Enough with politics, let’s talk football — and food
How about those Broncos? After tense, pre-season quarterback juggling that left everyone wondering what John Elway was thinking, second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian appears to be a solid quarterback. Thank God for the distraction! It’s made TV tolerable again amidst the scandal and drama of the presidential campaign that feels more like a reality TV show than actual reality. It’s a sad state of affairs when we point to NFL athletes as role models in order to distract our children away from the people in contention to lead our country.
But enough about that. Let’s talk about football! This American Sunday ritual is one I look forward to all week. Football gives us permission to sit on the couch for three hours and focus on something besides the load of the upcoming week. It’s also a great time to slog through the week’s laundry.
Of course, with football comes football food and this might be the most important part. Not only does football give us permission to sit for hours and do nothing, but it also allows us to consume foods we otherwise wouldn’t go near, such as cheese dip made from Velveeta, which I’m sure has absolutely no actual cheese in it.
Football food should be easy. You should be able to throw it together before kickoff and in some cases reheat it at the half. I find that most football food falls into one of three categories. First there are the warm-up foods. These consist of dips, guacamole and salsas. The effort here is usually minimal. Even seven-layer dip — a staple for football fans everywhere — is a simple assembly of layering seven different containers such as refried beans, salsa and sour cream, along with whatever is common to your region — onions, tomatoes, corn, olives. Go crazy. The most effort I might bust out in this category is making my own salsa from late-season peaches. This category of food is put out before the game begins and is eaten through the first half.
Following the warm-up food, we transition into warmed-up food. These are heavier, appetizer-style foods that are usually baked. The most popular type of food in this category involves a meat product wrapped in a bread product. Pigs in a blanket come to mind, but I do a different version where I wrap small meatballs and cheese in biscuit dough, stuff them in a pie plate and bake the whole thing. There are a hundred variations of this. Sandwiches are also included in this category.
Finally, we have wings and chili. They share the last category because of their absolute association with all things football, no matter where you live. It’s hard to find really good wings, the kind with the really crisp skin. Wings should absolutely never be breaded the way they are in the frozen food sections. I’m not really sure what that’s all about, but it’s wrong. I am also not a fan of buffalo sauce and much prefer an actual barbecue sauce on my wings. I realize that I am in the minority here. The only way to get a really perfect wing is to deep fry it twice in oil. I learned this in college at a local college bar in the Bronx called Mugz’s where I probably consumed my weight in wings over four years. It’s a lot of work and I’ve only attempted it at home once. They were indeed fantastic, but the time commitment wasn’t really worth it when you can call in an order to Rooster’s and pick them up just before kickoff.
Chili is a football staple. The appropriate time to put out the chili is at halftime so your guests can help themselves throughout the second half. I won’t go into too much detail on the chili, lest I offend anyone. Chili is incredibly regional and has been known to start wars in Texas. With beans or without, whether to add tomatoes, and what to serve it over are just a few of the variations that define where you are from. No other food has produced more contests than this main event food. In fact, it’s so complicated, I think we’ll just go back to discussing politics.
It’s why we live here.