Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:
What’s the most you’ve ever eaten in one sitting?
Rules are simple: how much is too much, but still not enough? When did you let yourself go on purpose? What the hell is wrong with you, grosso?
I’ve already talked about competitive ice cream contests and I’ll never get into the time we had a ramen eating contest (do not do this), but mine has to be at goddamned Cheeburger Cheeburger. I was in my early 20s — that’s when everything dumb happens in your life I hope — and I had totally forgotten that I’d agreed to go to an eating contest at a burger place. They had some dumb thing where you eat a full pound burger and get your name on the wall. I forgot, so I had a huge meal. I ate mashed potatoes and meatloaf and felt that kind of awful/good full… and then I got a call reminding me to go to this burger place. I showed up and death marched through a full burger. My time was pitiful, but I did it. There’s a picture of me on the last bites staring into the camera/the abyss, and you can see the folly of human experience all over my face. Never underestimate the importance of the unimportant to someone in their early 20s.
Memphis has a Texas de Brazil restaurant located downtown; for those unfamiliar with the concept, you basically are given a plate to load up on the salad bar and accoutrements, leaving some room for meat. When you saunter back to the table, a small circle, flipped either on green on one side or red on the other, indicates whether you are ready for meat service (which could be a gay punk band’s name). Then, waiters come around with skewers of garlic-roasted sirloin, pork chops, filet mignon, you name it. And then, plate full, you go to town. Now, it’s a bit pricey, so my family goes just a few times a year. But when we do, I deliberately eat a ton the day beforehand to enlarge my stomach, followed by nothing the day of to really get the hunger going. I can safely say I’ve eaten about five pounds of steak in one sitting, with no exaggeration. I’m no competitive eater or anything, but when I’m there, surrounded by the finest of Memphis’ tourist crowd, my stomach is a limitless plane of existence, capable of consuming all before it. The eventual food coma follows, coupled with remorse.
The most I have ever eaten in a sitting would be two large pizzas. I was having one of those gaming binges and hadn’t eaten in awhile, so I just went to town. I am not sure how I put all of that cheese and crust away, but I did. I also promptly got sick and threw up sauce, but I did manage to get them both down in one go. I would say this was one of my greater “not proud” moments.
There are probably a few dozen tie answers to this question in my life, but one that stands out is high school, Red Sun China Buffet. The same extremely competitive person that rage-ate a Vermonster challenged me to an all-you-can-eat buffet contest. This led to a piling-in of variously fried chickens, beefs, and noodles. I can’t remember exactly what I got to, but whatever it was, it wasn’t pleasant. I want to say about five or six entirely full, grease-laden plates. She only got to one plate below me. I mostly just didn’t want to move for the rest of the day, but something I will never forget is that, after she drove us back to her house, she fell out of her car and rolled around on her front lawn for a little bit, screaming due to the stomach pain she caused herself through hubris. She knows who she is, and if she is reading this today, I would like to share a message with her:
I love to eat, but I’ve never been able to achieve legendary feats of stuffing myself, except as a teenager when it was normal for me to come home from school and eat two bags of Cheetos Puffs in one sitting. I didn’t do this all the time, but even doing it one time is disgusting in retrospect. And not because I don’t like Cheetos–because I do. Eating two bags isn’t even all that much food, but just look at the calories: 3,150 per bag. I had two bags. That’s 6,300 calories, or three times the amount of calories the average human should eat in a day, and 6,000 times the amount of shame any human should have to endure.
In Mexico, in Aguas Calientes I believe, there is a little taco restaurant called Jugo’s. You can have “inside” tacos (beef and avocado), or “outside” tacos (chicken and onions). I had 15 inside tacos. This sounds like a lot until I looked over and saw my friend Hunter after he had pounded away 31 outside tacos. It all became this big competition each year and things got out of hand. Guppies.