challenges
October 2, 2014 posted by

Food Challenges, Scotland, & Deadly Desserts

Food Challenges, Scotland, & Deadly Desserts

Note – I saw this vid after this was posted and it was just too serendipitous not to turn this into a Psyche post as well. Historically, the Scots are an adventurous bunch. There’s plenty of dangerous things to do there. Eating dessert is just one. The second Isle of Skye vid’s a bit weirder, but makes me more interested in the climbing Skye offers than the riding. While scary as well, I think my odds of surviving the latter are much better. Even if it’s just to hike, I’ve never been north of Edinburgh. That needs to change, food challenges or not. 

Moderation is the battle cry of sumptuous desserts everywhere. Sure, they’re indulgent, but a little can’t really hurt you, right? Researchers out of Scotland, however, have found that at least one dessert can kill on the spot, which is actually pretty rad, especially if you’ve been life-long food challenger.

Food challenges, for some bizarre reason, have been a consistent part of my life. It’s odd, because they’ve never been an obsessing, or goal. I’ve just been “blessed” with a palate that’s none-too-picky and a penchant for competition, which has landed me in national magazines, had Guadalajara taquerias dishing out all-I-could-eat free (hot) tortas, and earned me a little extra coin during my van-livin’ days. While I never felt in danger, thinking I was too fit to be bothered by any excess bestowed on my digestive tract. Is it time to re-think this stance?

On trial today is something, it seems, could replace the King Pin fritter in food lore. The “deep fried Mars bar”, a Scottish “delicacy” for the anything-but-delicate crowd. Here’s what Time has to say,

 Scotland’s deep-fried Mars bar is a fatty and unhealthy snack nonpareil, and we all knew that a few too many greasy chocolate wads would kill you someday.

But that day may actually be today, if you happened to be eating one right now. A new study suggests the 1200-calorie snack, made by battering and deep-frying a British chocolate bar akin to a Milky Way, could cause a stroke within minutes of eating one by slowing blood supply to the brain.

 “We’ve shown that eating a sugar and fat-laden snack can actually affect blood flow to the brain within minutes,” said William Dunn, who performed scans on volunteers.

“Bold talk from a one-eyed fat man,” is the line that, for some reason, has popped into my head. It’s Robert Duval to John Wayne in True Grit but it could very well be Todd “The Eater” Mei, lifetime food challenger and now Scottish philosophy professor’s reaction the this news. I assume, if he hasn’t already, he’ll be testing this first hand, probably post-haggis.

While the study showed the risk was actually fairly small, it’s intriguing, especially if, like me and my weird friends, Cool Hand Luke-esque eating is a somewhat regular occurrence. These days, in fact, there are so many TV shows about such buffoonery it’s starting to seem like a right of passage to male adulthood.

What should alarm us most is that the dessert has a scant 1200 calories. That may sound like a lot of fat and sugar to dump into your system at one time but it’s a pittance compared to what we’ve done. Regularly.

The worst thing I’ve seen in a food challenge was Russ McBride (another philosophy prof—what is it with philosophers?) vomiting blood. But he was attempting The Milk Challenge despite being lactose intolerant. My digestive system was a little off for a few months after eating 32 eggs in an hour and washing them down with a habanero pepper once, but I recovered 100%. No one I’ve witnessed has been worse for wear than that. Have we just been lucky?

I’m going to say no, even if the answer is maybe. Our group is absurdly fit, and mainly skinny. On any given day we’re far more likely to be calorie deprived than the opposite. Most of us fast regularly, and have years of experience pushing our bodies to their limits. Our metabolic systems are used to extremes to the point where excessive eating, unless it’s at a point when we’re in a weakened state, is something we’ll be able to handle.

That doesn’t mean this isn’t a real threat. Certainly it is. It’s probably particularly dangerous to the kind of audience who would eat one of these as a casual occurrence. That’s not me, or my group, to whom dessert is more of an anomaly than a standard part of a meal.

I’ve actually had one of these, or a variation on it at least. One night, at 15,000’ in Nepal, I was sandbagged by our guide with a celebratory “gift” of a deep fried candy bar. I can’t recall if it was Mars or Snickers but it was a pretty serious food item that took me a while to come to terms with, which entertained he and the cook very much.

I was happy to provide the evening’s entertainment. Someone’s got to do it. I didn’t fear for my life, though maybe I should have, and it will likely cross my mind the next time a similar situation arises.

Will it prevent food silliness completely? Probably not. But if history shows anything, it’s the Scots tend to underplay their hand. When a threat has been laid, proceed cautiously. After all, this is but a tale
, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
 signifying nothing.

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