Friday, November 09, 2007

History of FoodVibe: Part I

This is the first in a series of posts exploring the relationships between the FoodVibe writers. This post is about Steve. Soon, I'll write about Suzanne, unless she beats me to it.

Steve and I have been friends for seventeen years. We share an impulsive, terrible desire. When we get together, this desire is intensified. We get excited, out of control. We argue vehemently. We drive around Manhattan shouting obscenities at everyone who is not us.

Sometimes people cheer in celebration. Sometimes people get deeply offended. Sometimes the police get involved.

There's always food. And writing. And massive quantities of wine.

Before I met Steve he had already:

1. Burned down an entire field surrounding a drive-in movie-theater.
2. Smashed his parent's car into his sister's bedroom.
3. Procured a hookah.

Our first meeting could be called The Perfect Confluence of The Hookah and The Pot.

Steve, somehow, had the hookah. I, somehow, had the pot.

We were fourteen. We got outrageously stoned with a few friends.

Food, of course, was part of the deal. We built a fire in my father's back yard. Steve brought a few packages of hot-dogs. He cooked three hot-dogs over the fire. He ate the hot-dogs in minutes. I cajoled him into eating six more hot-dogs.

This moment defines a certain dynamic our friendship: I challenge Steve to eat more; Steve says, No way.

So I say: What do you mean no way?

Steve says: No way, I'm done.

I say: Fucking pussy.

Steve says: Fine, give it to me.

It's a sadistic dynamic and it benefits no one but me. It definitely hurts Steve. I've seen him eat two McDonald's cheeseburgers, a large French-fry, and a large Coke in two minutes, simply so I could have pleasure of buying him another round.

Does he even enjoy the second round? I'm not sure. I know I enjoy watching him eat it.

This is a fetish of mine: I love to see people eat. I love to watch people enjoy food.

This is why I cook.

But like all fetishes, mine has its requisite weirdness. Yes, I love to see people eat, but more than this, I love to see people eat massive quantities of food.

I even love to see people suffer. I love, sometimes, when people vomit. I love, especially, when people moan. Steve is a classic moaner. I like watching him eat until he moans. I am, in this way, a bit evil. But I am also a lover. After all, I'm a cook. A cook is always a lover, his food is always about making love. I do not want to kill you. I only want to make you moan.

In many ways then, Steve and I's friendship might be called: The Perfect Confluence of The Eater and The Cook.

Of course, I also eat and Steve also cooks. Recently, for example, Steve turned the tables: he cooked me and a few others a fabulous shabbos lunch. He literally made me eat the equivalent of an entire chicken. To cope, I drank two bottles of wine. I had no choice. Steve literally placed the bottles on my plate. I like this though, this sense of the ridiculous, the powerful sense of myth I feel from eating and drinking too much. In these moments, I come to represent human possibility and human funniness in its most ridiculous form. But this is not my typical style. This is Steve's style.

Steve is the eater.

I suppose then that I should tell you this: I've seen Steve eat more food then you might believe possible. This moment has become a myth. I should also tell you this: It has been suggested that I've invented this myth to cope with the pain of my own inability to eat massive quantities of food. If that theory interests you I can recommend some great case studies about cooks who did that, lied.

But I can only say, this is no lie.

Steve was a champion high-school wrestler. Each winter, every winter, he entered into a zone of torture: weight-cutting. He starved himself, literally, for months. Whenever he emerged from this zone, shortly after the State Championship, he was like a man possessed. I just so happened to pick him up one of these times, on a early-Spring Saturday morning. Another buddy, Henry, was there.

Steve hadn't really satisfied his hunger for months. So we drove to a local Farmer's Market.

And this is the part of the story that I like to call: Oh, the terror.

Have you ever tried Auntie Anne's Pretzels? They're ridiculously tasty, made with buttery dough, and likely sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Henry and I ordered one of these delicacies. Steve ordered three. He also ordered a 32 oz. Iced Tea.

Steve inhaled the pretzels. I thought he was satisfied. Henry and I certainly were satisfied. One Auntie Anne's pretzel, after all, contains 450 calories and 82 grams of carbohydrate. 82 grams of carbohydrate is equivalent to about 4 slices of bread. So let's say Steve ate the equivalent of 12 slices of bread. That might satisfy you, right?

So Steve says: I want one more thing.

And so we go to the pizza stand. Steve buys two slices. He eats them. I figure the bread equivalency count is close to 18 slices by now.

Is Steve satisfied yet?

He says: I want one more thing.

In Pennsylvania, knackwurst is a delicacy offered at Farmer's Markets by the loving, smiling, (evil?) Amish. Steve loved knackwurst, especially the knackwurst sandwich on a thick slices of rye. He ordered one, of course, and ate it slathered with raw red onions and mustard.

To wash it down, he ate two hot-dogs.

By now, my fetish had kicked in. And Steve, it seemed, might be willing to oblige me. Of course, he did.

Kielbasa is another Amish specialty. Often it is served, fried, on a thick torpedo roll. Steve ordered a double kielbasa torpedo and a side of French fries. We actually sat down, so he could savor it, bite by bite and I actually had the impression that Steve was still enjoying his food. The only person moaning was Henry, in disgust. I was laughing, on the other hand, in admiration.

(Let me repeat: This is true. And I'm feeling the fatigue of writing this story. It's insane, ridiculous, and offensive. If you're still reading, I'm offended.)

Steve says: I want one more thing.

Dessert. A triple-scoop ice cream cone, mint chocolate chip.

It doesn't really matter anymore--there's other worse things to consider, like all the fat, the excessive protein, the offended sensibilities--but the bread equivalency is close to 50 slices by now. That's my perspective: 50 slices of bread. Spread about three pounds of butter on that bread and you might account for the fat and calories.

I suppose that's why on the way out of the Farmer's Market, Steve felt compelled to add some fruit to his diet: an entire pineapple, peeled, cored and ready to eat. Which he did as we walked back to the car.


You might be cheering in celebration. You might be deeply offended.

Whatever: This is not the only story, nor is it the most worthy of celebration or derision.

Steve and I have been friends for a long time. I haven't even considered King's White Port, or dog valium, or the entire party's worth of salsa you ate, Steve, the salsa I had spent an hour preparing for the big Memorial Day Party.

Remember, you bastard?

Karen and I watched you through the window.

We laughed our asses off.


Karen said...

I remember peering through that kitchen window, giggling ferociously with Seth, as Steve methodically ate the entire bowl of salsa!

I wasn't at the Farmer's Market, but I've heard the story enough times over the years and still laugh as hard as the first time. Utterly ridiculous. Gluttony defined.

jen said...


Steve said...

I blame myself.

I don't recall the salsa incident. I think you are lying. It could be true though.

Seth said...


I am certainly not lying. Remember that little window next to the staircase in my Dad's house, the little spy window through which you could look at the kitchen? We were there, watching you, laughing and lamenting the soon-to-be absence of so much salsa. I'd say it was nearly six pounds of salsa, plus an entire party-sized bag of authentic tortilla chips.

Bert said...

I am in awe of Steve's impressive, albeit sickening display. That style of eating requires a unique athleticism.

Suzanne said...

Wow. That's incredible.

Jeffrey Diamond said...

Hey! Didn't Steve write a blog recently on the evils of pork? Hotdogs and knackwurst??? That's pretty formidable eating. Food voyeurism, interesting concept...I've heard of food pornography :)

Steve said...

pork is evil. I haven't eaten it in years.

Don't let him fool you. Seth is a bigger freak than anybody.

Steve said...

I'm different these days.

Really, I am.

Bocephus said...

I wish I knew you folks.