leave your inhibitions at the door
Did you ever see “Man vs Food” on The Travel Channel? Adam Richman, the host of the show, would go across the country to restaurants that would have eating challenges. These are where diners eat an insane amount of food within a certain amount of time in the name of glory. And a t-shirt.
I’ve actually been to two of the restaurants featured on the show. One was Betty’s in Seattle, where they have a 12-egg omelette. The other is Tio’s, right here in an Ann Arbor, which features Mt. Nacheesmo, a 5-lb plate of nachos. With either of those, I would brag that I could do it with no problem. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to prove it as I don’t have any plans to go to Seattle and there’s NO WAY I’m going back and eating the horrendously shitty food at Tio’s.
About a year ago, we discovered Dan’s Downtown Tavern in nearby Saline, MI. We really love the place because it’s easy to get to, has a monster beer list, and has terrific burgers with all kinds of eclectic toppings. My favorites are the 3 Alarm (1/2 lb burger with jalapenos, sriracha, sauteed onions, pepper jack cheese, topped with BBQ chips) and Bleu Moon (1/2 lb burger with mushrooms, cajun spices, and bleu cheese crumbles). One that was NOT my favorite was the Elvis Burger (with bacon, banana chips, peanut butter, and cheddar). I still have yet to try the Beefster (topped with marinated flank steak, cheddar, and horseradish).
Anyway, Dan’s has what they call the “Double Big One Challenge” – two one pound patties topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions with a side of a fries. If you can clean your plate in 20 minutes you get a t-shirt and your picture on their “Wall of Awesome”.
I went there with The Dutchman months ago and we were talking about the challenge. Both of us agreed that this would be easy if this were Amsterdam, Colorado, or Washington. Why those places? Think about it… What to do those places have that Michigan doesn’t? OK, let me clarify – what is LEGAL in those places that isn’t legal in Michigan? That, perhaps, would give someone the worst case of the munchies?
Seeing that pot in Michigan is only legal for medicinal purposes and I have a serious LACK of glaucoma, it seemed like this was another challenge I could brag about but never have to do.
Fast-forward a couple months and Dutchman and I are back at Dan’s with The Dude and the male half of The Blood Sucking Lawyers. We talked again about how easy it would be to do this while high – again, thinking there’s no chance I would ever have to prove it. But they pointed out, quite correctly, that they’ve often seen me vacuum up whole plates of food before they even adjusted their grips on their forks. They weren’t pressuring me at all, but something in me snapped. Maybe it was because I was so hungry that I was about to eat my arm or that I was in search of having some kind of self-affirming, personal Mt Everest. Whatever it was, I decided to go for it.
The burger was pretty big, but definitely not insurmountable. They extended the time limit to 3o minutes – not sure if it was for everyone or just me – and I gladly accepted the extra ten minutes. I ordered it with pepper jack cheese and the veggies on the side, which went down first like a salad. That took less than a minute. I then cut the burger into quarters and started attacking it, finishing 1/2 of it while my buddies had a couple bites of theirs. I was in good shape.
I finished the burger in about 20 minutes but could have done it quicker. The problem was that I wasn’t quite done. With Betty’s omelette challenge, the hard part was the big pile of hash browns on the side. Same with Mt Nacheesmo – about 4 pounds of the 5 poundsNachos came in the form of chips. With this challenge, the hard part was the “side” of fries.
More like “side of a mountain” of fries.
THAT was hell. It wasn’t just the sheer volume that was tough. It was pure starch, which doesn’t go down that easily. I tried ketchup and malt vinegar to lubricate things, but those only went so far. I found the best thing to help the fries go down was beer. OK, I may have been drinking the beer anyway and the fries got in the way. Whatever the reason, while the beer was helping with the fries, it was also filling me up pretty quickly.
It seemed like I was eating fries for days, but I finally finished. It took me about 26 minutes to eat everything, but I was done. It’s hard to say how I would’ve fared if the time limit was still 20 minutes. I probably could’ve done it, but I’m not about to try again. One picture on their wall is good enough for me.
So did I have a sense of accomplishment after that challenge? A little bit. But it was nothing compared to the sense of bloating and waddling around for the next 36 hours.
What’s the next challenge?