Shark Attack: Man vs. Food Nation in the Keys
Maybe, if the Travel Channel's increasingly portly celebrity face-stuffer had some help, a pair of really springy shoes, or a trampoline and a really small shark.
That's at least a pretty fair conclusion after watching his rather odd sequel to Man v. Food, dubbed Man v. Food Nation, which last night traveled down to the Keys to find new candidates to embarrass themselves and eviscerate their intestinal tracts on national television.
The episode kicked off with Richman swooning over a vicious assault on what is easily the best-eating fish on the planet, the delicately flavorful hogfish, at Stock Island's Hogfish Bar & Grill. In an act of culinary sacrilege equivalent to smearing ketchup and peanut butter on a slab of perfectly seared foie gras, the "chef" obliterated the fish's subtle, lobsteresque flavor (it uses its tusk-like teeth to feed on tiny crustaceans in coral) by smothering it with sautéed mushrooms and onions and molten Swiss cheese. Oh, the horror!
Then there was a segment at Blue Heaven, a Key West institution that really is worthy of the name. (Try the luscious shrimp 'n' grits or, in season, the killer lobster eggs Benedict.) There, Richman inexplicably gobbles Key lime pie with a surly looking Vanilla Ice, a never-was who clawed his way up to the status of has-been and has not only jumped the shark but beaten the poor animal to death, filleted it, eaten it, and shat it out again.
Following that, our hero journeyed north to Key Largo, where he and his protégé du jour, a comely (and very tiny) UM student named Cassie Glenn, hit up the hugely mediocre Key Largo Conch House to join a handful of other suckers... er, contestants, in a conch-fritter-eating competition.
Though anyone who's eaten this supposed delicacy knows that conch fritters are essentially burnt and crusty globules of undercooked batter threaded with tasteless rubber bands, little Cassie managed to choke down 26 of the suckers before her gag reflex kicked in, unfortunately not enough to win the title of fastest trip to the hospital for an emergency stomach pump.
Watching the ever-more-bloated Richman and seemingly ever-shrinking Cassie together was like watching the Goodyear blimp hovering over a flea. I have no doubt that in top Man v. Food shape, he could have eaten seven or eight of her, providing he first dipped her in water to allow for smoother gullet action.
In any event, if you want to see for yourself, the episode will be repeated Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. There are a bunch of other dates too; to see them, go here.
And watch out for sharks.