If there were a contest for the world’s slowest eater, if not at number one, I would definitely be somewhere near the top of the list. In addition to being healthy for digestion, eating slowly has afforded me ample opportunity to talk during meals, which is one of my favorite things to do. Well, just talk in general, but I try to capitalize on it every chance I get.
I knew it would be tough to force myself to eat faster than I do, or have before, which intrigued me. I also thought it would be a good counter to my goal of fasting. Finally, my dad won a pancake-eating contest when he was a young chap, and I often strive to follow in his footsteps, even if the path may lead to feeling nauseous for cramming too much food into my stomach in a short amount of time.
In this case, however, it would not lead to a feeling of nausea, because I opted to take on a challenge of lesser proportions than pancakes. When I researched food eating challenges in Los Angeles, I found quite a few: scarfing a six-pound Godzilla (sushi) roll in an hour, slurping down a bowl of molten Spicy No. 2 ramen—reputedly the spiciest dish in the USA (though according to whom, I have no idea)—in thirty minutes, eating six scoops of ice cream and seven cookies in ten minutes, and myriad other surely vomit-inducing tasks.
If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life—not taking into account staving off scurvy or being the most nutritious—sushi would be it. However, since I am such a lover of sushi, the thought of gorging myself on six pounds of it in one sitting sounded awful. I didn’t want to despise my favorite food because of what would most likely turn into a horrible memory of throwing up six pounds of it.
Though I enjoy spicy food, and think I can handle a decent level of spiciness, picturing eating the spiciest food in the country didn’t appeal to me in the least. I wanted a challenge, but I didn’t want to permanently singe the lining of my stomach and intestines in the name of one.
The most appealing challenge was eating the ice cream and cookies in ten minutes in part because I love ice cream so much, as evidenced in my top five dream jobs post. I grew up eating ice cream every night following a long, slowly-eaten dinner. And when I say every night, I mean every night. If we had no ice cream in the house, someone was sent to the store that night to fetch a tub of it. I figured that completing, or even just attempting, the challenge would give me a headache. I was okay with that. I was even okay with the notion that I would likely regurgitate it not long after consuming it. What I didn’t like, however, was thinking of the pain my (very sensitive to cold) teeth would feel for at least ten minutes, and likely long after the clock had stopped. I decided, somewhat reluctantly, to forego this challenge as well.
What I settled on wouldn’t result in a toothache, the destruction of my digestive system, or an aversion to my favorite food. The goal: eat six saltine crackers in one minute.
Except, despite my attempts to thoroughly saturate my mouth with water before and after, my mouth and throat were drier than the Sahara. And I didn’t even come close to completing the challenge.
I tried to strategize the most logical way to eat the crackers, and thought breaking them in half would help me down them faster. No, that didn’t help at all. I then crumbled them up into countless tiny pieces, but that didn’t help either. It didn’t matter how big or small the chunks were when they entered my mouth, the masticated mounds in my mouth just refused to be swallowed. I didn’t realize until taking on this challenge how much saliva aids in swallowing, but I quickly learned.
I finished three and a half crackers in the allotted minute, and I felt like I had never eaten faster. I was frustrated, and thought trying a new tactic would help, but attempting to defeat the challenge a second time garnered the same outcome. At least the only repercussions were being annoyed at falling so short of accomplishing the task, and having a dry mouth for a while.