The Soliloquy of Harold Callahan

The Soliloquy of Harold Callahan

My thanks to former colleague Alan Dawson for alerting me to a scene from the Clint Eastwood film Sudden Impact which may throw some light on the hot dog and ketchup debate which featured in last week's column.

San Francisco Inspector Callahan (aka Dirty Harry) is inspecting the grotesque remains of a body on a beach. A detective who is eating a hot dog says to Callahan:

"Don't tell me this shit is getting to you. Not Harry Callahan. Say it ain't so."

Dirty Harry's response, which Alan has dubbed "The Soliloquy of Harold Callahan", is as follows:

"No, this stuff isn't getting to me. Shootings, knifings, beatings, old ladies getting bashed for social security checks, teachers being thrown out of windows, no that doesn't bother me a bit.

"Or this job, wading through the scum of the city.

"Being swept away by bigger and bigger waves of corruption and red tape.

"That doesn't bother me. You know what does? You know what makes me sick to the stomach?

"Watching you stuff your face with hot dogs. Nobody, I mean nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog."

Well, after that sound advice, looks like ketchup is going on the back shelf.

Extremely fast food

Something we could do without are eating contests when people stuff as many hot dogs into their mouth as quickly as they can in a frenzy with bits of sausage and bun falling off. It is all quite distasteful, not to mention messy.

Some years ago I came across the US hot dog eating championships on a TV sports channel and the commentators were really into it as if they were covering the Super Bowl or World Series. There were references to "Major League Eating", "rookies", veteran hot dog stars coming out of retirement and even a pundit assessing each competitor's chances.

This particular contest ended in a photo-finish with the two front-runners consuming 59 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Imagine that. This prompted an "overtime eat-off", or as one commentator put it, a "dog-off". It was hardly surprising the two contestants looked to be on the verge of throwing up. It was enough to put you off hot dogs for life.

Even faster food

If you haven't finished breakfast it might be advisable to skip the following item.

Some of the food-eating records makes you really wonder, what's the point? One fellow made history when he drank a 400g bottle of ketchup through a straw in 33 seconds. A more challenging task awaited a British contestant on Big Breakfast TV who munched his way through 36 cockroaches in one minute. Then there was the fellow on a US show who consumed 94 earthworms in 30 seconds, not to forget the competitor who devoured 12 slugs in two minutes.

For those who like a challenge you can always try to beat the fellow who ate 100 live maggots and celebrated like he had won an Olympic medal.


Some people eat weird food out of choice. The 19th century British geologist William Buckland regularly dined on hedgehog, stewed mole and, oh dear … puppies. He also tried bluebottle flies but admitted they weren't to his taste.

His son, Francis, inherited his father's fanciful gourmet inclinations and when he was at Oxford University invited fellow students around for dinner where they were treated to that mouth-watering dish, mice on toast. On another occasion Frank's guests were served Japanese sea slugs, kangaroo parts and parrot. According to guests the sea slugs resembled the contents of a glue pot. Other dishes included boiled elephant's trunk, rhinoceros pie and earwigs.

Salad surprise

Some meals turn out to be a bit livelier than expected. A few years ago a woman in the Netherlands was enjoying her snack in a fast-food restaurant in the Hague when a frog jumped out of her salad halfway through the repast. The lady's response was to "scream the place upside down" which certainly livened the place up.

It seems frogs have a penchant for salads. Not long ago a London housewife sat down to enjoy a salad she had bought at the supermarket. "I opened it up and there were these two big eyes staring at me," recalled the unfortunate woman. This naturally prompted assorted "Hopping Mad" headlines in the London tabloids.

Later she admitted that after the initial shock she actually thought the frog was "rather sweet" and reminded her of Kermit.

She was more fortunate than the lady in San Antonio, Texas who was finishing off her salad when she bit into something "that felt sticky and slimy." She was right, as it turned out to be a dead frog, alarmingly minus one leg. "I think I probably ate it," she said.

Humble pie

Another creature that tends to show up uninvited is the cockroach. I was in a small Sukhumvit pub some years ago when a British tourist discovered a cockroach in her meat pie. The lady understandably gave out a strangled squawk of horror after seeing this creature lying on its back amongst the carrots and gravy.

When confronted by the distraught woman the Geordie proprietor was suitably apologetic explaining that "it had never happened before". He offered another pie minus the cockroach, which she declined. He consoled her with a reassuring "at least it's dead" -- a nice touch I thought.

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Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

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