I've been looking forward to this series of posts since mid-fall, when our new Sportatorium folks joined the City of Ate fray. You see, I can think of no more perfect marriage than sports and food. And I consummate this union every year with an annual football-themed degustation.
Before you skewer me for pandering to our new friends, please note that this tradition predates our recent infiltration. I've been hosting and writing about my annual NFL food fest for some time. So with the regular season closed and the Wild Card round commencing on Saturday with the NBC Shit Bowl, it's time to think about NFL championship foods.
The idea is simple: assign a dish to each team based on its city of origin's culinary history, and let the final four teams decide your championship Sunday menu.
Dallas may not be in the mix, and trust me: I was excited to whip up a big bowl of Texas Red for the occasion (I was even going to leave out the beans). But there are lots of interesting teams in the race.
Houston is Texas' last chance at an appearance in its conference title game; perhaps chili is not dead yet. New Orleans could bring poboys or gumbo or, if it can be found, warm spicy boudin. Pittsburgh always brings the Primanti Bros. sandwich. And then there's New England's clam chowder, Wisconsin's bratwursts and Baltimore's crab cakes. And if you think beans are evil, just wait till you see what the folks of Cincinnati do to their chili.
Framing teams with dishes changes the playoffs significantly. People who aren't typically football fans find themselves cheering on wavy-haired concussion dispenser Troy Polamalu's Steelers just because they're craving a sandwich loaded loaded with french fries and sweet tangy coleslaw. My friends have come to dread that New England clam chowder, as it returns year after year. And new dishes are always a good time. Last year Chicago's Italian beef was a welcomed new addition. (The Chicago hot dog had ruled previous Bears appearances.)
So come on Aters. Jerry and Co. shat the bed and you need to back a team if you're going to keep the playoffs interesting. If you don't have any strong ties to any of the surviving contenders, you might as well base the decision on food.
Here are the remaining teams:
Cincinnati Houston Denver Pittsburgh New England Baltimore Detroit New Orleans Atlanta New York Giants San Fransisco Green Bay
Pick your team, then pick your chow, and get ready to eat.