Saturday, May 9, 2015

Burger Madness

9 May 2015

Our usual hotel in Bangkok is the Amber Boutique Silom - moderate budget price, but better-than-budget accommodations with fluffy white towels, comfy king beds, good-sized rooms, bathrobes (which always seem so luxurious!) and friendly staff.  My friendly front desk lady who calls me Pehb has moved to sales, so she makes sure we have perks - we have a free upgrade to a corner room, which is more private and a bit larger.  And she gave us a special price now that we've extended our stay.  They held our rolling bags while we were in Myanmar, would hold them again if we head south for diving.  Really a great place!

There's a hotel and restaurant up the road - the hotel has a bakery in the lobby, perfect for quick breakfasts of coffee/tea and a muffin or croissant or something.  The restaurant specializes in burgers, but has huge breakfasts with eggs, or waffles, all that.  This is the spot where we celebrated Valentine's Day last year; they served heart-shaped burgers (including turkey burgers) in heart-shaped buns that had "I love you" in red, along with heart-shaped cookies and a mini-bottle of champagne.  They just do fun things like that as special promotions.

So right now they have the "Biggest Burger Contest Round 2."  This is their second year of running this competition.  They serve a monster-sized burger that includes:  
- 1 kilogram Wagyu Sirloin Burger (2.2 lbs!)
- 200 gr (1/2 lb or so) mixed mushrooms
- 500 gr (1.1 lbs) American & cheddar cheese
- 350 gr (3/4 or so lbs) crispy bacon
- 100 gr (1/4 lb or so) onion rings

And sliced tomato and lettuce.  On a bun that seems appropriate for that one kilo burger.  Truly monster size!

Prizes include not having to pay for this 1,200 baht burger (about $40 US), one burger per month for one year, and 10% discount on anything else in the restaurant.  

Plus the fame of eating this burger.  There's a bulletin board with photos showing winners (7 thus far) and those valiant persons who tried but didn't make it.  Winners have managed to eat this monster in 30 minutes or less - the record-winner ate the whole thing in 11 minutes, according to the manager!!!

On Thursday, this young man came in and chatted with the waitress for a bit, read the rules and signed a release, placed his order, and he did some stretching exercises as well as paced a bit before his giant burger arrived.  I jumped up to take a few photos - as you can see, the burger is bigger than his head!  And then he started.

Okay, it was exciting.  I wanted to see the burger in "real life" and there it was, humongous and greasy and pretty gross.  And yes, it was exciting to cheer on this lonely eater - he didn't have friends or anyone cheering him on, so Richard and I gave him encouraging words as he started, and kept an eye on him, figuring if he started flagging we'd cheer some more.  (When we left, I gave him the rest of our bottle of water and a pat on the shoulder.)

But it also was rather, well, not only weird but gross.  I mean, I enjoy food, don't get me wrong.  I like food possibly more than I should.  We both like to eat well, and we don't go hungry.  But this guy was just throwing in the food, barely tasting it, and having absolutely zero time to savor the burger and enjoy the food.  He was just stuffing it in and trying to beat the time limit.  So, what's the point?  If you aren't enjoying the meal, why bother???  Why stuff in obscene amounts of food in the name of competition???

I don't understand it at all.  I do understand competition, such as sports and the Olympics and all.  I understand academic competitions, art shows, all that - where people or teams show personal or group excellence at what they can accomplish.

But eating?  EATING?  When there are starving people in the world, people in this country (Thailand) who don't have enough to eat.  When people don't have enough to eat in Nepal, or Cambodia, or Myanmar, or any of the neighboring countries here.  When there are homeless people in rich countries, and children who don't have enough to eat.  When people die of malnutrition all over the world.  How can we as humans encourage eating competitions, encourage over eating to the point that it becomes a contest??????

Why can't we turn this into a competition where someone finds eight or ten indigent, destitute, truly hungry people to share that same burger?  Wouldn't that make a great competition?  

How about that for a TV show?  The guy who goes around the US just to locate similar eating competitions, don't you think it'd be great if he went to each city and found homeless or hungry people to share the food item and enjoy the food, instead of eating it all himself?

What is it about excess that we find titillating?  How do we turn that into an act of humanity instead of gluttony?

I don't know.  I just wanted to leave before the guy either got sick or exploded.

We went back the next day.  His photo was in the "tried and didn't finish" category.

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