Sunday, June 12, 2011

A little too much for women to swallow

You might think that after 26 years of marriage, a woman would feel she knows her man. Elena certainly would. And she did…until she walked in and saw me watching that show again.

I guess I know what you’re thinking. Browse your own TV channels, and you never know what is suddenly there before your eyes—never mind if you’ve got young, impressionable kids. It’s there. And I got caught dead to rights. Even worse, it’s time I admitted…I’m a fan.

Of Man V. Food.

“You’re watching that again?” she inquires. As a matter of fact, I am.

In case you haven’t seen this Travel Channel show or the successor show Man V. Food Nation, I’ll spoon-feed the details: A fellow named Adam Richman tours the country, taking on the challenge to eat whatever humongous entrée some bar or restaurant says nobody can eat. That nobody should eat it somehow never enters into it, which is part of the fun. And it looks nothing like the new food portions the government has begun recommending—to replace a food pyramid that turned out, for a populace growing in girth, to be merely the tip of an iceberg.

During the show, he leads up to the actual meal by describing the restaurant, interviewing its cooks and showing how the dish in question is prepared (make that “piled”) and, in the process, building what passes for suspense. His experience? Besides having eaten food every day of his life, he has a Masters in Fine Arts from Yale. No, I don’t know how that explains things, either. Maybe more food in my stomach would help.

“It would be a better show if they didn’t always have the same stupid guy.”

When I first heard of Man V. Food, I was attending a trade show in Las Vegas. As it turned out, the Nascar Café in the very hotel I stayed at served a dish that was featured on Man V. Food. The Big Badass Burrito (B3 for short) is an 18-inch, six-pound missile aimed at your heart, not to mention your ego. The good news? You can have one for free. The bad? You have to finish your whole meal to dodge the bill. And those rules. You have only 90 minutes to finish the burrito, and you can just forget about going to the bathroom—or even standing up—till you're done or the clock runs out. I have a feeling most of every B3 served stays in Vegas.

Fail to finish the B3, as one foolish guy did as I dined nearby, and your photo joins those of many others before you on the “B3 Weenies Hall of Shame.” And you pay $20 plus the cost of whatever drinks you foolishly thought would provide lubrication. Alas, the B3 itself might be doomed—the Sahara Hotel, which included the Nascar Café, closed this spring. Guess somebody was eating up the profits.

“I can’t believe you watch that show. Every single one is the same.”

No, I explain, they’re not all the same. Sometimes Adam finishes the dish and, well, sometimes he doesn’t. And there’s another part I must explain. I myself am trying to eat less these days, barring the occasional buffet on the road. And pizza. Pulled pork. Okay, okay, those Drake’s Apple Pies, too. But besides all that, I’m watching portions more than I ever used to. I scan labels for the sodium, the high-fructose corn syrup and those dastardly trans-fats. What I won’t eat, though, I ingest through my eyes—which were always bigger than my stomach. What better escapism than to watch a guy stuff himself silly on meals prepared contrary to all medical advice…before a cheering crowd?

The more I think about it, the more I realize Elena has a point. In fact, I’ve conceptualized a better spin-off to Man V. Food than the unimaginative Man V. Food Nation. The new show I envision wouldn’t just give a truer challenge to our hungry friend Adam. It would also keep my wife glued to her seat. Somehow, though, I’m not sure I myself would watch Man V. Dishes.

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