February 24, 2009

Man vs. Food

By now you may have seen the new Travel Channel series called "Man vs. Food." This is not "Man vs. Wild" where Bear Grylls tackles some of the harshest terrain in the world. No, this is more intense, more serious, more awe-inspiring. This is Adam Richman taking on the harshest restaurant eating challenges across the country. Here are just a few examples...

Seattle - eating a 12 egg omelet stuffed with chili, cheese, sour cream and salsa with a huge side of hash browns.

Boston - eating a 5 pound hamburger, with 2 pounds of bacon and cheese and 5 pounds of fries.

Portland - eating a stack of 13 inch "mancakes."

I am glued to the screen when watching this show and I'm not sure why. Something about it just draws me in. Maybe its because I have taken on a few eating challenges of my own.

The first I can remember was during high school. My friend Jason and I headed to Pizza Haven in Factoria Square in Bellevue, Washington. They had a great all you can eat special and somehow Jason and I got it in our heads that we could each individually eat a large pizza (16 pieces worth). We raced through about 8 or 9 pieces each and then the struggle started. I can't remember how many pieces we ended up eating or if we made our goal but I do remember Jason pulling over on the way home to empty his stomach if you know what I mean. I remember laughing so hard until I felt my own slices starting to reappear. Not smart.

The next two were while serving as an LDS missionary in the Washington DC area. The first of these took place in very rural Front Royal, Virginia. The kind of food I was used to eating was not so easy to come by. Plenty of venison and other wild game but not much by the way of fast food (a missionary staple) except for the McDonalds on Main street. One day my companion Elder George and I saw an advertisement for 2 Big Macs for $1.00. Missionaries don't have a lot of money so this was a very appealing invitation. We drove up, went inside and proceeded to eat 4 Big Macs each. I have not eaten one since.

The second was in Quantico, Virginia, home to the enormous USA Naval base. My companion Elder Siddoway and I had saved up to go to the "Market Street Buffet" an expensive buffet restaurant that had everything you could imagine. Because of the price, it was not somewhere you got to go very often. We went for the first time with several other missionaries and we ate ourselves past the point of full. It was on a P-Day (preparation day - the day we got to do our laundry, write letters, etc.) so we spent several hours recovering afterwards. That evening, we went to a dinner appointment at a member's home, the Bakers, who lived on base. We were still completely full but wanted to honor the appointment, hoping for a light salad or a small bowl of oatmeal or something. As we entered their house, they surprised us with some exciting news. Knowing for weeks that we had been coming, they had saved up and wanted to treat us to dinner at the Market Street Buffet! I remember struggling through that meal like I never have before, not wanting them to know that we had been in that exact spot just hours before.

I have always loved food and I'm sure that sometimes I take that love to the extreme in unhealthy ways. I am grateful for shows like Man vs. Food which allow me to live out the darker side of my food passion without the accompanying health risk or pounds! Go Adam Richman!