Food for Thought

We’re goin’ to the dogs, and we’re happy about it

Finally … he’s gone.

The king is dead; long live the king!

We’ve waited so long and, finally, he’s out of the picture, exiled. At least for now.

Takeru Kobayashi.

That little weasel; that twerpy roadblock to American dominance. Kobayashi: a persistent and irritating stain on our national honor.

It took six years to rid ourselves of the runt; six years to redeem ourselves, to regain our prominence at the top of the conspicuous consumption pyramid. Six years to reclimb the peak and stand at the summit, where we rightly belong.

It took some mighty heroic American efforts to accomplish the feat. Our heroes fell by the score but, at last, we did it.

With the help of an unsightly, gastric mishap.

Bottom line: Kobayashi barfed.

And we won.

It’s a great day to be an American; this is a shining moment of glory, to be shared by all of us in this wonderful land.

One of our boys has reclaimed the world’s hot dog eating championship.

We can breathe easy, folks; the title is back where it belongs.

For six years, that troll Kobayashi had defeated our best. Not just defeated them … obliterated them.

The terrible thing — beyond the fact that Kobayashi represents the ever-present and growing Asian threat to American hegemony on many fronts — is the fact the little bozo is so skinny.

Oh, the metaphors! And for six years, not one of those metaphors boded well for the good-old U.S. of A.

Time after time, for six years, in prelims and at the ultimate weenie fest — the World Championship Hot Dog Eating Contest, held at the front of Nathan’s at Coney Island — the voracious bozo humiliated one after another of our behemoths — guys with massive bellies and huge maws: Italian-Americans African-Americans, Irish-Americans, even the occasional Jew — all our best eaters. The Kobayashi juggernaut smashed everyone who dared a challenge.

Year after year, America’s finest fell like a row of grossly overweight dominoes. One after another, they went down at the hands (or, rather the grotesquely out-of-proportion mouth and alienlike intestinal tract) of the insidious Kobayashi.

It was flat-out disgraceful.

But, on July 4, 2007, our own lean and mean package — one Joey Chestnut, the California hot-dog-devourin’ maniac and winner of WingBowl 07 — put Kobayashi to the mat.

Chestnut nailed one dog and bun every 10.9 seconds — 66 in 12 minutes. The Japanese champ was neck and neck (jaw to jaw, gut to gut, etc.) with our boy until the bell. Then, tired of his favorite nation being disgraced year in and year out, God intervened.

And Kobayashi barfed.

That’s a three-dog penalty.

They played our national anthem and wrapped Chestnut in a flag.

I wept.

Finally, relief.

My frustrations were long in the making. When the crafty Asian won his first championship in this gluttony-fueled free-for-all (contestants often dunk bun-cradled dogs in water to make the slide gutward easier) I was angry. For crying out loud — no one has devoured more resources, gobbled up more of the world’s goodies, than … us. How could a diminutive punk from Osaka erase Mike Matatucci, of Rahway, New Jersey? How could the little dipwad dispatch Ray “The Belly” Newton, from Lima, Ohio? These guys seemed untouchable. In more ways than one.

Kobayashi’s second world championship belt threw me over the edge, especially considering our two best hopes each weighed darned near 300-pounds, had 54-inch-plus waistlines, heads the size of medicine balls, an abundance of body hair, bad attitudes (no doubt aided by whopping cases of heartburn) and training regimens that included several pounds of animal by-products and a couple loaves of bread forced down the pipe four to five times per day. They were like geese being force-fed to produce foie gras. All to no avail.

They were pros, and Kobayashi annihilated them. It was a disgrace; the dweeb tipped the scales a touch under 130 and he grinned like some kind of carnival geek, hot dog and bun crud stuck to his teeth, looking for all the world like your embarrassing cousin — the one who was locked in the closet when the guests arrived for a holiday dinner.
Still, I had faith. I was in LA in 2004 during a warmup to the world event, just in time to cheer on some of brightest and best at a major-league chowdown in the commercial plaza at the front of the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel. The competition was spectacular. As far as I could tell, once the carpet of partially digested sludge was hosed off the dais and the survivors staggered to the medal stand, that the world championship that year would be ours.

No way.

Kobayashi.

That sly little jerk. He had developed a technique allowing him to inhale an entire dog and bun without chewing, like a python swallowing a large rodent, at light speed. They had to put several sausage companies on alert following his performance.

