Keep that wimpy gourmet food away from Super Bowl parties

January 30, 2013

Chips. Wings. Brownies. Maybe a pot of chili.

Is there anything more to know about Super Bowl food? No there is not. Yet here we are on the eve of the big game, and faster than you can say Barefoot Contessa, we are being snowed under with recipe books full of “imaginative” Super Bowl foodstuffs, most of which have no business coming anywhere near a football game.

First of all, if we wanted imaginative, we wouldn’t be watching football, we would be watching the St. Petersburg ballet.

Second, all things culinary as they relate to football spreads had pretty well been ironed out by Super Bowl V. After all, Super Bowl food is not the iPhone; just because it’s new and different doesn’t mean it is better.

Third, television food shows, morning shows and variety shows are doing their level best to ruin Super Bowl spreads, simply because there is such a competition to spoon together two things that have never been spooned together before. “We’ll be right back with some exciting recipes that will really put the kick in your Super Bowl spread.” No you will not. You will be right back with some marginally palatable, cilantro-based concoction that you will try pass off as football food, when it is nothing of the kind.

Fourth, any real football fan will be sorely tempted to soak your radish florets and your origami swan cucumbers in high-octane gasoline and roast them to kingdom come. You want to serve blackened roughy at your Super Bowl party, well here’s a blackened crookneck-squash penguin to go with it.

Fifth, focus, focus, focus. I’m not saying there’s absolutely zero place for a couple of nontraditional dishes at a Super Bowl party. I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is that when you become all-consumed with raisin-stuffed pita pockets and cream cheese on a cantaloupe, the basics are bound to suffer a corresponding lack of attention. You want people to leave your S.B. party unsatisfied, go ahead, serve grape leaves stuffed with wild rice in place of bacon-wrapped anything and see what happens.

Sixth, if your menu contains any recipe that includes the word “healthy,” you are hereby relegated to the taxi squad of Super Bowl cooks. Listen, it’s not as if there are 12 Super Bowls a month. Yes, I’m sure that every year one or two people at Super Bowl parties across this land go face-down in the nacho cheese, and that’s unfortunate. But glomming down deep-fried Super Bowl ick is how we choose to live our lives, so please, just this once, don’t go forcing your “spicy lemon bean curd” on us, no matter how many hours you think you might be adding to our overall lives.

Seventh, if you need a “recipe” for it, it probably has no place on a Super Bowl table. Proper Super Bowl food can easily be prepared with those who have the same intelligence and dexterity of large, doe-eyed mammals, and often involve no more thought that tearing open a foil packet and pouring the contents into a plastic container of some fermented dairy product. In other words, be very wary of proffering anything more complex than spinach/artichoke dip, which is sort of the River Styx of acceptable man-food.

And finally, we know that you do this out of love, and we are very appreciative of same. And if you have a need to provide a veggie tray so the civilized among you can nibble on zucchini sticks as you stare in horror upon our barbecue stained maws, we in no way would want to interfere.

But there are 364 other days in the year to go all gourmet on us, so please, we beg of you — on this most sacred of all events, allow us our indignity.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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