I have previously written about cannoli. I wrote a six thousand word opus titled, "Moby Cannoli" that though rejected by The New Yorker was selected for publication at my second choice, the "On The Plate" section of Crazylegsconti.com. The cannoli is the perfect Italian dessert and its most unforgiving. One must have a crunchy jagged shell pockmarked like the moon. Its shape is an open cornucopia allowing filling from both sides. The filling is both firm and creamy, either the swanky mascarpone or the traditional ricotta cheese blended with sugar, cream, and slight spices. In the cannoli's perfection lies its difficulty in the competitive eating field. The shell can break like daggers as if the pastry is trying to shank one's gums and mouth roof. The cream, so dense it can require chewing, builds like stucco in the cheeks. There is no rhythm in cannoli eating, only the fortitude that six minutes requires. For eleven days the Feast Di San Gennaro celebrates sausage, beer, zeppole, paint-on-nails, and chest hair, but the six minutes of the cannoli eating contest may be the closest link to the religious aspect of the patron saint of Naples as one's faith is needed more than jaw strength to win this grueling event.
Labor Day weekend, Buffalo Jim Reeves stepped to the plate at the world chicken wing eating championship for his twelfth consecutive appearance at that event - longevity a rarity in our sport. I will be eating for my twelfth cannoli contest in as many years, also a record. Unlike wings however, the cannoli discipline has required more post-contest dental work than any other discipline. Eater X, whom at one point was getting buy back dental fillings from his Connecticut dentist, retired from cannolis because of chipped teeth. His dentist wept. I have continued to chomp, despite the pain on the teeth, the peeling of the gums, the crystal meth like sugar rush, and the fact that one will smell like a dairy barn for three days, as the cannolis reverse osmosis out one's pores. The cannoli totals will differ year to year depending on the cannoli sponsor - Café Roma on Broome Street makes the hardest shell, Ferrara's on Grand the most copious filling, and Bella Ferrara's off Canal on Mulberry the perfect mix (and sponsor the year that Eater X ate 28).
I did win the cannoli championship in 2009 with twenty cannolis in six minutes after almost a decade as a marscapone bridesmaid, but this year I feel an urgency to silence the critics who say I am in the twilight of my career. Why have I been performing so poorly (Not qualifying for Nathan's, second place in corn, wing totals comparable to casual diners)? If the saying that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach is true than the inverse is also just - put simply, I am heartbroken. A relationship of eight years ended and a girl I had hoped to spend a lifetime with, moved overseas. Life (and competitive eating) has simply not tasted as sweet.
I don't know the cannoli sponsor this year, nor who my competitors will be. I do know that cannoli eating has not gotten the recognition it deserves, either in competitive eating or gangsta rap (one mention - Chappaqua's hardest rapper, Awkafresh dropped, "You're in the club popping bottles with models, while I'm at San Gennaro snapping cannolis full throttle.") I am announcing ahead of time, that instead of phallically front loading the cannoli (ala Linda Lovelace) I will be snapping the cannoli (ala Lorena Bobbit) and keeping the filling drool to a minimum. The snap, perhaps symbolizing the heartbreak, but also will break the Herculean cannoli for easier mouth stuffing.
A win this Thursday, Sept 12 at 2 pm at the corner of Hester and Mott won't make the heartbreak dissipate, but perhaps it can reenergize my love of professional eating. Perhaps there is still time in 2013 to show the world that competitive eating is more punishing than the NFL, more intestinally circuitous than Nascar, and more intense than Kevin Garnett in warm ups at the Barclay Center. Football season is underway in New York. The US Open of tennis just finished, but I submit that the Ultimate Fighting Championship of competitive eating is on Thursday and it will be for all the marbles of mascarpone. Please come out to the feast of San Gennaro where you can chew ziti thoughtfully, eat zeppole slowly, and wonder if the cannoli kid has one more notch in his belt to unbuckle?
Crazy Legs Conti can be reached at www.crazylegsconti.com where he will be enjoying sfogliatelli.