Sun, May 27, 2018 09:06 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Smile Awhile
Eat your heart out
by Sara Hopson

A few years back a very popular book hit the newsstands, called What Color is Your Parachute? I forget the author’s name, but the subject matter had to do with people who are going through a career crisis and have come to the conclusion that they are working at the wrong job and need to shift professions. The book was designed to help these misdirected souls focus on and find that ideal position in life that will provide all of their needs – mentally and emotionally as well as financially. Most people, it was ascertained, either found their jobs boring or downright hated them. In other words, to love one’s job makes for a happier person.

This prompted a discussion between my husband and me about the ideal calling in life, and he said he knew of someone in San Francisco who worked for a gourmet magazine and whose job consisted of being flown to some exotic location each month, dining at a new four-star restaurant, and then writing a review of its food, service, and ambiance for the magazine. (One month in Paris – the next, Hong Kong, etc.) We both agreed it doesn’t get much better than that. (We also couldn’t help but wonder where one would apply for a job like that? And what kind of credentials would you need? I guess you’d have to have a special palate or something.)

Then last night on the evening news with Dan Rather, a segment focused on a fellow named Ed “Cookie” Jarvis whose calling in life, it seems, is to compete in eating competitions. (I wonder how he got his nickname?) His latest, wherein he ate more than four pounds of chicken-fried steak in 12 minutes, netted him a cool $1,500. He is also the national cannoli-eating champion as well as the big prize winner for pizza, watermelon, and ice cream; and he was also the grand champion at the Las Vegas Buffet Eating Competition last year.

Evidently there is big money in being able to eat more of an item than a bunch of other guys (and gals) sitting around a table. Cookie was wearing a black satin jacket that listed all of his wins, and obviously the guy has packed away a few bucks and a few pounds.

And get this: Just in case you think these people are kidding around, there is actually an outfit called the International Federation of Eating Competition that organizes these events. (That in itself isn’t a bad job to have.) For instance, let’s say you open a new oyster bar. For a fee and some up-front prize money, these folks will notify their competition eaters and come to your town and oversee the face-stuffing in front of local news cameras and reporters, while your oyster bar benefits from the advertising exposure, and you mark up the expenses as a tax write-off.

But four pounds of chicken-fried steak? I don’t care how much you love a certain food, there is a line you eventually cross where enough is enough. I guess that’s why the news article that followed this one about competition binges was appropriately about healthy bowels and the new painless method of colonoscopy.

Many more years in that job and Cookie is going to need it.

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