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Eat the Football - Superbowl 50, 2016

Super Bowl 50 is happening right down the road from me. It’s bad enough that it’s disrupting the already bad commutes well in advance of the game. It’s depressing to see snipers atop our building and to learn how the anti-sex trade advocates are deploying their volunteers. Commercials are treated like news, and news is treated like product placements and celebrity sightings. And to top it off, nobody is going to serve any food that is not chicken wings, nachos, guacamole, or shaped into a football.

I used to look forward to football cuisine, if you can really stomach putting those two words together. Two decades ago I found it amusing, delightful to see how a double entendre of ham and bacon could be formed and consumed as the football itself. Gridirons made out of pretzels, stadiums constructed of cheese and crackers. The shimmering dips and dippity bits. It was a lark to see the advertising circulars in the Sunday papers.

Then came the reality cooking shows, the paleo diet, industrial-size bags o’ wings from Costco, Hemingway-esq chefs with tattoos and blow torches, competitive cake-bakers, muscular kitchen bouncers. It’s gotten so violent.

Football should not run the world, people, and it should definitively NOT RUN THE KITCHEN.

And you, Sam Sifton of NY Times Cooking, your newsletter this morning sang a pretty pedestrian siren song of weekend cuisine that might be more lovingly chosen and savored. Nachos. Guac. Wings. Stuffed jalapenos. We’re going to see all this again for Cinco de Mayo, how did this get defined as football food? Where are your roots? In those Kraft and Nabisco advertising circulars? What would Pierre Franey or Julia Child do? (#WWPFJCD?) They wouldn’t do this. Be the bold American Tastemaker we need and get us out of those wings and things.

Pierre would roast a pork loin and make a gravy with cream and calvados. Julia would bake a quiche aux jambon. There would be a cheese course, not a dip, and a green frisee salad. We’d sit down proper with napkins and forks and not shovel sticky glazed wings/bacon/franks and lick the gluey red from our digits. The most radical thing we could do to protest football’s encroachment on the beautiful and sacred things of our lives is to go to the farmer’s market with an open heart, adventurous spirit, buy the heck out of the Russian/Mexican/Vietnamese/Chinese produce stands, make a lovely meal, and eat it with friends and family. WITHOUT THE TV ON.

(See how cranky I get when the Super Bowl displaces my local Sunday farmer’s market so 100,000 or so SB 50 revelers can cruise into town on mass transit?)

Me? I’m going to make a coq au vin. Without the wings. Then I’m going to drive out of town. But all will be forgiven if Sam Sifton redeems himself on Sunday with a better game day menu. Or if some new cake boss makes the ultimate Super Bowl dessert - a concussed chocolate cake in the shape of a kicked-in helmet.

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