He sneered as they presented him with his fourth-consecutive crown.

I admit it: I detested Kobayashi.

I pondered going into training, taking it on myself to meet this seemingly unstoppable brute’s challenge to our national honor.
I have a rational being who exists within me, and occasionally I consult Rational Karl to test an idea. So, I consulted Rational Karl, detailing my plan — something akin to Mothra meets Godzilla.

“I know I’m past my prime. I know everything is stacked against me. But, I just can’t take it anymore. Maybe, just maybe, I’m the Rocky Balboa of the eating competition world. It’s a stretch, but someone has to stop this charade.”

“No … you’re not Rocky; you’re insane, and this is just the latest in a series of ideas that end up with you damaged, floating like a charred hunk of flotsam in the wake of a sinking, bad idea. True, you can wolf down food with the best of them. And, you’re heavy — close to morbidly obese, as a matter of fact. And, you’re crazy … did I mention that? But, you’d be best advised to get back to work on the anti-gravity machine you’re inventing for the weight room at the gym; you have a much better chance of success with that.”

“I figure if I eat a dozen dogs at breakfast, expand the midsection with a 10 a.m. repast of a pound or two of burger and perhaps a plate or two of pasta, return to the training table for a dozen woofers at lunch, have a mid-afternoon snack of a pan of lasagna, devour another dozen dogs and buns at dinner and top the night off with an entire Pepperidge Farm coconut cake, I could get in the groove pretty easily.”

“There wouldn’t be a groove wide enough for you. You’d need a trench, probably a strip mine.”

“I know I could beat this little dork. He’s Japanese, you know. Remember World War Two? They toyed with us then, and …”

“Yeah, and you remind me of Pearl Harbor. As in, a disaster. Plus, I’m not sure where you could purchase a set of rubber sheets to handle the inevitable nighttime ‘incidents.’ And, about two days into your training schedule, an ambulance would be at the front door and the EMTs would be screaming ‘Clear!’ as they shocked you with a defibrillator. The only thing you’re guaranteed to win is an angioplasty. Give it up; we’ve got insurance, but it’s not that good. Better safe than sorry, you know.”

I (Id-driven, Irrational Karl) was undeterred.

Everything seemed to be on track, until I set calculator to training table needs. As I figured it, to adequately prepare to contend with the insidious Kobayashi, I would need to spend approximately $750 dollars per week on food. For me alone. That would have required working a night-shift at a convenience store. Granted, the work could have provided me with a nearly endless supply of chips and cheap cookies, but I realized I am old and, even with five or six of those caffeine-saturated special drinks favored by the kids under my belt, I’d need a bit of shut-eye each night. No deal.

I did an Internet search for U.S. Olympic Training Center scholarships.

Zip. Seems, for some unfathomable reason, the center does not have a competitive eating program.

I got negative results with my requests for sponsorships from our land’s biggest meat packers and hot dog bun producers. Like an employer who gets a resume from a 60-year-old CPA, they failed to respond.

So, I failed as well.

Not to say I didn’t eat a lot more. That happens when you are depressed.

I just sat there, eating … and watched that runt clobber our best challengers. In protest, however, I refused to eat hot dogs.

Until last week.

The Hot Dog Hotel has undergone a hefty remodel. And I have reserved a room at the inn.

I taped Chestnut’s world championship award ceremony and, after replaying it several times, I was inspired to go to the local market and peruse the dog section — something I had not done in quite some time.

Interesting.

There are plenty of pretenders — most with an abundance of filler and very little protein (of course, even the primo models are mostly filler). And, what protein there is, is usually from a suspicious (read unspecified) part of the animal’s anatomy.

There are some beauties available’— gourmet dandies kissed with the flavors and additions of the day: chipotle, chives, black olive, poultry of all kinds (or, at least, parts of birds, again rarely identified).

No thanks. If I am going to the dogs, I am walking the real thing mouthward.

I checked the shelves for Kosher Zion.

No deal. Kaput.

Vienna is available — all beef, but still a bit short of the mark.

So, there is only one source.

Hebrew National.

Yep, for more than a century, Hebrew National has been putting out a great dog (even after Con Agra took over the brand). Ever since that wacky Rumanian Isadore Pinckowitz spread his tubular joy in the Lower East Side (that doesn’t sound right, does it?) this model has been at the top of the dog scale.

And, who can resist a brand whose motto is, “We answer to a higher authority.”?

Not me.

