Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Friday, June 30, 2006

Eat This Book with relish!

Ryan Nerz's Eat This Book covers his year on the competitive eating circuit,working with the IFOCE(International Federation of Competitive Eating)as promoter,judge and emcee of several events. Eating contests are as Americana as country music,baseball and apple pie but doesn't get the respect that's afforded even to the pie. Nerz gives you an indepth look at the growing phenomena and subculture appeal of this world.

One of the first notions to be quickly debunked is that competitive eaters are just literal gluttons for punishment-many of them train themselves as diligently as any competitor would for the Olympics. Known as gurgitators,many of these folks have the same type of charisma and style as any WWE contender such as Eric"Badlands" Booker(who works as a train conductor and also makes rap albums),"Crazy Legs" Conti,who once ate his way out of a giant"coffin" of popcorn and Ed " Cookie" Javis,one of the best known fellas on the circuit that sports a massive jacket proclaiming each and every of his victories on the circuit

The history of competitive eating is covered as well as the foundation of the IFOCE by the Shea brothers(a full chapter is given to those who found the IFOCE too demanding and decided to form their own off-shoot leagues)who put in place rules and procedures to keep the contestants safe and make things as fair as can be. Other controversaries include the increasingly strong dominance of the sport by Japanese contestants like Takeru Kobayashi and prescence of female champions like Sonya Thomas(dubbed "The Black Widow") and Carlene LeFerve,who competes along side her husband Rich. There's also many folks who claim that competitive eating promotes obesity despite the fact that many of the best gurgitators are thin and most of the folks on the circuit keep a eye on their health.

This is a fun and interesting look from an inside man's point of view. Nerz tells great stories about many of the events and players with some tongue in cheek but never condescends to his subject. Rather,he gleefully embraces it and shows the reader that competitive eating is not just the Rodney Dangerfield of sports-it deserves some respect.

One of the most intriguing things about this book to me was the variety of foodstuffs that are comsumed in these contests. It's not just Nathan's hotdogs and White Castle hamburgers;folks have devoured in record time such goodies as deep fried asparagus,sticks of butter,chicken nuggets,pizza,Spam,cow brains,reindeer sausage and mayonnaise,for starters. There's an appendix at the back of the book listing an number of IFOCE records and quite a few of them are impressive. It's hard not to be amazed at someone being able to eat five pounds of corned beef and cabbage in just ten minutes or forty-four Maine lobsters in twelve minutes..

If you want to know more about the IFOCE or Ryan Nerz,just click the title link above to check out the Eat This Book website,which has great pictures and links to many of the online communities for and about competitive eating. If you're in need of a good read while waiting for your barbeque grill to heat this holiday weekend,Eat This Book is the hot spot for your mental menu.


PJS said...

All I can really contribute here is to confess that I love, have always loved, and always will love... SPAM.

Fried SPAM and eggs is heaven. As long as someone else cooks it, so I don't have to look at the yucky jelly stuff that comes in the can.

Just saying.

lady t said...

I think there's actually a SPAM cook book out there or atleast there was a couple of years ago(things go out of print so fast nowadays).

I haven't had SPAM in years but don't miss it(my mom still loves a good hunk of it every now and then).