Monday, July 13, 2009

Gluttony is a s..port

Conversation with friends over lunch veered to some eating competition and to some two guys who ate up to 60 rasgullas. They reached a point where they had to eat the rasgullas with chutney.

Eating competitions are held at all levels - impromptu to professional. The most famous being the July 4 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in NY with a cash prize of $10,000. But these are for pros. Idiots. Who indulge in a sport that has adverse health effects. Then there are the amateurs – those with their eyes on Nathan’s. Idiots-in-the-making. And finally there are those who do it for fun and won’t go beyond 5 rasgullas. They are gluttons. Good. Sensible people with love and respect for the food, for their bodies and the machinery within.

There is no dearth of incidents where people die eating. What a way to go! I mean you go to a beautiful place and say I could die here! or eat a beautiful meal and say I could die now! but you never think I will participate in this rasgulla eating race and choke on my vomit and die, do you? Among recent instances, a student in Taiwan died during a steamed-bun-eating contest. Closer home in Gurgaon a young techie died during a pastry-eating competition and more recently the winner of a pancake-eating contest dropped dead after gorging himself on 43 of the cream and banana stuffed pancakes. I feel sorry for the last guy. The others died of eating something nice, at least.

When I was small a school in the neighborhood hosted a Jalebi race to mark the end of the annual fest. It was the most awaited event. Jalebees were suspended from strings tied to a rope held by two tall teachers who swung it continuously. The participants had their hands tied at the back and had to constantly jump and eat as many jaleebees off the string as possible. I don’t think the winner ever mattered there, it was such fun way to eat jaleebees and funnier to watch. (I have some heartbreaking news for India’s jalebi lovers – what you thought was yours, isn’t. Wikipedia with all her matter-of-fact tells me that our beloved Jalebi originated from Middle East and North Africa!)

I like going for buffets not because we can eat all we can but because as a family our tastes are varied. So if it’s a Chinese-continental-Indian buffet, we don’t have two sad faces in the car on the way back. Before even sitting at our table we just go off in our three different directions. No one tells the other your noodles or your dal-roti – uff!

When one day we were going out for one of these, a very straight talking neighbor familiar with our miniature appetites remarked that if we were indeed going to the place we were going to ‘bada loss pad jaayega’. That got me thinking. How much people eat when the food is free. They don’t mind falling ill because they have eaten at every stall at the wedding – from chats through chole bhature and chowmein to rabdi – I did not miss anything (now I’m dying of dysentery). When ordering, they will count rotis per person (embarrassingly pointing finger and asking ‘you?’ ‘how many?’ and you mumble 2 less than you want because everyone’s eyeing you) and even the addha or chappa left behind will be doggy-bagged but they will waste mounds at a buffet or a wedding.

Never count your roties, said mummy. It was blissful. But I talk like an old hag now. Because those who remember, remember. At age 10-12 yours truly sat on the patta (wooden plank) on the kitchen floor and downed at least 10-12 chapatis with a katori of ghee on the side and whatever curry, mostly aloo. It was a life lived cycling and running and the 12 chapatis went down without a rumble. Most importantly never showed up anywhere on the anatomy in the form of love handles.


  1. Vandana Hunma7:57 PM

    Arre, we Indians love to set bizarre records to get into the guiness/ limca book of records. Rasgulla eating at least makes some sense.

  2. Ise kahte hein Khane ke liye bahana chahiye.
    As far as food of choice and mood is concerned ,I don't think anyone should wait for a competitor or campanion.
    You start eating and everyone else joins you.

    Indians have taught the Canadians to eat samosa and pani puri.Here in schools they sell samosa on regular basis and I have seen kids buying 4 samosas for lunch.