Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A New York State of Mind # 2

Joey Chestut, 5-time world hot dog-eating champ and his iron stomach.

Prior to our brief trip to New York, I had loaded my Kindle with several free books, including the entire corpus of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, Moby Dick, and War and Peace.  I began reading War and Peace on the flight east, went thirty chapters deep into the text, and then grew despondent when I realized I had not even read 5% of this massive tome.  What was Tolstoy thinking?  Well, it was another era.  But he should have titled this one:  War and Reading.

One of the highlights of this New York trip was witnessing the International Hot Dog eating contest in Queens (Coney Island). We rose early that morning, rode the subway for forty-five minutes, and arrived 3 hours prior to "eat-off".  We secured our place among a massive throng, stage right, and waited it out, shoulder-to-shoulder with seven thousand strong in a blazing 95 degree heat.  Why we'll never know!  After standing for nearly 4 hours in the sun, we were burned and thirsty.

What we witnessed was history:  at least hot dog eating history.  Among the women, the "black widow" won her second consecutive contest, eating her age in hot dogs and buns--45 in ten minutes.  A world record.  And Joey Chestnut tied his world record of 68 dogs and buns in ten minutes for his fifth consecutive championship and a $20,000 prize.  (You can watch what we witnessed live by checking out the ESPN coverage on YouTube of the 2012 Nathan's competition.)

Naturally, we had to eat a Nathan's hot dog later that day (a Queens eating landmark) and I'm sure we drank our weight in water.

Later that night I began writing an essay on eating . . . and I'm still working on it.  But as I think about witnessing that kind of gluttony, it's difficult to write.  I seem to lose my appetite for words very easily.  And I'm not sure I will ever eat more than two dogs for a meal.  Anything more just seems . . . well . . . wrong.

No comments: