As the only competitor who has eaten in all 13 annual cannoli-eating contests people always ask how I prepare for the Sisyphean contest. It is a punishing discipline as the shell will cut up the roof of one's mouth and the filling will inflate someone.
The history of the female gurgitator is a short one. From Japan, Takako Akasaka once ate 90 ostrich egg omelets. Known as "The Sweet Queen," in 2000 she decimated New York city pastry shops and ate a then-record 22 Nathan's hot dogs in 12 minutes.
When you think of great BBQ pork, stripped sauce-soaked goodness, you probably think of Clarksdale, or Walterboro, or some tiny town in Texas. What if I told you the best I've had was in Sasebo, Japan on the Navy Base?
Although my mental prep seemed poised for victory, I wasn't prepared physically. My NYC diet of all-you-can-eat half-priced sushi and French toast has kept me in a shape, probably best described as an sagging water-balloon.
As the South Florida sun set, a golden maize hue on the horizon, one had to reflect on the corn eating championship. It was more than the usual competitive eating contest -- it had fights and forgiveness, despair and hope, bad behavior and magnanimity.
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.