Saturday, March 27, 2010

Eating Voyeurism at Cafe Gutenburg

It's not every night I see someone do something I've never seen before, but I don't want to jump the gun.

Like other food voyeurs, I went down to Cafe Gutenburg tonight for the 1st Annual Tofu-Eating contest to celebrate their one year anniversary because, you know, nothing says celebration like vegetarian gluttony.

The tofu trash-talking was already in progress when I got my wristband and found a prime viewing location.

There were ten contestants, evenly divided between the sexes; there was the guy with the Swiss cheese hat, the girl with the sequined shoulder pads, the guy with the samurai headband and others who just wore their everyday look.

The chosen ten had twelve minutes to eat four pounds of tofu scramble and if the weight doesn't give you some idea of the size of the portions, I was told that they came in at about three quarts each.


Once the contest began, the cheerleading started in full force.

"Find your spirit animal!" when a contestant took a momentary break from eating.

"H2 NO!" when a contestant dared to drink water and take up valuable stomach space.

"Shake it out!" when a contestant stood to stretch.

"That's the way!" when a contestant burped eight minutes in, trying to make more room.

Of the ten, three chose to eat with their hands for speed's sake.

Getting close to the end (and, just so you know, twelve minutes is interminable whether you're competing or watching a tofu-eating contest) one girl got a stricken look on her face and then vomited into her hand.

Being a trooper, however, she ate it (she'd have been disqualified otherwise).

The guy next to me looked at me and said, "She's eating what she threw up!" causing another guy nearby to respond, "She's my hero."

After twelve minutes, their troughs were assessed and the emptiest-looking three taken to the back to be weighed.

The winner was cheese-head guy, who had declared before the start that he'd never eaten tofu before; apparently this was to psyche out his fellow contestants.

And he even used a fork.

Needless to say, the one thing I wasn't going to eat after such an event was tofu, but I was hungry despite what I'd seen.

Gull was setting up to play and despite how many times I've seen Nate perform, I never get tired of a man who can play guitar, drums and sing simultaneously.

So I did order the Gulf Shrimp Nicoise with grilled shrimp, romaine hearts, baby green beans, plum tomatoes and a lemon-caper dressing, which had a unique flavor and really complemented the salad, much like the way Gull's music complemented my meal.

One of the contestants came over to talk to me while I ate, rubbing her belly and telling me how stuffed she felt, even pointing to the area of her body where she said all that tofu was now lodged.

I can't imagine any of them will be able to look at tofu for a while; I know I won't be able to.

So I got to see something new tonight. It might have even come close to the time I saw a girl throw up into her hair at a show in Norfolk, but it couldn't quite match the spectacle I saw tonight.

Happy anniversary, Cafe Gutenburg, and many happy returns.

I'm thinking your tofu scramble should become the featured item on the menu from here on out...if nothing else, for sentimental reasons.


  1. I THOUGHT that was you I saw, but I was busy stuffing face (I was wearing the red shirt with the napkin tucked into it). When we were done, I didn't see you, so I thought you left. I was proud not to have thrown up and to have made a respectable dent. My write up will be up hopefully tomorrow or Monday about it on RVANews.

  2. And I THOUGHT that was you, but I don't go around outing tofu-eating contestants. You should be proud not to have thrown up. You ate a lot of freakin' tofu!

    Always check the bar if you're looking for me; it's my preferred place to eat and get talked to by random strangers.

  3. one has often wondered how tofu trash talking would go:
    "go eat some additives!"
    "oh yeah? eat meat!"

  4. I got roped into spectating by another competitor, Emily Harry. She lived close to Twin Oaks for a stretch, so she figured she could pack in the tofu. She downed about 2lbs before taking a break while the guy next to her ejected his stomachful back into his tofu trough. Unfortunately, I my son Jasper with me and we couldn't really get a good view of the action. Good job, Holly. Hope you're not spoiled for tofu. I took some of Emily's home and the stuff was among the best tofu I can remember having. We actually made it into tofu empanadas for a potluck the next day. Sorry, I didn't get to meet you, Karen. Me and Jasper were the ones with the tofu block on a stick as our prop.

  5. I remember the tofu block on a stick, but I had no idea it was you.
    I saw Twin Oaks tofu on the menu at Balliceaux last night and it brough back the whole evening for me, not that I'm likely to forget it any time soon!