Sunday, September 14, 2008

When You're Here You're Competition!

The weather's getting cooler, the kids are dejectedly headed back to school, the networks are proudly rolling out their finest new programming, and massive hurricanes are ravaging the Gulf Coast. It must be Fall!

If it weren't for the whole "going back to school" deal breaker, Fall would be by far my favorite season. With the lowering temperatures, I can finally start enjoying the benefits of jacket weather. I get the spiteful enjoyment of seeing many of the allergenic plants that gave me so much grief over the spring and summer slowly (and colorfully) die off. You get longer nights, the baseball playoffs, and the start of football Sundays. TV becomes more interesting again and they start rolling out the Oscar favorites in theaters. It also has two of my favorite Holidays: wicked and decadent Halloween and its uptight, straight edge, brother Election Day.

Aside from all the real obvious merits of Fall, a personal positive that always rings in the season for me is the return of Olive Garden's Never-Ending Pasta Bowl. Every year around late August to early September the OG rolls out its usual series of ads involving some clueless douche getting overwhelmed by all the various combinations of never ending pastas and sauces and the change in seasons becomes official. As a life long amateur practitioner of gluttony I can't help but admire the dedication of Olive Garden in issuing this bold challenge to the hungry, theme restaurant eating American public year in and year out. You never see TGI Fridays or Red Lobster or Chili's throwing down such a gastronomical gauntlet on the public. This year's running of the bowls is even more impressive considering the record increase in the price of wheat (and food in general) worldwide.

Although the NEPB is a time of joy and celebration, most years my enjoyment of the promotion is unfortunately curtailed. There's always the conundrum of finding a party to go with me. Unlike movies, I have yet to reconcile solo trips to sit down restaurants. A single meal by oneself is uncomfortable enough, but attempting to eat a double digit number of pasta dishes one after the other alone at a table like Mr. Creosote enters into a disturbing new level of sadness. Past experience has also taught me that bringing a date along is almost as unattractive a proposition, unless you can find someone that is willing to awkwardly sit and watch you try to stuff another plate of linguine down or is willing to go on a date to the Olive Garden in general. Really the true way to experience the Never Ending Pasta Bowl is to enter with like minded challengers. Bringing in a fellow competitor or a group of competitors eliminates the stigma of being the only gorger in the room, keeps the servers alert and busy, and, in the end, everyone pushes each other to achieve their personal best. Also, you never know if your competitive bowl stacking showdown will attract a random crowd of rowdy, gambling supporters a la "Over the Top".

So let this be my declared challenge to the world at large. During the month or so left of this promotion, I, Victor Lee, will accept any challenge from any man, woman, or carbo-loading Olympic champion to go bowl for bowl at any participating Olive Garden Restaurant. We'll pick a date, get a table, and trade dish after dish until one side capitulates. Any combination of sauce and pasta is open and there'll be unlimited salad and bread sticks at the eater's risk. The winner will pick up the other's $8.95 tab along with drinks. If you can beat me I'll even pay for any incidental stomach pumping required. Warning to all, don't take me lightly just cause I'm a skinny Asian guy.

I'll see you at the faux-Tuscan themed dining hall!


  1. I am so strongly considering this.

    I just don't know if I'll be able to palate one of these things, let alone double-digits. Might need a tiral run first.

  2. Well, you're always nagging me about my lack of participation in social events.

    I'll get started on drawing up the Facebook event...


  4. BTW-references to truly terrible fare such as Over the Top is just low. that scene is like some extreme homo-erotic nightmare and/or fantasy

  5. Ain't nothing wrong with a couple of guys engaging in some consensual arm wrestling.