Matzoh Balls and deep thoughts

It’s time again to recap another eating trip, another second place finish, and a great time visiting with friends in houston.  I have reread my blogs and realized I am a cholic in every term of the word, w/ food, “chocoholic but for booze” and with fluffanutter sandwiches. 

          It seems that the day before every contest is just as important as the day of the contest.  Many top eaters will use red eye flights and flying fatigue as excuses for sub par performances.  So in my case that means getting lots of sleep, not missing my flight and arriving with a full tank of energy to burn at the contest.  Such was not the case for matzoh balls.  I worked a full shift from 1 pm till 1:15 am.  After self wagering how unlikely it would be for me to wake up and catch my early flight I stayed awake returning emails.  My last minute choice to watch tommy meant that I needed to catch a cab and not take the longer route with a city bus. 

        I managed to catch my southwest flight out of midway and had time to eat a few donuts, and a pecan praline brownie.  I washed it down with a milk shake and lots of soda.  Don’t ask me why, it was a dumbass decision and not just because I probably blew 20 bucks at the airport.  The flight garnished 1.5 hours of jumpy sleep.  Once in houston I wasted no time hitting the sauce( diet caffeinated soda) and payed the shoe shiner 20 bucks to spike up my hair,thank god he had dapper dan.  I headed over to the luna’s to kill some time.  Having plenty of time turned into 30 minutes of conversation and catching up, thanks to some bum directions from the hertz direction machine.  The Luna sisters have been to more contests then true eating groupies.  We were acquainted 2 years ago at the berry hill tamale eating contest and they have come to every contest in Houston since.  Extremely nice, friendly, and outgoing do little to justice in describing these girls.

         So off to the contest I went with my 7 dollar disposable cvs camera and with 2 gallons of my juice nicely warmed in cooler.  I arrived to find massive trays of matzoh balls sitting out waiting for us.  They were the size of a toddlers fist.  They were on the room temperature/ cold side(they were pretty fast though).  I didn’t know what to expect as I did a practice run with small warm balls which I oversalted the crap out of.  I sized up the other competition and ran into the man they call jaws, along with big time, nate, dave, and a fair amount of media and fans.  One fan offered to take me out to a restaurant challenge the next time I came through houston.  Kenny and ziggys was situated in a busy strip mall and was crammed full with spectators and patrons.  I listened with a giant smile on my face as I heard this group of 4 kids discussing predictions for the matzoh rubber match.  They were split, 2 favored joey while 2 favored myself.  Maybe someday they will have eating trading cards  and my rookie card will be worth 6 joey chestnut nathans cards.            

          I have gotten used to getting into the zone for most contest these days and this day was no different.  It’s hard to explain but it’s a form of trance/ semi consciessness where my only goal is to keep eating.  A zone I never experienced in sports my entire life because I always sucked at them, baseball, soccer, basketball you name it.  I zone out with the musical stylings of mexican cheerleader and dillinger four.  I can hear the announcers but do little to respond to them.  In fact it all registers but everthing I process that is not consumption related goes to the very back of my mind.  I guess I’ve trained my mind to take the back seat during contests.  There is no other way to consume the poundage and quantitiy.  The only thing I respond to is being behind.  

         A good start for me is my strength in most competitions, but joey jumped out to a quick lead.  He cruised through the first tray of 33 with little use of extra liquid, using only the chicken broth in the pan.  I was 5 behind and needed liquid every other swallow.  I procceeded to dump all my chicken broth into the 2nd pan in hopes it would speed up my matzoh consumption.  It did the trick as I pulled 2 ahead after the second 33.  I would guess that this was around the 5or 6 minute mark.  I could feel the capacity and weight build within my stomach, which is quite an odd feeling.  Joey and I were neck and neck and sprinting to the finish.  Just 1 year ago we would have been limping to the finish.  Joey is a master of his capacity and I am a tier below him in that aspect.  Time was called and numbers were tabulated.  It was wide open and I thought my chances of a victory were probable.  But counting found I was 2 short in my quest for kosher victory.  I consumed 2x the liquid that he did but he still managed to kick my ass.  At 3.5 oz each this was truly a capacity contest.  So I was left fuller and with a smaller trophy, even when going in I thought my capacity couldn’t be any better. 

       A loss without shame but with lots of motivation to finally conquer that last hump.  The first stop post contest would be a run down sports bar with the cpa’s that judged/ co sponsored the events.  To say that drinking on top of the food is a challenge is an understatement.  It was not possible.  A few hours later we progressed to a seafood restaurant with gloria, mandy, and nate.  I could not resist having a few boiled crawfish and a bite or 2 of boudin blanc( a new orleans specialty pig sausage with rice).  I made a decent showing with the crawfish but was put to shame by the locals (mandy and gloria)

           The next stop in the first runner up victory party was a bar situated in a historic house.  It looked like someones mom was going to come downstairs and tell us “turn down the music and get to bed, its a school night for christs sake”  It was a cool building with lots of character and odd corners to examine. 

         On our drive back we stopped at a drive in only jack in the box.  In a rare reversal of roles where the drive through patrons are blasted beyond belief while the workers angrilly fill orders we had a drive through attendent that in all likely hood was pulled over and had to eat his whole cache of drugs.  After repeating our order numerous times we were given 3 giant sodas when one was ordered.  We were then given our food and told to have a good day.   At no point was a payment asked for or required.  Feeling bad for a few seconds was washed away by the giant bite I took from the jack in the box king sized taco.  And the fact that going to work high makes you do odd things. 

 

         I will conclude this blog with some deep thoughts;           

“If you go parachuting, and your parachute doesn’t open, and you friends are all watching you fall, I think a funny gag would be to pretend you were swimming.”
“If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you’ll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.”

What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to save a solid gold baby? Maybe we’ll never know.”

   Ok, deep thoughts by me and not jack handy.  3 years on the circuit have driven me to reflection.  Throught this reflection I have realized that eating is tier based.  You start on a natural talent tier and as time, contest experience, and training sets in you have a break through.  You then plateau and level off as your body gets used to its new capacity.  I have gone through these and am on a plateau.  I am trying to get over the hump as we speak.  It’s one giant hurtle to overcome.  To beat joey and kobey in nathans or krystal is no walk in the park.  I don’t know if it’s possible for my body to hold 70 nathans but I am going to damn well try to hit that number on the 4th.  One can only play 2nd fiddle for so long before he gets the itch and wants to be the lead.  But, there is something to be said when you’re number 2.  Motivation comes easier when you know that ever contest you need to up your game and compete on the top level.  Champions  find the strength to win when others lose motivation.  Some fall flat when being at the top.  This is not referening to joey, just look at the best football team of all time; the 1985 bears.  I know they lost buddy ryan after the superbowl but they couldn’t manage a repeat of that magical season.  I’m enjoying going into every contest with nothing to lose and everything to gain.  I am chasing that major title and I am licking my chops in earnest.  One day I will raise the mustard belt high above my mohawk, I just hope that joey and kobey are competiting because It wouldn’t mean much to me otherwise. 

     

-Ciao and shalom

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