My editor had the “fun” idea to do the Macho’s Fast Mexican Food nachos challenge. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, it’s essentially eating a cafeteria tray piled with a mountain of tortilla chips made with corn from all of Nebraska’s cornfields. On top of the chips sits a mound of beef, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, and refried beans, garnished with five fire-roasted poblanos. All of this had to be consumed in one hour. The prize for conquering the nachos was a free nachos, an extra free meal, a photo on the wall, and the most beautiful red Fruit of the Loom winners shirt I’ve ever seen.
The plan was for my editor, Sean Moriarty, our 6-foot-4 beer columnist, and me to tackle the challenge together. But when we got to the restaurant, the Macho’s overlords told us the should-have-been group effort could only be attempted by one chump.
My editor only eats about three things total, so she was out. (Ed. note: It’s technically like, four things total, but whatever.) We would have had to pay Moriarty a freelance fee to do it, but... budgets... so I was the one chosen to participate in the MACHO-chism. Luckily, I didn’t have to buy my own margaritas. At this point, I had no idea what the insurmountable plate of nachos would look like. As the Macho’s chef was assembling the dish with his 3E-series John Deere, I had butterflies in my stomach from anticipation – butterflies that would soon be savagely murdered by the weight of what was once my favorite bar snack.
The plate that arrived was absolutely absurd. We estimated the nachos weighed as much as a “Loony Tunes” anvil. I knew instantly there is no way that I, nor the entire ‘85 Bears defensive line, nor Satan himself (who I’m pretty sure invented the recipe) would be able to complete this challenge. I was instantly relieved that I only had to do this for an hour, because that meant there would be a time limit to my suffering. The real challenge at this point was not to die. But I was still willing to give it the “ol’ college try.” Moriarty said the best strategy was to eat as fast as possible before my brain realized my stomach was full. Seemed legit.
At 3:25 p.m., I began shoveling it in. At 3:29 p.m., I was scared for myself. The nachos tasted good at first. The chips were warm and crunchy with a generous portion of toppings on each. Too generous. Now, normally I like a hefty pile of the accouterments on each nacho, but this was too much. An individual chip weighed the same amount as a dirty diaper. The combo of the beans, guac, and sour cream was the same consistency as the inside of a dirty diaper, too.
I knew early on I needed salsa. Even though I was essentially adding more food to the impossible amount I had to eat, the nachos were so creamy that spice and tang were necessary to break it up. My margarita, which was fresh and citrusy, was the only thing I enjoyed after about 10 minutes of fast eating.
I must have been grossing out my editor because she kept asking me if I needed a fork. I kept telling her I was going to eat the nachos with my dirty hands like a normal human being. I would not degrade myself like that.
I quickly hit a roadblock. The beef was slightly chewy, which was fine at first, but once I started filling up, it was not. The beef is what turned the Macho’s Nachos challenge from a test of the gut to a test of the mind. I finally understood the mental game of a marathon runner. Running isn’t so much about stamina as it is about ignoring the pain. This is where I was at with the nachos at the 30 minute mark.
This is when Moriarty’s angel of a wife, Katie, bought me a shot of Hornitos. One might think that a tequila shot at this time was a bad idea, but the violent burn that killed all the flavor in my mouth was a complicated reprieve. The straight-up alcohol was rough, but it was welcome.
After the tequila shot, I could not eat the mush anymore. I decided to approach the now extremely soggy nachos Jenga-style. I would take the dry chips out from underneath the top layer to create a cave-like structure. I was told the poblanos were not necessary to eat in order to win the competition, but the veggies were the only thing that tasted good after 17 pounds of nachos, so I ate four of the five. I switched from dry chip, to poblano, to margarita sip until I ran out the clock. It looked like I only ate a quarter of the plate, but it felt like I ate a couch.
By the end of the challenge, sharp pains began stabbing my ribs. I believe this is because my tight high-waisted jeans were blocking the food from fully entering my stomach. As we got in the car, I told my editor I was unbuttoning my pants. She apologized for making me do this. We’re still not speaking. I thought I would be fine, but by the time I made it home I was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t think. I vomited up the two margaritas and a Hornitos shot with little chunks of pico, which was totally fine. What was not fine was the thick, congealed paste of wet masa that came up after. Vomit is supposed to be liquid, not sand. It was pretty unpleasant. After that, I laid on the floor for a bit, breathing deeply and feeling grateful that I puked. It was finally over. An hour later I woke up on the floor. I think it’s safe to say I did not win the Macho’s Nachos challenge.