Tuesday, April 26, 2011

IEM Session #16.5

Inhuman Eating Machine official rules and guidelines

(Continued from 16.4)

Eating Day: March 19, 2011, of course

SMART ALEC'S INTELLIGENT FOOD- 2355 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, 1:55pm- Superior Chef Salad - $6.95

Photos by Tigerlily

This was the salad stop I was dreading. If anything was going to break me on this session, it would be the salad here. Their entry is almost identical to the salad just up the street at Cafe Intermezzo, but Smart Alec's offers more dressing choices, more protein add-in options, and wheat berries as a default salad topping. Smart Alec's also offers some kind of freebie to students that bring in a good report card. Alec's is not a chain, as far as I can tell, but it somehow has a very chain-y feel to it. This is probably due to the pro-looking wall menu and their emphasis on their air-cooked fries, which seem like the domain of an enterprising multinational bent on capturing students seeking healthy dining options. Unlike Intermezzo, which has a very Berkeley-looking staff that undoubtedly smells of cumin, the counter girls at Smart Alec's always look they could have been extras in an Avril Lavigne video. While the hippies at Intermezzo actually make the salads, Smart Alec's food is prepared by Spanish-speakers in the back (like at almost every other restaurant in the Bay Area.) It is strange that two establishments that truck in identical food offerings (sandwiches and massive salads) can have such completely different "vibes," even though they are only two blocks apart.

Other than wheat berries, the Smart Alec's Superior Chef salad contains romaine, corn niblets, tomato slices, carrot coins, edamame, alfalfa sprouts (aka "the splooge of the plant kingdom"), an entire hardboiled egg, half an avocado, garbanzo beans, and croutons. Plus, you get your choice of protein from a list that includes grilled chicken, roast turkey, sliced turkey, hummus, a veggie burger, baked tofu, and a hamburger patty. I opted for the burger, as it seemed charred beef might counteract the roughage's imminent digestive "corollaries." The patty was easily a quarter pounder. Although it was overcooked for my tastes, it was relentlessly juicy and flavorful. I considered it a great addition.

It is hard to tell from the photo, but the salad here is absolutely behemoth. The thing weighs well over 2lbs, possibly 3lbs. Most sane people will make three or more meals out of this concoction. In the Mountain or Central time zone, where cole slaw is considered a health food, the Superior Chef would be enough salad to feed an entire family reunion at a rented picnic area in a city park. While the ingredients of Alec's salad are not up to the organic, seasonal, locally-grown, heirloom pedigree of some of the salads I ate earlier in the day, there is no denying that the Superior Chef is a great buy. Compared to a salad you'd receive at a steak house in the Midwest, it is absolutely a masterwork of modern greenery construction. The multitude of textures belies the fact that you are "just eating a salad." It is beyond comprehension that this salad is thrice the size of some I ate on this session, while ringing up as the least expensive offering of the journey. I don't care if the ingredients on the Tomate salad were grown in a monastery in the San Joaquin Valley and hand-delivered to the restaurant's door by the monks. There is no justification for their salad to cost $2.55 more than the Smart Alec's offering.

A salad of such proportions is a wonderful gift in most applications, but it was a tribulation during this session. I correctly assumed that finishing this salad would result in the skin surrounding my abdomen nearing laceration. I am sure my midriff has stretch marks with this salad's name on it. What I did not bargain for was the intense jaw pain I experienced eating this beast. All the chewing had left my entire face throbbing, as if I had been suckerpunched. Unlike certain session meals, it would have been ill-advised to try and swallow the salad with only a perfunctory chew. I had to thoroughly chomp every bite, lest I become a Heimlich Maneuver candidate. It took me at least an hour to finish this vegetable leviathan. Smart Alec's would be as far as I could eat for a while.

I was beginning to feel occasional violently effervescent episodes below my belt. Since Smart Alec's boasts one of the only restrooms on Telegraph Ave. accessible to customers, I decided to avail myself of their facilities, even though the urge to discharge had not yet reached DefCon 5. Despite the sign on the bathroom wall admonishing, "Do not use more toilet paper than you need. Toilet has a tendency to overflow," the bowl was filled with a massive mound of TP and excreta. I suspected the assemblage was going nowhere without considerable attention I was unwilling to devote in my condition. Regardless, I jostled the wad a little with the plunger and then flushed, hoping the commode could manage the massive volume of filth. Instead, the accumulation just rose in the toilet, resting millimeters from the rim. Fearing the worst, I fled the lavatory.

This failed attempt at plumbing took quite a few minutes. My fecal necessity was now becoming crucial. First, I bandied the idea of going to Lily's place a few blocks away to sully her bathroom. This notion was dashed, however, because Chris had already lit back there to perform the very same function! Lily suggested we go to Barrows Hall at UC where KALX is located. The building is only a few blocks away from Smart Alec's, but I had tremendous difficulty completing this walk with my contents intact. I had to stop every few steps to clench. This trek was as agonizing as when Christ was led on foot to Golgotha dragging his own cross. This whole affair showed me, though, that my sphincter control seems to have increased at my advance age. In the past, I wouldn't have made it across Bancroft without a leg full of excrement, yet I reached the campus restroom with my boxer briefs relatively unscathed.

I flung myself upon the throne and set to work immediately. The job, a conglomeration of pretzel logs marinating in original-flavor Gatorade, was finished almost instantly. I sat there panting from my ordeal. Hunched over, I noticed that there were thousands of ants walking on and around the wall inches from my left foot. Normally, I would have leapt from the stool in terror and burst from the stall without regard for wiping or pants-fastening. In my condition, though, I could do little but watch the ants go about their business and drift closer into a rectally-induced coma.


hswell said...

This post was the perfect opportunity for a salad shooter joke. Too obvious?

Chilebrown said...

OH shit, I cried reading this.