Ever wonder how many slices you could stomach in eight minutes? Ten of the tri-state area’s hungriest and bravest have found their magic numbers. A very serious pizza eating competition was held at 2:00pm on September 18th as a part of the 87th annual Feast of San Gennaro. Located in Little Italy, the eleven-day celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples is NYC’s largest and most famous religious festival. Other Feast highlights included a grand procession, a blood drive, and of course, a cannoli eating contest.
Some pizza participants were established competitive eaters, but not everyone was able to boast 147 meatballs in a ten minute period. Courageous were the inexperienced few who had NOT just won the “linguine championship” for having consumed five and a half pounds of pasta in seven minutes. The event announcer, a quick-witted old man, spoke almost painfully slowly in his introductions of every contestant–which definitely had the desired dramatic effect. Anticipation mounted as the participants mounted the stage one by one to much applause, each presumably sizing one another up.
Once everyone was given their first pie, the clock started, and contestants furiously tore into their boxes. It seemed everyone had a different approach. One guy stacked four slices on top of each other and ate slowly; others wolfed down individual pieces more quickly. Some were jovial, dancing to the ever-cheesy (pun intended) “That’s Amore” that played in the background, while others maintained a highly-focused demeanor.
The ultimate victor was a very triumphant Lisa, defending the title she earned back in 2012 and inhaling a pie and a half. I must say, given her size (and gender), I did not expect her success. After Lisa was crowned champion, I overheard a man in the back yelling, “It was rigged! It was rigged!” I suppose that’s not out of the question. Conspiracy theories are bound to sprout up after an underdog wins twice in a row. Nevertheless, I’d like to think the guys at Fiat, the event’s primary sponsor, have a little more integrity than that.
During the contest, I wedged my way up to the very front for a bit, praying I wouldn’t leave covered in vomit. Most people were seated in the dozens of chairs set up for the event, so I watched the majority of the proceedings while eating an appropriately-sized Rubirosa personal pizza, naturally. The woman to my right asked if I’m training for next year. Sadly, despite my intense love of all things pizza, I just don’t have the gut(s).
By: Emily Giove