The Wild Cards Are Finished: Watching the NFL Through Food

What a weird weekend in football. While I'm glad New Orleans trumped Detroit (what do people in D-town eat besides sadness?), I'm devastated by Pittsburgh's loss to Denver, another town whose culinary culture is difficult to define. What Would Tebow Cook?

Pittsburgh, however, gave rise to the glory that is Primanti Bros. A truly great sandwich topped with soft fried potatoes, sweet tangy coleslaw and, if you're into it, a fried egg. I'm sad I won't be making it in my annual cook-food-from-the-final-four-cities party.

Houston's win keeps Texas food fans in the mix, though. My first thought was to leverage the Texans team to produce a big pot of chili con carne, but then I realized I really know very little about Houston's cuisine. Does chili define Houston like it might the rest of Texas? I emailed Katherine Shilcutt, the food critic at the Houston Press, and asked her: What dish, that lends itself to football eating, best defines your city?

"I guess I'd have to say queso," she replied in record speed. "Some might say the burger -- Houston is apparently Burger City, after all, and no tailgate is complete without burgers. But I think it's queso, especially when it's toward the chilly end of football season."

Shilcutt went on to describe a recipe including a block of Velveeta, a can of Rotel salsa and a can of Wolf-brand chili, all tossed in a crock pot till it looks like goo. (Sounds a little like a dip I encountered once.)

I dunno. I'm not much a fan of cheese food. But who am I to tell another city what to eat? That gets me into enough trouble here in Dallas.

Burgers are interesting, though: thin, salty patties on soft buns wrapped in wax-paper for a few minutes so the flavors meld. Maybe I could top them with chili con carne and dub the mess a Houston burger, but first the Texans have to beat Baltimore, the city of delicious crab cakes.

And in the meantime I have to figure out the best way to represent Denver [Editor's note: No you don't] and San Francisco through football eats. Some more emails are in order.

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Scott Reitz
Contact: Scott Reitz