I’ve heard of people playing with food. But never food playing with people.
That was pretty much my story at The Ugly Rooster Cafe. I broke bread at breakfast in Mechanicville with Ariel Pagan, and the chef’s Colossal Pancake Challenge nearly broke me.
It should have been a closer contest. I once knocked off eight beef on kimmelwick sandwiches during a dreary Sunday night inside the dining hall at noble St. Bonaventure University, both impressing and disgusting my collegiate pals. So I had some credentials.
And not to waffle here, but I’m not a pancake guy. I’d have had better luck with a 3-pound omelette loaded with peppers, onions and cheese, smothered in ketchup. The 5-pound pancake platter, with a pound of strawberries and big scoops of butter and whipped cream, quickly filled me up.
To read about other extreme eating opportunities for burgers, pizza and sandwiches, click here.
The Ponderosa’s cook used to complain about Hoss Cartwright eating all his pancakes on the old “Bonanza” television show. I’ll bet old Hoss couldn’t finish the Pagan plate — even with help from Adam and Little Joe.
“C’mon, you’re going at it like a gourmet,” said Pagan, as I used a knife and fork in the early going. There was no way I was going to use both hands to stuff pancake and strawberry pieces into my mouth. Slow and steady wins the race, as Aesop used to say.
A few locals who had finished their breakfasts stuck around to see the floor show. “It’s always fun to see people suffer,” one of the men said, with a big smile. “I like to see the confidence fade to panic,” added his friend.
I got rid of the fruit first. Then I mixed pieces of pancake with dabs of butter and whipped cream, hoping the lubrication would let things slide a little easier. The plan didn’t seem to work. I could feel my 8 a.m. weight of 220 pounds increase to about 223 pounds by 10:30 a.m.
A woman sitting next to me, eating a small plate of home fries and eggs, looked at me with a straight face as I kept on shoveling. I hope I didn’t spoil her appetite.
I didn’t take the whole 30 minutes. At about 25 minutes, I cursed Gold Medal and Bisquick and cut the cake. I left about half the now-disected pancakes on the plate — I doubt even a crow would have picked at the mess — and became victim 118.
“I was hoping you’d finish,” said one of the waitresses. “It would have been easier to clean the plate.”