Mmmmm…. Hurts so good?
In a sunny garden in deepest Dorset yesterday 65 people – their faces rigid with pain and disgust – gathered in a quest to be crowned the King of the Stingers.
There is no easy route to winning the World Stinging Nettle Eating Championship, held each year in the village of Marshwood near Bridport. It takes skill, it takes endurance … it takes great blistering chunks out of what used to be your taste buds.
Smart competitors squash the leaves into tight little balls which they try to throw straight to the back molars. Then you try to munch them up and swallow with as little contact as possible. The problems begin when the nettles start to back up in the mouth and … arrrrrgh!
Competitors are served two-foot-long stalks of nettles from which they must pluck and devour the leaves. The bare stalks are then measured and the winner, after an hour of combat, is the one with the greatest accumulated length.
(nettle eating video after jump…)
“They taste totally foul, and everything comes out bright green for a few days afterwards,” shrugged Simon Slee, 48, the reigning world record holder with 76 feet. “Apart from that it’s really not too bad. You need focus and rhythm and some beer to take the taste away.”
The contest has separate men’s and women’s sections. This year’s male champion, Mike Hobbs, landlord of the New Inn at West Knightley, near Dorchester, managed to consume 48ft of nettles. The female winner was Mel Lang of West Bay, Dorset, who finished on level terms with Mr Hobbs.