So I purchased a pack of Hebrew Nationals and welcomed the pack home like long, lost friends.

The prep: the classic.

Don’t give me any of that stuffed hot dog junk you see in the cooking magazines. Don’t hustle any special sauces or fancy-schmantsy, aren’t-we-cute schmears.

Simmer the dog in water until warmed through, give it a turn on the grill until nicely browned (don’t overdo it, it’ll shrivel) plop it in a steamed or grilled bun, slather with stone-ground mustard.

At the most, a wad of kraut can be added.
The Higher Authority prohibits the addition of cheese.

I think I’ll throw a celebration of America’s triumph in the world championships and highlight it with a Hebrew National extravaganza.

I might even eat two of the hot dogs — as I imagine the torment suffered by Kobayashi, returned to the homeland in disgrace, stuffed in that closet to which all embarrassing relatives are consigned.

Maybe I’ll eat three.

Maybe …


What’s Cookin?

Grilled Potato Strips

1 large dark-orange sweet potato (8 ounce), cut into 2x1/4x1/4-inch strips
1 large russet potato (8 ounce), cut into 2x1/4x1/4-inch strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. In medium bowl, combine potatoes and 1 tablespoon of the oil; toss gently to coat. Place vegetables in grill basket (grill “wok”).
2. In small bowl, mix remaining tablespoon oil, the chiles, salt and cumin; set aside.
3. When grill is heated, place grill basket over medium-high heat. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are lightly browned and tender.
4. Place potatoes in serving bowl. Pour reserved oil mixture over top; toss gently to coat.
Note: High altitude (3,500-6,500 feet): Cook potatoes in grill basket on grill over medium heat.
Yields five servings. Per 1/2 cup serving: 120 calories, 6g fat, 250mg sodium, 15g carbs, 1g fiber, 4g sugar, 1g protein. Source: Pillsbury.


Obituaries

Bernice Crowley

Bernice Crowley, 94, left us peacefully Wednesday, July 4, 2007, to be with her Lord and Savior. Bernice was born May 23, 1913, in Higgins, Texas. The family moved to Enid, Okla., in 1916, then to Edith, Colo., in 1933. She married Irwin Crowley on June 28, 1935, and they spent 54 wonderful years together, most of those years on the Crowley Ranch in Chromo, Colo.

She was preceded in passing by her beloved husband, father, mother, three brothers, uncles and aunts.
Bernice was blessed by a compassionate, loving husband. She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother and her family was the center of her life. Her love of the ranch, as well as the wildlife that frequented the hillsides and the river bottom near the house would draw her outdoors, oftentimes with a camera. Bernice was a gifted artist and featured God’s beauty on each canvas. One would often find her in the garden and she found great pleasure in sharing flowers or plants with many of her friends. She had a great passion for learning and enjoyed reading, especially historically-based novels.

Bernice served Archuleta County as a member of the County Fair Board and fair judge, a 4-H leader, a member of the Pagosa Springs Easter Star Chapter, and a founding member of the Pagosa Springs Order of Rainbow Girls.
She is survived by her sister, Phyllis, and husband, Barry Shuart; two sons, Russell and wife Roberta, Harvey and wife Kay, and one daughter, Carolyn Crowley. She is also survived by grandchildren; Kimberly (Duane) Kinion, Tami (Tom) Nothstine, Teryl (Chan) Weinmeister, David (Valera) Crowley, Shawn (Tracie) Wotowey, and Jodi Wotowey; and eight great-grandchildren.

Graveside services were held a Pagosa Springs, Colo., on July 9, 2007. Memorial contributions may be donated to the children’s home, El Ranchito de los Ninos, PO Box 2400, Los Lunas, NM 87031, or to Hospice of Larimer County, 305 Carpenter Road, Fort Collins, CO 80525.

Clola Ouida Payne Neville

Clola Ouida Payne Neville, age 98, a resident of Pine Ridge Extended Care Facility in Pagosa Springs, passed into God’s nearer presence July 9, 2007.

One of nine children, she was born to Maggie Ann Williams and Judge Thomas Taylor Payne Oct. 29, 1908, in Waldron, Ark. Mrs. Neville graduated from Okmulgee High School. She married Baird Neville of Adair, Okla., in 1933, and they enjoyed 66 years together, living in Oklahoma City, Okla.; Houston, Midland, Austin, Bandera and Kerrville, Texas. She moved to Pagosa Springs in May 1999.

