Confessions of a (relative) Football Newbie

by Zehorit HeilicherTastemaker in Residence

Little did I know when I married my husband and moved from the sunny shores of the Mediterranean to the frozen tundra of Minnesota that Football would determine my weekend schedule. Pro or college games, it did not matter – my husband watched on TV, listened to the radio and often, attended. Who knew?? I had only spent time in the balmy Minnesota summer until my marriage. Winter was full of surprises… and snow and football…

So, what’s a girl to do? Resort to her hobby – food. When our kids were younger, we had friends and/or family over: we watched the game (as well as the kids) and of course – noshed. The crowning glory was always my brother in law’s Super Bowl party. Though our kids have grown and the routine has changed, we always look forward to the annual Super Bowl shindig. Drinks are poured, food is laid out and the score sheets and prediction sheets are handed to all. The game is scrutinized, the coaching decisions dissected, the commercials discussed in great detail and will be rated along with the half time show. Great fun for all!

Food and drink are the lubricants of a well-oiled party. Having a strategy, I found, is helpful: a theme is fun and can help in creating the menu. Elaborate football stadiums made of finger foods, football shaped appetizers and more are all over the web. I am more of a purist and since I enjoy full flavored cuisines I like to offer zesty Italian flavors, spicy southwestern or fresh Mediterranean flavors, to name a few.

In the frozen Minnesota winter a soup simmering in a crock pot or slow cooker is always welcomed (See the recipe for Italian White Bean and Sausage soup). Setting mugs and spoons on a tray next to the soup with a note “Eat Me!” is inviting and clear. We usually include some dips; hot and cold. Zesty and limey guacamole with organic yellow corn chips, hot artichoke and jalapeno dip with crackers or baguette slices are often part of the offering.  My brother in law offers an assortment of cold cuts with condiments and hearty sliced breads. During half time we all make sandwiches and rush to sit down for the half time show. No party would be the same without dessert; after dinner we set out a platter of homemade cookies and bars. Chocolate and spice are flavors I often choose: soft molasses cookies, cinnamon- mocha brownies to name a few. (See Football Brownie recipe).

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Another favorite lubricant is a flavored cocktail to warm our insides. A pitcher with a choice of cocktail ready to go next to the ice bucket along with a couple of bottles of wine make sure the host does not need to mix drinks and miss plays. The kids felt very grown up when we offered their own non-alcoholic punch, set out complete with pretty glasses and garnishes.

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Super Bowl day has evolved for us into a celebration of family and friends, as well as football. The football ritual, the food prepared with love and offered with care, the games and laughter have all created a family tradition that is warm and embracing. That alone is good enough reason for me to appreciate football.

For Recipes check out Fudgy Brownies & Italian White Bean & Sausage Soup