eating event. For every good contest 2-3 are sub par and I have to muscle my way through the foods with no finesse or zone to speak of. Hopefully someday I will find out and that Joey and Koby are still eating so I can know what it’s like to be at the top and to have decent odds in Vegas. Not to mention getting some sweet Pete Rose side action.