Phallic Pizza? We’re All Screwed

RESEARCHERS at Cornell University have found heterosexual men eat far more food than usual when on a date; their study was based on attendance at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, and anyone who’s ever had anything to do with these snouts-in-the-trough establishments knows patrons see gluttony as the only path to value for money. Even so, the message that excessive pizza consumption breeds sex appeal is frightening. If it’s true, we’re probably all screwed.

I don’t know what’s sadder: the fact that erudite and supposedly learned folk at the prestigious Cornell University wasted time and money on an “academic” study any fool could have foreseen the result from, or the predictable truth that men, confronted by both food and a new woman, engorge themselves on the former to appeal to the latter in a ritual that probably harks all the way back to Neanderthal Man and the Stone Age.

A piece of reading from the Murdoch press I encountered during the week simultaneously mocks the supposed rigours of certain branches of academia whilst belling the cat on the fact that the more thought police and chardonnay swillers try to change things, the more they stay the same: that men, or at least some of us, feel they will be judged on the volume of food they can consume is a moot point. Whether women will be impressed or not is open to interpretation.

Stereotypically, a similar phenomenon supposedly occurs where alcohol consumption is concerned. Let’s not go there. Too much food and too much booze, together, can be a recipe for truly voluminous and literally bilious consequences.

Those who peruse the little gem from Uncle Rupert’s scribe will note that insofar as the “research” was concerned, it didn’t matter whether the participants were helping themselves to pizza from the buffet, or salad; in front of a date, the guys ate 93% more pizza than they did with male friends, and this over-indulgence remained reasonably constant when the salad was wheeled out, as they ate 86% more of that too than when in male company.

Personally, the idea of eating a ton of salad isn’t my thing, but the takeout here — lovely term, excuse the pun — is that these are men on a mission. Presumably, and in keeping with this research, if served ground glass with the possibility of a score in prospect, those of us with the y chromosome would eat that too.

Still, the finding has possibilities: after all, if the researchers have inadvertently stumbled onto some kind of universal culinary-sexual constant, then presumably men can gorge themselves on natural oysters and Reuben sandwiches and pate and still end up at their preferred destination — and enjoy those delicacies up to 93% more than usual to boot.

And the worst thing the girls included in the study had to say about it was that they felt “rushed,” which is probably understandable when your date is eating up to 93% more than you in the same sitting. But if that’s as bad as it gets, then fellas — go for your lives!

But on the basis the Cornell boys (and they would be boys wouldn’t they? Surely this reeks of self-justification) were really onto something, this whole exercise throws up (sorry, those puns!) some horrific imagery and some dreadful final outcomes.

I like pizza. In Melbourne — the food capital of the southern hemisphere, and home to hundreds of thousands of Italians — there is pizza everywhere, and on my little patch in Melbourne sits the best single outlet pizza joint I have ever encountered. In recent times I have found myself eating more pizza than normal (maybe even 93% more than normal) but this is for the decidedly unromantic reason that I’ve badly messed up defrosting things I intended to cook.

You can’t do much with a nice rib fillet steak for example, in the pan and cooked to medium-rare perfection in butter with a few herbs, if it’s frozen solid when you get in at night.

So I have seen a few more Super Supremes of late (double the anchovies and halve the capsicum, if you will) than I would like. But the idea that — if on the prowl — I’d stuff myself senseless to impress a girl? I don’t think so.

I’ve seen the end destination of this particular ship, and it’s never pretty; having spent my university years working in a chain of well-known all-you-can-eat restaurants, I travelled to work by train as often as not: and evidence of the bucketloads of all-you-can-eat nosh that must have seemed like such a good idea on the way in often gave form to depressingly frequent encounters with huge piles of undigested food involuntarily regurgitated as I made my way gingerly past and out of the train station.

Of course, they were just the ones I happened upon; it’s the way of such things that where there are some, there are almost always others. Were all of these misadventures with a licence to eat oneself into a stupor the product of amorous men propelled by the raw fuel of bawdy lust? God knows.

But speaking of lust, and sex appeal, and the whole what-do-I-have-to-do-to-get-you-naked caper, what use is there filling up until you’re (literally) about to explode if it hobbles your ability to engage in “other antics” afterwards? At least those nameless piles that were once food, procured at a flat rate and devoured with a view to bankrupting a restaurant on food costs, were encountered in a public place.

How welcome — or sensuous — would they be suddenly appearing as a third wheel, mid-crescendo, in a bed that was built for two?

And of course, if the troughs of limitless sustenance survive the digestive process, another eventual outcome is as much of a mood killer as the regurgitated version.

As Jennifer Paterson of Two Fat Ladies fame once observed, anything is better than going to the gym: I agree, and in any case, the new research coming out of Cornell suggests such lunacy is a waste of time anyway — at least where questions of impressing the opposite sex are concerned.

But where questions of love, romance, and the art of seduction are concerned, all of us have turned our minds to these things at various junctures and with varying degrees of success; and all of us know that idiot-simple answers — like eating oneself to death — are the human equivalent of snake oil, and that some simple distillation of truth is as elusive as the meaning of life itself.

Still, if you’re a bloke, go and fill up on as much pizza as you can: you’ll never know your luck until you try it.

Oh, and for the poor unfortunate girls who find themselves condemned to sit through such a ridiculous charade, don’t let your men make you feel as if there’s any reason to rush. There’s not. After all, the only immediate outcome from an eating contest at speed will be the last thing you’ll find romantic or sexy, let alone appetising.