We now know what they say to you at the exact point of brain death, when you have floated through a long grey corridor up through the clouds, through to purgatory: through to a wispy place where heaven and hell intersect, where your fate is decided, where you are condemned or elevated, blessed or cursed. When you die, Guy Fieri leans forward to you, closer, no closer than that, closer, and takes one deep breath before howling:
"WELCOME TO THE CULINARY DOJO AND FLAVOURTOWN!"
Here is a video of death, or: Guy Fieri eating various foodstuffs in quick succession to the tune of 'Hurt' by Johnny Cash. Look at this video and tell me this isn't death. That Guy Fieri isn't dead, here, emotionally at least if not in body. Guy Fieri – cursed by a hundred, a thousand different gods, Guy Fieri cursed in some way by every single god, the god of wearing wraparound shades on the back of your head, the god of frosted tips, the god of looking like a rejected character sketch for pre-concept Shrek – Guy Fieri condemned to live a life as some sort of bar snack Sisyphus, pushing battered shrimp after battered shrimp into his creaking, aching body until he dies and is reborn, and does it all again with a burrito. Guy Fieri, with his nose deep red with sunburn, trying to eat an entire two-hander burger in one bite; Guy Fieri, wearing a T-shirt that says 'SPIRITUAL GANGSTER', wriggling his eyebrows while sucking spaghetti; Guy Fieri, with his eyes like an innocent cow, pauses with a fork for just a second, just a second; Guy Fieri, with his face and body like a flame effect shirt came to life, making you wonder how often he dyes his soul patch; Guy Fieri, the troll pencil-topper in a rejected Goosebumps short story, trying to crawl down to hell by eating mac and cheese with his hot bare hands. Guy Fieri eats like a man trying to die. Guy Fieri eats like he has a death wish. Guy Fieri eats food like he's trying to fight it.
What is the British equivalent of Guy Fieri? I am afraid it is Ainsley Harriott. Both men huge personalities, both men love food with an intensity that is almost abnormal, both men almost hard to look at, difficult to process. There is no photo of Ainsley Harriott where he does not look like he said "ooh, naughty!" in the microsecond before the flash went off. There is no photo of Guy Fieri where he doesn't look like he's somehow emitting a three-chord waa-waa guitar solo. Imagine being on like that, all the time. Imagine not being able to turn that off. Guy Fieri can't take his soul patch off every night and just be 'Guy'. He can't deflate on the sofa with a beer and watch sports. Guy Fieri is always Guy Fieri, every second of every day. Except, that is, here: except in that exquisite moment just before he takes a bite of food – when his body is hunched, primed, his hands gripped round an egg roll or spirallised frankfurter, his body flinching like yours might before you take a punch – and in that moment he sighs and succumbs, you can barely see it but it's there, a tiny moment of relaxation, the lid just sliding off the box, the tourniquet loosening, and there, for a moment, he is true being: take a breath, Guy Fieri, for in this moment you are alive. Welcome to the culinary dojo. Welcome to flavourtown.
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