A Dinner For Champions

After an hour and a quarter we rolled out of the restaurant with bellies full but a story to remember for a life time.

A month earlier I’d made the claim among some of my mates that I’d be able to eat 50 dumplings in one sitting. Immediately this was jumped on and a date was set when this eating challenge would take place.

A feat that would solidify my eating prowess and stupidity all at the same time.

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In the week leading up to the event emails regarding strategy were sent thick and fast. Some just wanted to enjoy the meal. Some were concerned about ‘stomach shrinking’, with so little eaten in the lead up to the night, but a couple of us disregarded such thoughts as an old wives tale. Some, like my good self, took it more seriously and conveniently began a weeks trial at the local Anytime Fitness in preparation.

Eating and drinking little over the weekend of the challenge was my strategy. This I committed myself to wholeheartedly, even to the point of ordering a calamari salad on the Saturday afternoon while The Wife devoured a glorious burger and chips. Not only did I have food envy, but lost man-points from the waitress serving us.

No amount of manless embarrassment was going to stop me from performing at my optimum.

As a regular Hamish and Andy podcaster I took a leaf out of their book, recognising their tried and tested strategies in any food challenge. This made me concerned about the amount of, and type of, food and liquid to consume in the 24 hours prior to the event. I did find time to invite them along via Twitter but they were obviously busy.

The day of the challenge provided ample opportunity for success, which began with a light breakfast of two slices of Vegemite toast and a banana. Small glasses of water were consistent throughout the day and a small zucchini slice and salad for lunch was the final foodstuff allowed down my gullet until the evening. The afternoon was full of solid garden work that whet my appetite for dumplings, and provided poor justification for consuming so many calories in such a short period.

After a full and strategic weekend it was game time and we entered the arena, David and Camy’s Dumping House, Box Hill at 7:30pm.

Six of us were ready to feast our eyes and stomachs on these delicious morsels of carb goodness.

The worry of not getting a seat was soon waylaid and the first four plates ordered in good time. Much anticipation was evident around the table. Despite not seeing each for a while we didn’t really care to talk of what we’d been up to. Such small talk was for non-elite dumpling players.

I had claimed that the fried dumplings were the only ones we could go with because they were superior in taste and texture. Little did I know.

After downing my first three steamed dumplings I had been converted, my theory shattered.

We discussed how we’d prepared for this event and what we’d been doing the last 24 hours to keep ourselves primed. Some had downed a few beers before arriving, believing that with no food in the stomach the craving of dumplings would be like the craving of kebabs at 2am after a hard night out on the juice.

This wasn’t 2am.

Amateur mistake by some around the table.

A quick move to double figures occurred without trouble and we began to talk about what we could realistically eat. Adjusted targets were set, there was no way 50 was in the offing this evening. I said I’d be happy with 30. I was one-third of my way to that already and confident enough in my strategy.

We did have an issue in the wait between ordering and delivery of such succulent dumplings. As any high performance eater knows the first 20-30 minutes are key in jolting the body into coping with copious quantities of food. Despite this hump in the road we continued to order another four plates and waited for them to arrive.

There is only so much soy sauce, dumpling juices and Chinese tea that can be consumed before the palate gets a bit bored by it all. Strategic orders of carbonated goodness were fulfilled, with a knowing thought that it could either help or hinder the eating process. I had a positive outlook, knowing that I’d have to stagger my drinking of the ice cold Coke. After the second round of dumplings had been eaten we’d moved into the high-teens and a few were beginning to fall behind. This was the time for the satisfying cleanser that is Coke to be opened.

It was beginning to be evident that anything over 20 dumplings would be a respectable effort.

But this night wasn’t about respect. It was about writing history. It was about becoming a history maker. Maybe even beginning a movement of dumpling eating challenges for all future youngsters and high achievers to aspire to.

So the crossing of the 20 barrier progressed quickly and moved into the impressive category that is the mid-20s.

The waiter began to see what we were doing. Not only was he taking our steady orders of dumplings but was beginning to give advice on what to try next. He threw in the left-field option of noodles, which we batted out of the park. It wasn’t until we showed him our dumpling counters we’d brought along especially for the event that the penny dropped. At this point, whether wanting to become our friends or try to get more money out of us he made the audacious claim that he eats 30 dumplings when he’s really hungry. A dint to the confidence and self-esteem for even the best of us around the table. But not enough for us to finish there.

The stomach was beginning to feel heavy as the next round came out. People were bowing out and questions over how many more plates we’d need was the main conversation.

Some idiot ordered vegetarian at one point, a disappointment to all of us.

After an apology from said orderer, but despite the disgusting nature of vegetarian dumplings three of them did help the total move higher.

The plate tally reached 11 and me and another were still going toe-to-toe.

The move to 30 was a feat worth celebrating and so hands raised and high fives were given.

You’ve got to celebrate the small wins in life.

As the final plate was laid before us quick calculations were being made as to how many we could end up with. As providence would have it two of us made it to 35 and glory was poured upon us by others. The obligatory Instagram photo was taken, with the waiter encouraging us to get the menu in it for posterity, or more likely shameless promotion.

So we exited the venue $20 lighter, 180+ dumplings heavier, and a story to tell for the ages.

While the 50 wasn’t made this evening the numbers were still compelling. A few celebratory games of Daytona and Basketball at the local Time Zone helped digestion, before wobbling to our cars and having to deal with the consequences over the next 24-48 hours.

Ah, what a night.

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