Friday, September 14, 2012
The Great Gastronome
Ebb Floyd wasn't exactly a big, fat man. Few people in his day were fat. But ol' Ebb could eat. There was no one around who could eat more and eat faster than this ravenous tenant farmer from the heart of Georgia. This short, stout, and merry gastronome had a sweet tooth for his favorite foods sweet potato custard pies and sugar cane.
It was just before Thanksgiving back in 1888 when Ebb Floyd found himself at a log-r0lling contest. After the competition was over, the participants set down for a tasty supper. To finish off the grand meal, fifteen custard pies were set out. Everyone knew that the sweet potato desserts were among Floyd's favorites. So, one man dared Floyd to eat half of them.
The pie afficionado accepted the challenge, vowing to swallow at least ten of the orange pies. Floyd encircled himself with ten succulent sweet potato pie plates and commenced to move in a clockwise direction. One down, then two, then three, four and five. Ebb kept on stuffing them down. Six down, seven, eight gone, nine and then ten pies gulped. The crowd roared!
The last five were put in front of him. Three were devoured in short order. That's when the agony began. The last two eventually found their way to the bottom of the big eater's belly. Ebb Floyd received no award that evening, other than winning the bet and winning it big, not to mention stuffing his belly full of his favorite food.
A few weeks later, Ebb accepted another good opportunity to stuff himself. Not to be outdone, Ebb set his sights on a Thanksgiving feast. After downing a stomach- stuffing dinner of Thanksgiving turkey, dressing and the traditional fixings, Floyd ventured over to a neighbor's house for a cane eating contest. Ebb knew that he was not going to be able to move at all after the end of the gorging, so he planned on finding a soft spot and collapsing onto it.
Word of Ebb's ravenous eating skills brought out a large audience to see just how much sugar cane, the master feaster Ebb Floyd, could eat at one sitting. As a less than satisfying appetizer, the gobbling glutton consumed fourteen stalks of sugar cane. Then for supper, Ebb nearly got his fill consuming an old fashioned Thanksgiving supper, complete with possums saturated with thick gravy and complimented with dozens of sugary yams.
To make things interesting, the host announced a cane-eating contest and invited all comers to sit down and chew as many stalks as they could. To make things more interesting, a school teacher spoke up and suggested that the contest be one of speed more than endurance. And, to make it more interesting, the teacher proffered a wager that Ebb Floyd could not chew three stalks in under ten minutes. Ebb, a ceaseless gourmand, readily accepted the bet.
The teacher, attempting to hedge his bet a little, picked up three nice-sized stalks, laid them out in front of Ebb, pulled out his watch, and announced it was time to begin. Ebb took only five minutes to chew, chomp and gnaw two stalks into mush. Already feeling the pains of his previous meals that day, Ebb picked up his pace. The third and final stalk succumbed in a mere two minutes.
Then, that's where the fun began. Gamblers conceived of more and more interesting wagers to test Ebb Floyd's inherent ability to eat well more than the average man. With the debate as to Floyd's ability to rapidly chew sugar cane settled, an observer offered to wager, two to one, that the exceptional eater could not swallow a quart of sugar cane juice without taking a breath. Ebb grabbed the jug and chugged it's contents down in less than sixty seconds. To prove his point and double his winnings, Ebb guzzled an extra pint of the nearly pure sugar liquid just for good measure.
Still there were those who believed ol' Ebb could drink still more. A smaller sugar cane mill was brought in. Twenty stalks were run through the hand cranked mill, generating three more gallons of juice. He guzzled it all down. To top off the day of frequent feasts, Ebb Floyd vowed that he would take the twenty smashed stalks and eat all of them before retiring to bed. Another wild roar went up in the room. Vowing not to even show an effects of his daily dessert, Ebb sat down next to his last few morsels of the day. Howling doubters couldn't leave without satisfying their belief that no one man could eat that much in a single day.
Ebb opened his mouth and began to chew. One stalk of cane after another was slowly and methodically stripped of it sheath and leaves. The pile of remnants began to grow as the pile of the remaining stalks diminished at the average rate of one every three and one half minutes. Finally, the astonishing eating exhibition was over.
Ebb Floyd was hailed as the hero of Twiggs, much in the same category of generals, governors, and politicians who have hailed from the nucleus of the Peach State. Those who once doubted Floyd's superior eating ability sent out the word far and wide, that Ebb Floyd could out eat any man in the country, no matter what the food may be.
After his few fleeting moments of fame, Ebb Floyd never appeared in the headlines of newspapers around the country as he did in those days of that November when he was one of the world's greatest gastronomes.