Illustration by Nanda Ormond.

The Short History Of The Post Surf Feed

Explained in this picture of a cow

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There are 850 calories, and about 120g of sugar, in the average large chocolate shake purveyed by the World Famous Magical Clown. The Clown’s website will tell you otherwise, by the way. There’s two or three hundred in a donut or a vanilla slice. Chico Rolls are off the chart.

Do you care? No, you do not.

The munchies, the pig out, the nosh, face-stuff or frenzy is as old as surfing itself. The Hawaiian archipelago was once known as the Sandwich Islands. Boring history types will tell you this was a nod to the Earl of Sandwich, and that’s true, but what’s commonly overlooked is that he was the guy selling massive butter-dripping toasties on the beach when Jack London watched the locals shooting Waikiki in 1907. Jack had a try, failed miserably, and after he’d finished scrawling some notes for A Royal Sport: Surfing In Waikiki, he fell asleep under a palm with half a kilo of the Earl’s finest warming his belly from within. And you don’t hear him complaining.

When asked to pick up groceries whilst out for a surf, the common strategy is to surf first, get groceries on the way home. After all, who knows how long it’ll be offshore. The problem with this approach is you wind up sauntering through a supermarket with a whacking great growling T-Rex in your guts, and the shopping is correspondingly irrational. A roll of chocolate chip cookie dough does not constitute “supplies”.

Nowhere is the chemistry of nutrition more graphically illustrated than in the first 20 minutes after a long surf. In a retail environment, this means ordering, and re-ordering, and ordering something for while that order’s coming. In the home, it means grabbing frantically at the nearest thing, just to stave off the gnawing until a decent meal can be built. A jar of figs, for instance. Baby food. A live guinea pig. You make a coffee: need to warm the insides while you get that banana peeled. The caffeine speeds up the metabolism, reacts somehow with the banana, and ’round we go again. And while the microwave’s dealing with the scrambled eggs, probably time for another coffee. “Flavour sachets” of MSG can be eaten directly from the packaging, with only mild levels of permanent health damage. As Cousin Eddie said to Clark Griswald, “I don’t know why they call this stuff hamburger helper. It goes just fine by itself.”

If you do it vigorously enough, this kind of frenetic eating actually hurts. I’m no anatomist, but I imagine there’s this narrow tube in there and a great bolus of unmasticated fat and protein blocking the works, like a python ingesting a sheep. Blood sugar levels spike like the Nikkei, the head spins and it’s time for a little slumber on the lawn. The effect is much like a parks ranger popping a trank dart in a bear’s arse.

In 1978, John Milius celebrated post-surf gluttony in Big Wednesday’s memorable scene featuring Gary Busey and Jan Michael Vincent splattering each other with spaghetti after an argument about pintails, while a hard-boiled waitress laments, “It’s not a sport, it’s a disease.”

Surfing World’s Mike Jennings, actor Liam Hemsworth and twerker Miley Cyrus share a love for the macaroni and cheese pies on Phillip Island. The store at Yamba is considered one of the greats. For me, it’s the East Lynne Pie Shop, gateway to some of the finest surf on the south coast, and an apple pie that could – and regularly does – stop a B-double. North Coast surfers harbour guilty memories of the old lady at the Lennox milk bar, who would make their sangers out the back while they loaded up their shorts with all her stock. More charitably, Vaughan Blakey and his grom mates exchanged wiping down the display cabinet sneezeguards for leftover cream buns, still clad in their wetties. Each of us knows a place that can fill the insatiable void, and they in turn know that we represent repeat business, provided the grunting and slurping can be confined to quiet corner.

Nutrition is a moving feast. Kelly Slater is on record as saying he likes chia soaked in coconut water for breakfast. He also drinks almond milk. Which is like, fine, but it’s not as though it won him 11 World Titles or something.

Jock Serong