A food-eating contest participant. / REUTERS

Eat that bird!

Obscene food-eating contests are one the rise - though it's yet to catch on in Spain, thankfully

ANDREW J. LINN

To most lovers of good food, the very idea of eating massive quantities of anything is repulsive. Nevertheless, social media recently went berserk when a Philadelphia man was featured eating a rotisserie chicken daily for 40 days. Nothing exceptional about that we may think, but he obtained 40,000 Twitter followers, and when asked why he did it, replied he had no particular reason but just thought it was "the right thing to do".

Students of the American way of life will not be surprised that hundreds of people arrived at the location to watch him eat, sporting placards stating, "Eat that bird".

There are hundreds of eating contests, often exploiting repellant material, but fortunately Spain has very few, as befits a nation that respects food to a high degree. Nevertheless, in the last national Argentinos Burguer Hot Dog Challenge (sic), the winner consumed ten hot dogs in eight minutes.

Unsurprisingly, there are professional contestants who travel the world scooping up prizes, and they take the occupation very seriously. Indeed, there are websites instructing contestants how to prepare, the most important factors being medical checks, selecting competitions with appealing food, training for weeks beforehand (ideally on grapes and melons), chewing rapidly and drinking vast quantities of water.

It is apparently important to practise alone beforehand and start increasing the size of portions, building up to as much as can be eaten in the 22 hours prior to the event, to be repeated four hours later. Don't forget to listen to music, and don't compete more than twice a month - as if any idiot would!