Trek America Extreme Eating:
Guest post by Natalie York
For those of you keen to do a bit of Stateside exploring on a budget Trek America provides what look like a great series of packages covering everything from a short hop to New York to a grand eighty day tour of the 48 mainland states. The holidays are mostly targeted at the rugged and hardy with loads of camping, hiking and general outdoorsiness encouraged. Whilst I am not personally the most intrepid holidaymaker Trek’s latest offering sounds very much like my kind of adventure revolving as it does round a series of extreme food challenges!
I headed along to the always fun All Star Bowling Lanes for the launch of Trek’s latest offering which they’re calling “Trek vs Food”, a whistlestop tour through some of the great foody cities in the states including Washington, Birmingham, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Charlestone. Visitors better not expect and fancy dining here, Trek is sticking firmly to its adventurous heritage so travellers can expect to be introduced to the more extreme side of American cuisine trying dishes called “Voodoo Juice”, “Drunken Hog” and “Big Nasty” to name a few!
On offer for us to try was a wide selection of all those foods I keep on hearing about in American tv shows but have never quite sure as to what they are exactly. Turns out a corndog is literally a frankfurter wrapped in a sort of corn-based batter and deep-fried (its better with ketchup). But whilst I was gorging on burgers and Hershey’s kisses an even more daunting challenge was being set up at the back of the bowling alley as Trek America challenged five brave food bloggers to compete in a real life eating competition. With the grand prize of a holiday to Las Vegas the stakes were pretty high and the competitors were each met with a large portion of chicken wings, a triple stacked burger and what has to be the longest hot dog I have ever seen, all smothered in mustard and ketchup. The aim was to consume as much as possible in 15 minutes and as the clock started ticking the five brave men and women (braver than me anyway) got down to it.
I’ve never actually witnessed an eating competition before, I’m not sure if it is a particularly American thing or if I’ve just missed out on it over here but it does certainly make for a pretty entertaining spectator sport. I don’t know just how enjoyable it is for the poor competitors slaving their way through the seemingly unending mound of food before them. I guess it seems obvious but actually I was shocked by just how difficult it looked, I suppose when you’re not focusing on the time it feels like you can polish off a burger in a few bites but it was fascinating to watch people eat non-stop for fifteen minutes and still have only make their way through a few chicken wings and maybe a third of a hotdog. The crowd obviously had a great time, as the clock ticked on and various inspirational American tunes were blasted through the speakers, we developed an almost gladiatorial level of glee cheering on what became an increasingly hypnotic spectacle, if gladiator fights had taken place whilst the crowd were singing Eye of the Tiger that is.
After the winner was named and the contestants stepped down, each with a consolation bottle of whiskey and a slightly greenish look around the gills, we headed off after a bizarre but very fun afternoon. Now I’ve just got to work out how to convince my friends to start a British competitive eating league, I’m thinking ten pork pies in ten minutes!