French onion soup with black coffee at Spring Garden Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.
Ever since my move to Philadelphia, I've experienced a strange mix of hot, humid days and very stormy days. During an exploration of a local neighborhood near the art museums, a sudden rainstorm ushered my girlfriend and I into a random market with a small restaurant section in the back. Because of the sudden rain, I was craving something warm and ended up with the house french onion soup and a black coffee. It was perfect.
This craving led me to try several other french onion soups at various levels of sobriety in different eateries across Philadelphia. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with this dish but there has been a constant craving for it since. Unfortunately, the ones I've tried following the original have failed to capture the magic of the first one at that cafe.
This feeling somewhat embodies how I've felt about competitive eating lately. It seems like a dying passion, that the magic I remember from first involving myself in the many facets of the activity have waned. The victories from the past feel like a faded glory and I've had other endeavors to distract me.
It's no surprise that I've been in a bit of a slump lately. Despite doing a few contests, challenges and consistently posting to youtube, I felt that I really haven't given it my all since losing at tater tots last month and probably even before that. Crif Dogs felt half-hearted to me, that despite being the most serious competition of my eating career, the effort I put into it at the day of the event felt like a fraction of what I put into training for it.
The results speak for themselves.
From my personal training metrics, my capacity is down to about 70% of what it was a year ago, nearly back down to where I was after I first started competitively eating. And from watching myself eat, my technique has been pretty sloppy too. This is not a good way to start after moving to a place with a higher frequency of eating contests and a very strong field of competitive eaters to fill the tables.
Though at the very least there is some inspiration. After some philosophical conversations with Kobayashi and a couple eaters I greatly admire, I've come to realize that I need to treat competitive eating as a true discipline. It isn't just about entertaining the people watching you but improving yourself after every event and sticking to a plan for improvement. Everything else is simply ancillary.
I suppose that I now feel a some what rekindled passion for competitive eating and that finally settling in at my new place in Philadelphia should lend some consistency to my training again. Hopefully this will translate into wins at the competition table and better eating challenge videos for youtube. Perhaps it isn't just the french onion soup I've been craving.