An active member of the Methodist Church for most of her life, Mrs. Neville, whose first name, Clola, means “I am here” in the Cherokee language, is remembered by her friends and family for her warm and positive personality. She lit up the room with her loving and caring presence, wherever she might be. Her wonderful empathetic listening skills and gentle advice (sometimes you didn’t know you got it), seasoned with a fresh cup of coffee and her famous chocolate cookies, welcomed many a troubled friend, or family or neighbor. She intuitively knew more about psychology than any Ph.D. and her patience was amazing. She was happy wherever she might be. “Nana” was her family name, and she was the embodiment of love, which she gave freely. Her son and daughter remember her greeting each day singing, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” Her cheerful, optimistic personality had a lasting effect on all who knew her, including her wonderful family at Pine Ridge, who cared for her so lovingly for over eight years.

Mrs. Neville’s husband, Baird, passed away in 1999 in Kerrville and has been reinterred in Pagosa Springs’ Hilltop Cemetery.

Mrs. Neville is survived by her daughter, Carol Ann White, and son-in-law, James R. White, of Pagosa Springs, and son, Baird M. Neville, and daughter-in-law, Sandy Neville, of Portland, Ore. Also surviving are grandchildren, Mary Helen Cammack, and husband, David; James Neville White and wife, Leigh Gozigian; and Scott Gregory White of Pagosa Springs; Paul Hamilton Neville, and wife, Terry, of Albuquerque; and Helen Roselle Neville and husband, George Nelson, of Portland, Oregon. Her surviving great-grandchildren are Jake and Dan Cammack, Jennie and Sam White and John Baird White, of Pagosa Springs, and Maxmillien Neville Nelson, of Portland, Oregon.

A memorial service will be held at Pine Ridge, date and time pending. Contributions may be made to the Scholarship Fund in Clola’s name, at Pine Ridge Extended Care, 119 Bastille Dr., Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.


Announcements

BIRTH

Robert and Katherine Gomez are proud to announce the birth of their first child, Anthony Salomon Gomez, born in Rome, N.Y., weighing 7 pounds, 7 ounces and 20 inches long. Proud grandparents are Shelley and Bob Frye and James and Jeanette Gomez.
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LOCAL

It was a true Pagosa event as members of the Regester and Shahan families, and friends, gathered July 6 at the Extension Building to celebrate Tiger Regester’s 50th birthday. Tiger is ninth from the left in the photo.

Jeremiah E. Yerton, son of Dennis and Paula Yerton of Pagosa Springs, graduated from the University of Kansas Medical School May 19 in Lawrence, Kans. Jeremiah is a 1995 graduate of Pagosa Springs High School, and a 2003 graduate of the University of Kansas. He will be doing his residency in trauma medicine, at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore.
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David J. and Carol Brown brought their families together for a Brown family reunion the Fourth of July holiday week. Fifty-two family members spent the week at BootJack Ranch.
The Brown family has deep roots in southwest Colorado. David J. Brown’s grandfather, Harry Jackson, migrated from Germany to New Jersey, then settled in Arboles in the 1880s where he formed Jackson Hardware Company and served as the mayor of Durango. David’s mother, Harriette B. Brown, and her mother, Ella Jackson Birkheimer, were both born in Durango. David frequently visited Electra Lake, north of Durango, every summer until he and Carol purchased BootJack Ranch in 1995.

ENGAGEMENT


David R. Gonzales, son of Lucy Gonzales and the late Carl Gonzales, would like to announce his upcoming marriage to Lorie Williams, daughter of Cindy Eaklor, on July 21, 2007, at 1:30 p.m. at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church.

WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENTS

LUCERO/RIVAS

Just married! Caitlin and Daniel are proud to announce the marriage of their mom, Antoinette Lucero, to their dad, Daniel Rivas. Antoinette, daughter of Steve and Alberta Nickerson, and Daniel, son of Albert and Josie Rivas, were married at the Sonoran Sun Resort in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, on Friday, June 22, 2007.
There will be a dance held in their honor at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse Saturday, July 21, from 8 p.m. to midnight. All family and friends are invited to come and be part of this celebration.

REEVES/KAIN

Jason Kain and Allison Reeves will marry July 28, 2007, at Canyon Crest Lodge. They will honeymoon in Hawaii.
The groom’s parents are Jerrol and Bonnie Kain.
The bride’s parents are Rodney Reeves and Glynda Wood.