Food

A croqueta eating contest sounds like delicious fun — until you read the waiver

Carmen Cincotti lifts his arms in victory after eating 158 croquetas to win the World Championship Croqueta Eating Contest presented by Catalina at the El Croquetazo event during Calle Ocho on Sunday, March 12, 2017.
Carmen Cincotti lifts his arms in victory after eating 158 croquetas to win the World Championship Croqueta Eating Contest presented by Catalina at the El Croquetazo event during Calle Ocho on Sunday, March 12, 2017.

The guapos and bravas were quick to brag: I can eat more croquetas than you.

We saw them posting on social media about the upcoming El Croquetazo croqueta-eating contest at Sunday’s Calle Ocho Street Festival. Everyone suddenly became a professional croqueta eater.

Granted every Latin party becomes an impromptu croqueta-eating contest when the food arrives because this is Miami.

But let’s put this in perspective. The first obvious warning is that there are two divisions, one for amateur comelones and another for professionals from an organization called Major League Eating, which is an actual thing I did not make up.

The first year Calle Ocho held the competition, professional eater Carmen Cincotti of New Jersey ate 158 croquetas in eight minutes. That’s almost 20 croquetas a minute. See? Professional.

The winner of the amateur competition, radio DJ Jose Antonio Alvarez from 107.5 Amor, ate 14. Total.

This contest is a major-league fastball and you’re playing T-ball, papo.

“It’s harder than it looks,” advises champion eater Joey Chestnut, who will be competing with the pros Saturday. “Know that you’re not eating for fun. It’s not for a meal. It’s to beat the guy next to you.... It’ll be fun — for the first couple of minutes. The last few minutes are, ‘how bad do I want this?’”

When he came to Miami to compete two years ago, a sore throat put him of commission. He needed antibiotics.

But you think you can have six beers and step up to the plate because you’re the Latin Party Croqueta Eating Champion, and not even Joey Chestnut is going to dissuade you.

Just for fun, though, put down that croqueta long enough to read through the waiver you have to sign in order to compete in this croqueta-eating tourney. Here are some highlights, so you know what you’re getting into.

You will act like you have sense

You agree to “compete in a safe and reasonable manner” according to the waiver. Miamians can be trusted to always act in a safe and reasonable manner. Head to the Palmetto Expressway and be charmed by our judicious use of turn signals and hand gestures.

Moving on.

This is a bad idea

8 Oz. Burger Bar

“I understand the health and associated risks inherented (sic) in eating contests and in the consumption of large quantities of food and calories over both short and extended periods of time.”

We Americans are great at getting obese all on our own. Plus, it doesn’t happen often, but people do die from eating contests, usually from choking. Google it.

“Choking is always a little bit of a risk,” Chestnut said. “And then there’s aways the ‘reversal of fortune.’”

Catch that? That’s a little euphemism the pros like to use for “puking your guts out.”

You totally saw a doctor first

“I certify that I am in good health and have consulted with qualified persons in the medical profession and obtained clearance for participation in this contest...”

Anyone want to guess how this conversation might go? A one-act play starring you and your “doctor.”

[Inside a Flagami backyard efficiency. Security guard who claims he was a doctor in Cuba dons a lab coat.]

Comelón: “Hey, doc, can you certify that I’m healthy enough to eat 150 croquetas in less time than a Kenyan can run the 3000 meters?”

Doctor Croqueta: “Dale.”

[End of play]

Internet fame forever

Croqueta Cake 07 EKM
BEHOLD! The Croqueta Cake of legend. Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

“I hereby waive ... all ownership or other property rights to my performance in the contest and all related activities in perpetuity in all media whatsoever.”

Your face appears on a Croqueta Cake at the festival for the next hundred years.

Seriously, don’t Google yourself after this

You understand there will be “possibly negative portrayals by the media.”

The winner of Calle Ocho’s first croqueta-eating contest Sunday scarfed down just under 20 of the fried ham rolls per minute. Carmen Cincotti of New Jersey ate an impressive 158 croquetas in eight minutes, beating out the second-place finisher wit

See: This video my colleagues shot at the croqueta eating contest two years ago, which, I’m sure, won’t be the first result when your boss googles your name in 25 years. Also see: This entire column.

Finally...

You must meet the standards of Calle Ocho

You “must respect social norms for acceptable behavior during... the event.”

05CalleOcho_CPJ.JPG
There are almost a million people at Calle Ocho. They all JUST came from church. CARL JUSTE cjuste@miamiherald.com

All these people will be respecting social norms and displaying acceptable behavior at all times. That’s what Calle Ocho is famous for.

You’ve been Miranda’d your Croqueta Rights. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Miami Herald food editor Carlos Frías won the 2018 James Beard award for excellence in covering the food industry. A Miami native, he’s also the author of “Take Me With You: A Secret Search for Family in a Forbidden Cuba.”


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