While listing my top ten New York City bars today, I am swigging Abita Grapefruit IPA and sipping Brennivin Schnapps from Iceland. Over twenty years of late nights, early afternoons in drinking holes and saloons, these are the ten or so that put my liver back in a New York Groove.
I have always relied on the kindness of strangeness, so 24 hours of shrimp cocktail, beer and whiskey in Indianapolis required a stumble to the dark side, with some nice folks along the way. As a city on the competitive eating circuit, Indy has often confounded me.
In 1968, as Washington, D.C. was overcome by riots, Ben's Chili Bowl not only stayed open, but served the rioters on one side and the police on the other, proving that chaos may reign in the streets, but chili brings only peace.
George Shea, the head of Major League Eating, has often compared our sport to, "a ballet of the buffet." He is often ridiculed for comparing traditional art to, well, stuffing one's face for prize money and a trophy.
A lot of competitive eaters wear open-toed shoes during competition, a fashion faux pas, I find both disturbing from a social etiquette issue to a health department concern. Perhaps, that's why Major League Eaters refer to retirement as, "hanging up the esophagus."
Major League Eating has it's own Iditarod and butter is not on the menu. It's known as The Triple Crown of the Chowdown -- three eating events in three days and only the strongest weapons of mass digestion survive.
Spring break in South Padre Island, could be described as, "sloppy." I didn't think that it would carry over into the competitive eating events, however, at minute six of the collegiate Huveos Rancheros contest, something happened that I had rarely seen before.
The Nathan's contest is the Tour de France, the Masters, and the Super Bowl rolled into a hot dog bun. I've been fortunate to be at the final table for a decade. Where can eating too many hot dogs get you?