I Got Your Outrage Right Here

I should just start right off the bat with this description of a sandwich, from the Daily Illini.

"...four cheeseburgers, a double cheesesteak, a pork roll, a chicken cheesesteak, sausage, gyro meat, and grilled chicken, and then move on to demolish mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, bacon, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese bites, fried mushrooms, jalapeno poppers, pizza bites, onion rings, hash browns, mini corn dogs, American cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise. All sandwiched between two rolls."

That's the Big Fat Ugly, a stunt sandwich made by Fat Sandwich in Champaign, Illinois. I saw it on an episode of Outrageous Food on the Food Network. And mission accomplished - I has outrage.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an ascetic. As is evidenced here, I eat for pleasure. I eat for flavor. I like bacon and cheese and Pop-Tarts and Taco Bell. But that sandwich is some bullshit.

I picked the Big Fat Ugly because it's the most egregious example of gluttonous stunt-cookery I've ever seen, but it's part of a general and increasing trend of glorifying these things, and the people who try to eat them. I mean, I watch Man Vs. Food, and I like Adam Richman a lot, but at the end of the day, there are only four ways to make food "OUTRAGEOUS" for the teevee. Make it huge, make it too spicy to consume, make it out of ridiculously expensive ingredients, or make it out of weird shit.

The episode of Outrageous Foods had two bigs and one weird shit. A four foot diameter pizza, pierogies with snake meat, and the abovementioned culinary abomination - a sandwich that essentially crams an entire TGI Fridays menu into a roll and dares you to eat it.

I like jalapeno poppers, sort of. I like pizza bites more than I should. But anyone who thinks it's a good idea to put them both in your mouth at the same time needs an ass-kicking. That's not eating. That's the indiscriminate shoveling of random biomass on a fucking dare.

Which brings me back to Man Vs. Food. Now, I'm not going to go off on it like Alton Brown did, because I like the show. Two thirds of it is what Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives would be if the host weren't the biggest douchenozzle on television today. The last third of it, the gorging part, is sort of redeemed by the charms of Adam Richman, but that only goes so far, because the only way to make something difficult to eat is to make it huge, spicy, or awful, and they never even try the third one.

So it gets boring. There's a math to it. After a half a dozen episodes, you've pretty much worked out the formula for how many pounds in how many minutes, or how many Scoville units over how many minutes, it'll take to send Richman screaming to the vomitorium or titanium shitter. The show's premise quickly becomes the least interesting thing about it.

And that's the New Gluttony's biggest crime. It's boring. A six pound cheeseburger doesn't taste any different than a one pound cheeseburger. There's just more of it. Mozzarella sticks are not a sandwich ingredient, either in Champaign, Illinois or a Denny's near you. Capsaicin stimulates nerves in your mucous membranes, eventually causing pain. We get it. Let's move on.

In a world where the Big Fat Ugly exists, I don't want to hear anyone disparaging molecular gastronomy as a gimmick. At least those people are trying to create new flavors, new levels of flavors, and new textures. They're trying to change and improve the eating experience, which is the whole point of cooking in the first place. That's not a gimmick. Putting fried mac-and-cheese bites on a santwich? That's the gimmick.