Consummate dilettantism!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Cult of the Food

I have always been renowned for the speed at which I eat. But I don't think I have a greater stomach or mouth capacity; I have simply acquired a set of techniques that enable me to eat much more quickly than a normal human being.

Of course, these steps should only be used if you want or have to eat quickly. They should not be used, obviously, if you're eating something like sharp tortilla chips or chicken wings (these situations are in fact quite different). I take no responsibility if you choke to death or otherwise kill or horribly injure yourself by stupidly assuming the role of Master Eater with no experience in these sacred ways. I will, however, vouch for their effectiveness; they do work. (Seriously, though, if you have little experience in eating very quickly you should not do what I tell you to do here!) But they can be addictive; once you have acquired the distilled wisdom of the ages presented herein, you may not be able to revert to the inefficient methods of the rabble. As Zen Buddhism is open only to the wise, so too is rapid eating open only to those of a philosophical mind and a jaw of steel. You should have a reason. These techniques are not for the faint of heart.

This is your chance to take the blue pill. Take the red pill and be led down a dark, spiraling hole of knowledge that may well lead to your expulsion from the Garden of Eden. That said, here are some techniques:

1. I do not use the knife to cut. Rather, I use the knife to hold the food still while I rip a chunk therefrom with my fork. This requires fewer steps and generally facilitates food consumption.

2. I do not drink while eating. This would seem counter-intuitive; it is not. Drinking requires swallowing one's food, putting down one's utensils, lifting the glass, drinking from the glass, and putting down the glass. Perhaps 10 seconds are wasted on this maneuver in a fast eater, and up to 30 in a slow one. I wait until the end of the meal to drink. If you need water to help you swallow, you need more practice.

3. The necessity of excessive chewing is much exaggerated. It is a myth that you need to expend 35 (!) wasteful cycles of jaw movement (otherwise known as chewing) before you swallow. I typically chew relatively solid food (pizza, ground meat) no more than 5 times before swallowing. If your goal is to eat more quickly, your food should not be pasty when you swallow! Eliminating excessive chewing will do more than anything else to improve the rate at which you eat.

4. I maintain an ungodly concentration on the food at hand (when I am not in the presence of others with whom I like to talk). Eating need not be a passive endeavor; utmost effort is required to consume food quickly.

5. When I am in a hurry, I will move more quickly. Usually, however, I do not. Eating quickly does not require moving quickly, but moving quickly does indeed improve one's eating speed.

6. Maintain full mouth capacity at all times! There is no need to give your mouth a break, just as there is no need to give your legs a break when you're walking, or your arms when you're writing (of course, in longer sessions there will be a need to do so, but these situations are quite rare). One's cheeks should be bulging at every second, and the shoveling of food into the mouth should be undertaken at a rate similar to that at which swallowing is performed. When you swallow, you should have a forkful of food waiting to enter your mouth.

Let's answer the question I had posed in the title of an earlier version of this article: What is the limiting factor of food consumption? It is mastication speed. Swallowing and insertion of food into the mouth can be done much faster than chewing can be. Essentially, ceteris paribus (and as you can see from the steps, this is not a given), how quickly one can chew determines how quickly one can eat. Mouth capacity, however, must not be overlooked. It is important to realize that unless the size of your mouth is not proportional to your the width of teeth, your chewing generally acts on whatever you have in your mouth at the time. In other words, you are wasting jaw cycles if your mouth is not at maximum capacity.

Here are the formulae:

Provided that M (mouth capacity) is directly proportional to some standard T (teeth width) (M∝T) and that the mouth is full, the maximum speed at which one can eat food under ideal conditions (see above) can be roughly modeled by:

(C (grams/second) - F (grams/second)) = E (grams/second)

C is mastication speed, F is food resistance (measured by the loss in mastication speed; if the food were so hot, sharp, acidic, or disgusting as to cause you to pause for a second for every gram you ate, F would have a value of 1), and E is eating speed. This formula only applies when C < W (swallowing speed). When C > W (very rare), the formula below should obviously be used:

(W (grams/second) - F (grams/second)) = E (grams/second)

As C and W are the limiting factors, they represent the base rates of these equations. Provided that they remain so, one can more accurately model eating speed as such:

(C or W) - F - Σ(Sx, x = 1, 6) = E

S is the array of techniques outlined above. When they are implemented perfectly, each has a value of 0, and the equation simply becomes (C or W) - F = E. But the techniques usually are not, and so each adds a little resistance to the base rate.


I could write more, but I'm kinda tired. Somnio, ergo sum!

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