SSS BBQ Barn Shank Challenge – Part 2
Refresh yourself on how we got to this point here, then prepare for the final installment…
It’s a mission to keep going. And what makes it worse, when I inform my running mate of the immense pain I’m in, he simply tells me he’s keeping it casual. Somehow, the GZA is still in cruise control. His first sign of trouble comes with only a few bites left of the beef salad he has created, when he states: “maybe I should have gone the sweet potato, I seem to a have a shit load of chips left!”
I strip the rest of the meat off the bone to try and get a visual of how much is left, and with about 400 grams of meaty, coleslawry, sweet potatoy slop left on my plate, the waitress arrives not only to ask me if everything is okay, but to analyse the GZA’s plate. The son of a bitch has finished. Without a moan or groan, without a tear, this culinary titan has waltzed through 2.4 kilos of beef.
I can now sympathise with James Magnusson. I talked a huge game coming in, but have been made look ridiculous by more talented opposition. But unlike the Missile, this is just the competitive kick start I need. With encouraging words from the GZA, and Birdman still laughing at the fact that I have eating myself to tears, I just keep shovelling. The family of 4 children at the table next to us are quite shocked as I beat my chest and exclaim “I got this!”, the smokey BBQ glaze of the first few bites a distant memory as I wash each dry, chewy bite down with a huge gulp of water.
And then, seemingly an eternity after the GZA polished his bone, the last bite is down the hatch, as the waitress examines my completed shank and declares it finished (there were some dubious areas which could have raised questions of completeness).
The relief is only fleeting however, as we are then presented with the dessert menu. At the very least, we get to pick our poison. We both opt for the gelato, as it seems the safest option for the purpose of the challenge. Unfortunately, the wait for the dessert to arrive gives us just enough time for our minds to catch up to our bodies and realise just how stupidly full we are.
When the dessert arrives, it is accompanied with an absolute dagger, a last minute game changer. The three scoops of ice cream (berry, vanilla and chocolate) are topped with a giant, hard toffee spiral. We both opt for the strategy of breaking up the toffee and spreading it through the ice cream. After several bites, we both lock eyes and realise the huge mistake we have made, as inch long toffee blades slice their way all the way down. It is at this point, I try to throw in the towel. I try to tap out. I announce that I can’t do it. All the mental strength I was boasting of early has left me. I am a broken man. I get up and walk outside without saying a word, my engorged stomach leading the way. After a bit of fresh air, and fighting the urge to vomit in the park across the road in front of dozens of people, I return to SSS just as the GZA is licking the last bit of ice cream off his spoon. But unlike the shank, he did not make it look easy. He is in pain. He is struggling.
I look at my bowl. There is 1 and a half scoops of ice cream. Some has melted and can be slurped, which might just trick my stomach into thinking it does not need to expand. The spoon goes into the ice cream, it enters my mouth, I moan and cry a little bit. I repeat the process. I repeat again. I repeat once more. Then, like a torture victim who is finally given the sweet relief of death, there is suddenly no more ice cream left in the bowl. I am done.
While the GZA, without a shadow of a doubt, bested me and proved himself to be the TCB Big Dog, we both walked out of SSS “winners”. That is of course if your definition of “winning” includes two gluttonous gastronomes eating themselves sick (you’re kidding yourself if you think we both didn’t throw up almost immediately post consumption).
I don’t know whether completing the challenge is the most proud, or most ashamed I’ve ever been. What I do know is this: in my cupboard I have a 3XL t-shirt that comes down to my knees that says “I’ve been shanked”, and when you walk through the hallowed grounds of SSS BBQ Barn, the Shank Challenge Hall of Fame Board will read Tom “Glory” Gale and Andrew “Crash” Mackenzie.
Pain is temporary, but glory, eternal.
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