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The PhoDown

March 17, 2011 · 85 comments

The battle lines were drawn.

Loose fitting clothing was donned.

Afternoon tea was shunned.

The rules of engagement were produced and agreed to.

The day of reckoning was upon us. It was time for the Pho Down.

The official rules (sharing is for cheaters!)

Chris of Bon Viveur, Apex of Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse and I rendezvoused last night to fight the good fight in the battle of food blogger vs. food, taking on the Pho Eating Competition held every Wednesday night in March for Eat Drink Perth.

Our confidence took its first hit when we read the rules and discovered we would only have 20 minutes to complete the task of finishing a jumbo sized bowl of pho.

It took its second hit when we saw just how big a jumbo sized bowl of pho actually is. Filled with almost a kilo of rice noodles, lashings of sliced beef and beef balls, enough broth to bathe a small child in and garnished with a paddock of been sprouts, it was a sight to behold. The waitstaff must have been training for weeks to carry them out.

The air was rich with the fragrance of beef broth and bravado.

So many people, so many wasted noodles

Now before you get too excited, I of course had to complicate matters and do my own version of the challenge. Jumbo Pho, hold the beef. Luckily they could make up a version that used chicken meat with a combination of chicken and pork stock, but this took a decent amount of pleading with our waitress. Once they realised I was happy to not have my attempt count officially (they were clearly fearful of my eating abilities) then they were happy to oblige, and our orders were in.

No turning back now, the aPHOcalypse was about to descend upon us.

Smiling through the fear, and stealing a beer from my housemate momentarily for size comparison (top photo courtesy of Chris from Bon Viveur)

It is difficult to properly capture the size of these bowls. They were massive. I have a pretty decent sized head and I think these bowls were bigger. I’m sure there’s some rule about not eating anything bigger than your head.

After a good few minutes of eating our food blogger instincts took over momentarily and we wasted valuable time posing for a series of photographs on everyone’s cameras. This did however have the bonus of allowing the burningly hot soup to cool ever so slightly, though not quite enough as I soon learnt that gorging hot noodles whilst hunched over an enormous steaming bowl on a warm Perth night is a sweaty business. If only we’d had the foresight to bring fan slaves (minus the feeding of grapes)!

Wasting valuable time posing for photographs. Fools!

As the end of our twenty minutes grew closer is became all too apparent that this task was beyond any of us. Our consumption rate slowed noticeably and food babies began gestating. Apex began doing an impeccable impersonation of a child with something on their plate they don’t like but they think if they move it around enough it might magically disappear.

It pained us, both literally and figuratively, but we eventually admitted defeat. I was declared the winner, but I don’t think there was much in it between Chris and I. Apex, bless her, didn’t have much luck with her stirring technique but she definitely had the least amount of broth left in her bowl. I suspected her skills must lie in competitive drinking. We shall have to test this theory.

The wash up... me in front, Apex in the middle, and Chris up the back.

As we sat forlornly contemplating our bowls, Matt of Abstract Gourmet arrived to breathe new hope into our group. Victory could still be ours!

Unfortunately, despite demonstrating an impressive rate of consumption he also failed in his quest, though he did succeed in inspiring the invention of a new brow mopping technique.

The patented pho brow mop (photo courtesy of Chris from Bon Viveur)

They may take our will to eat rice noodles ever again, but they’ll never take our ability to look good whilst bursting at the seams!

The Contenders, post PhoDown (photo courtesy of Chris)

Others were more successful in their pho quests, with this guy looking suspiciously calm after wolfing down his dinner. We also witnessed the first successful completion by a female, who didn’t look quite so calm. I stopped watching her after joining in the applause as I’m not good with vomit.

We have a winner!

After paying our $20 penalties for non-completion, and feeling quite bad about the incredible amount of wasted food we had just contributed to, we took a brief digestive stroll up the road before employing our second dessert stomachs at Icey Ice. I discovered to my dismay that all of the snow ice options, even the plain green tea one, contain milk and thus are a no-go on my current lactose-free FODMAP diet, though I consoled myself with some green tea with sago pearls.

Apex and Chris putting their dessert stomachs to good use

A fun night was had by all, and it was great to meet Apex for the first time although I fear our friendship may forever be sullied with her first impression of me as a sweaty glutton. Good as always to see Chris and Matt, whom I have gluttonised with enough times now for it to be a non-issue.

Check out the write-ups by Chris, Apex and Matt to relive the magic again.

And whilst I’m in the spirit of Eat Drink Perth, I guess I should share a little something with you. A little something that is apparently being shown on the enormous screen in the Northbridge Piazza as part of the Foodie Blogger Profiles that also include Matt, though sadly his video includes no brow mopping.

(I have to add, I was watching updates about the situation in Japan as I typed this, and can’t help but feel terribly guilty that I could participate in such food wasting folly when they are struggling through such a heartbreaking situation. If you can spare any cash, two options for where to send your donations are the Australian Red Cross and Save the Children Australia.)

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