Week 15 - Food challenge - Applesauce with a side of Brisket!
Ah, food challenges. I consider them a weekly measuring stick, to see just how much this journey has changed my ability to eat pure quantities of food. I think my wife, family, friends, and followers now consider them a weekly parade of "100 ways to NOT succeed". Still stinging from what I lovingly call "The one where the wife added a rule that somehow let her win, even though I ate more than her" challenge, I decided to pick a great challenge that would be a true measuring stick. This is also known as "the #1 way to NOT succeed".
I'm confident that most of my followers have caught an episode or two of Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. Well, this challenge made me feel like I was actually on that show! Okay, minus the TV contract, high-tech camera crew, and cheesy lines. But besides that, it was like I was a star! To catch the stragglers up, I was invited by a local BBQ company called, Five Star BBQ, (located in Orem, Utah), to take on their 5 lb. Brisket Challenge. In order to really make it feel like I was on my own TV show, minus the TV show, this was also the first challenge where I added a captive audience of family and friends. When I think of how many people showed up, and I compare it to a typical Man vs. Food episode, I quickly stop making that comparison for the sake of my own self esteem.
Contrary to popular belief, I came into this challenge pretty confident. I actually went through some extensive training this week to prepare myself to take on such a challenge (don't worry.....I promise this did not include any exercises). Prior to this week, I'd never really "prepared" for a food challenge. I usually just jump in with the well researched strategy of "eat it all, eat it fast" (I'm already trying to Trademark that smart and effective eating technique, so back off). However, for 5 lbs. of brisket, I knew that I needed some more advanced techniques to come away a winner. After all, this challenge consisted of:
5 lbs of brisket meat
2 large sides (I chose apple sauce and baked beans - why torture my wife through one of my stomach aches, when I could enhance the experience with beans?)
2 breads (I chose 1 piece of cornbread and 1 garlic bread)
55 min time limit
No bathroom breaks
To illustrate how this "heavy" challenge went down, and in honor of the 5 lb. brisket challenge, I present to you the "5 Advanced Fit2Fat Eating Strategies". I think my wife calls them the "5 ways to embarass yourself to a degree no one thought possible, considering you are eating 5 lbs. of brisket and posting a video on youtube".
Strategy 1: Substitute foreign subtances with actual taste
Two challenges in my journey have really derailed me due to a lack of taste - the famed "burrito incident", and that one little challenge I mentioned at the start. As I sat down with 2 massive plates of brisket, 2 sides and 2 pieces of bread, I figured I was already way ahead on this challenge - I actually was eating something that looked and tasted delicious. In typical "Drew's going to fail again!" fashion, I immediately employed my "eat it all, eat it fast" strategy. I started off fast, like a sprint, and WOW. My taste buds were instantly happy with the flavor of this brisket that had been smoked for 13 hours or so. The first 5 minutes were bliss (actually most of my challenges seem to be this way), and this was the tastiest challenge so far. In a stroke of true generosity, the restaurant did allow me to cut off most of the gristle. Needless to say, I wouldn't have to remake "The Great Outdoors" - no, this wouldn't be the 'ol 96er, reimagined. Plus, I'd need Dan Akroyd to show up to really pull that off anyway.
Strategy 2: Creative Dipping
I finished the first half of the meat before I even touched my sides (and I'm talking about the apple sauce and baked beans here, kids - my actual sides contribute to an advanced strategy to be discussed later). That's about 2.5 lbs. of brisket, folks. Now that I've caught my audience up (hey, we're not all math whizzes!), I do have to admit that I was already feeling nauseous. Hence, the need to employ a new strategy - once the original tasty flavor has run it's course, change the flavor! As any sane individual would, I started dipping my meat in the apple sauce. Nothing changes up your taste buds like brisket and apple sauce. When you think about it, it's as natural as peanut butter and jelly, bagels and cream cheese, or lard and twinkies. Hey, it's a Southern thing.....y'all wouldn't understand.
Strategy #3: The Push, Shake, Wiggle, and Shame
After the dipping started to lose it's effectiveness, and I started to doubt that those two flavors were actually meant to EVER be combined, I needed a new approach. The meat didn't seem to be disappearing quite as fast as I had hoped, and I was already deep into my 55 minute time limit. So, I kept plugging away at the food and employed the advanced break routine I call the "Push, Shake, Wiggle, and Shame". For the novices of the group, you stand up, use your hands to physically push the food and your gut down (it's like double gravity!), do a belly shake to try and make more room, Wiggle in place to fill in any extra "air gaps", and then get weird looks from your fans, so you sit down and hang your head in shame. You can see the technique in the video below. More impressive than actually using this technique was the fact that I used it again, even after feeling shamed once. Maybe it was the weird looks of other customers. Maybe it was the fact that this strategy led to prolonged and uncomfortable "man boob shake".
Strategy 4: Squirrel!
With 5 minutes left to go in the challenge, my prospects of actually winning this one seemed pretty slim. So I moved quickly onto my fourth advanced eating strategy - diversion. Since it would have been awkward actually yelling "Squirrel!" in the middle of the restaurant (not to mention the concern from my family that "the meat sweats" had advanced to "the meat hallucinations"), I tried to divert attention away from my coming failure to find any measure of success possible. I started eating the sides and bread as quickly as I could. I basically drank my apple sauce (don't worry - I didn't mix in the beans with the apple sauce and drink that, although now that I think about it, that could've been a more effective strategy). With 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 seconds left I finished the apple sauce, most of the beans, and the corn bread. And then I had the immediate desire to run to the bathroom. But not before employing Advanced Eating Strategy #5...
Strategy #5: An Overweight Man's Favorite Color Is Pink
After eating around 3 lbs. of brisket, a gallon of apple sauce, and enough baked beans to leave me lonely for the rest of the day, I needed one more strategy. No, this wouldn't help me win the challenge. But it would hopefully help me from "enjoying" my brisket, this time in reverse. I had my wife prepare heaven in a bottle -Pepto Bismol, of course, before I ran to the nearest restroom. Of all of my employed strategies, #5 probably was most effective, as I think helped me from fully puking my guts out. Instead, I had a few dry heaves and then I felt better (at least for a minute or two). I came home, all the blood rushed to my stomach, and I was basically in a coma the rest of the night.
Another week in the books. Another chance to measure my progress. Or, as my wife would say, "101 Ways NOT to Succeed". Then again, I'd rather have had the chance to employ these 5 new effective strategies than have to fall back on last week's "old reliable". You know, the one where I sit at my computer, thinking up as many excuses as I can to explain how I happened to not necessarily win another food challenge, and then hope no one notices? Nah, that needed a week off. Don't worry. It'll be back next week.