Since moving to London there’s a new day of the week that I’ve been pioneering: Fat Friday. This after the moderate success of my previous to food days of Taco Tuesday and Bacon Sandwich Sunday. RIP both. I’ve been doing Fat Friday for a month or so now and I have actually managed to lose weight (if you would like to hear about yoga and pilates, please do find me any time, any place, and we will chat).
The Pixxa Challenge.
Pixxa is a little pizza place in Farringdon that serves pizza by the slice, or ‘al taglio’, as the Italians say. They also have a restaurant in Aldgate East. There’s some context for you; how lovely.
While Pixxa has been on my pizza list for a while, it jumped to the top this week when I saw that it had a pizza eating challenge. The challenge, as I chose to accept it, was to eat six slices of pizza in nine minutes.
For a small, slim girl I have a pretty hearty appetite.
“You can really eat. Some people say that they can eat. But you! Wow, you can really put it away.” – a friend.
So I figured that it would be really easy.
Today may not have been the best day to try as I didn’t feel on top form, but damn it I marked the day out and I’m not one to turn my back on commitments! My friend Hans, with whom I have #business #lunches, came along with me and officially challenged me outside. Again, I’m not one to turn my back on a challenge.
Plus there was the prospect of potentially getting free pizza.
PLUS there was the potential of getting an additional free pizza were I to break the record.
We went into the store and got into a queue. Being British, this was the point that the excitement started ramping up.
The person in front and behind me in the queue were Italian, as were the staff in the restaurant. The pizza place closest to me is not run by Italians and while they have spent a ton of money on a new wood fired oven, they do not understand the art of making pizza.
“I’ve heard there’s a pizza challenge. I’d like to do it.”
“You want to do it?”
“One moment. Gina! This girl wants to do the challenge.”
“She wants to do it?”
A queue forms behind me.
“Tell her what to do.”
“You need to pick six slices. Not vegan. That’s too easy.”
“I wouldn’t want vegan anyway. I’ll go for the meat special, the veggie special, the fish special, parma ham and mushroom, porcini, wild mushroom and parmesan, and something else meaty.”
“Gina she picked all six! We need to cook it up, Gina!”
I doubt she actually said the last line, but they did heat it up and she did say the name “Gina” quite a lot.
The pizza was heated, but only lightly because I wouldn’t want to scold my mouth. It’s nice that they care.
Another guy came to do the timings.
They told me to take a seat by the window. Another guy then sat at the window. Why are you sitting there other guy? Do you not know what’s happening?! He left quite quickly.
The guy who was doing the timings told me to start whenever I was ready.
The first slice was rather lovely. It was the ham and mushroom, my pizza of choice. I ate it in 45 seconds. “This is totally doable, I thought.”
Each slice was cut in half, so there were 12 “slices” on two boards laid out in front of me. I realised when they laid it down that I had set myself quite the task. In fact, when I took the first bite I thought that I may have, ahem, bitten off more than I could chew.
You would think that in an eating contest, being too full would be the problem. It is not. It’s the chewing.
The second slice (or two half slices) took a minute and a half. This time the meat, then the vegetarian. After the ham and mushroom really all the tastes merged in to one.
Shovelling as much pizza into your mouth as quickly as possible is a good enough time as any to assess taste. From the other al taglio pizzas that I have tried in Rome and in Manchester’s Slice, I would say that this is up there. Manchester’s Slice has more out there flavours – and, I think, higher prices, though I managed to get some free samples – but I quite like the simplicity of Pixxa.
The chefs of Pixxa, the website says, come straight from the restaurants of Rome to give you a genuine taste of Italian food. Yep, that’s a direct quote right there. To hell with quotation marks.
Around the third slice they started playing the theme from Rocky. The two girls behind the counter were cheering me on. The guy with the timer was still timing. Another guy was refilling the drinks shelf and laughing. Hans was laughing and cheering me on half-heartedly between taking pictures that he never sent me (I presume that means that they were bad pictures). Customers came in and ignored what was going on – London is lovely like that. Actually, some people that were in the queue behind me were interested in what I was doing.
“Don’t look at her.” said non-Gina.
“Balahadhhhgdjohu” said I.
They recommended that I took a bottle of water from the fridge. I had a bottle of water in my bag so took that instead. You need water. I should definitely have drunk more water. Shovelling all that dough and toppings down my throat is quite drying.
The third slice was eaten. Halfway through the pizza and the time. My jaw was giving way. My cheeks were full. As I was chewing I started ripping the pizza, knowing that I wouldn’t have the strength to chew all of it.
“Three minutes left.”
That was the moment that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. Einstein was right. Time is relative. I had done four slices and the remaining two, now ripped into a pile and half covered in water, were looking too much.
My jaw ached.
My throat hurt.
They gave me some napkins.
I made a tactical mistake early on in trying to eat too much too quickly.
Apparently only 10 or 12 people have completed the challenge, and the fastest time someone did it in was 5 minutes. I don’t know how someone could do it in 5 minutes. They must have mandibles of death.
Two minutes left. A big pile of pizza remained.
The worst part of this was that everything smelled of fish. I would not recommend the fish special. It’s a lingering taste, and not a particularly pleasant one.
I kept chewing and ripping and shovelling and drinking and spitting out pizza to rip it more and shovelling and losing hope.
“You can do it” said my friend, half heartedly. That filthy liar.
The song cut out. The restaurant was back to its din. People came in and ordered.
I was shaking my head
Still shaking my head
With my cheeks full
The guy was laughing
I looked at the pile of carbs that remained before me. I was defeated.
“Aww. You are the one that really did the challenge so you’re the first to win in that way.”
Non-Gina’s English wasn’t great, but the sentiment of her message was lovely, I think.
I asked if I made a good effort. Non-Gina didn’t understand me. She asked me what I said about five times, which I had to repeat five times. She got Gina over to translate. I can’t remember if she actually did. This, Hans said, was the worst part of the whole ordeal.
If you win you get it free, if you lose you have to pay, but they only charge it as Margarita slices. They felt sorry for me, or, to put a more positive spin on it, were impressed with my effort, so only charged my for 5 slices.
£12 for a life experience: not too shabby, especially for central London prices. I only wish that I hadn’t ripped all the slices up so that I could actually have given Hans some takeout. I hate food waste.
My throat and mouth and shredded to hell. This is not the way that the body was designed to ingest food.
I would recommend food challenges as a good business opportunity.
“You won’t want to eat again for days. Or to come back here again. Haha!”
Oh Gina. Half true. I am already hungry again, but not for pizza, not today.
Pixxa – 7/10. Good for lunch, bad for my self respect.
8 St John Street, Farringdon, EC1M 4AY