On Sunday, Feb. 1, at approximately 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time, tailgate parties will be rockin’ and rollin’ from Foxboro and Boston to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Seattle, making a final pit stop at 1 Cardinals Drive in Glendale, Arizona. Nearly 70,000 stalwart Super Bowl fans (including supermodel Gisele Bündchen) will cozy into the University of Phoenix Football Stadium, transfixed on the steamy turf as hot, hunky quarterback rock stars — New England Patriots’ elite Tom Brady and Seattle Seahawks’ up-and- comer Russell Wilson bandy their athletic and strategic prowess. Then the bathroom break, aka halftime, will be dominated by the iconic tight end — Katy Perry.
The rest of the Big Game fans, 150 million coast-to-coast, will be high-definition-homebound sharing comradery, side bets, food fests and heartburn with their best buds. No food group, combination or type of preparation is out-of-bounds for Super Bowl Sunday. This no-rule policy includes Beluga caviar smeared on a bratwurst or hot dog, or Dom Perignon paired with a bison cheeseburger.
In fact, Super Bowl Sunday lays a solid claim to the biggest grilling day of the winter season, and snagging second place for the largest food consumption day of the year, following closely behind Thanksgiving.
The average fan will scarf down more than 1,200 empty calories of salt, sugar, spice and grease, while the nation will consume a total of 53 million pounds of guacamole — enough to spread across the University of Phoenix Stadium from end zone to end zone 21-feet deep, 14,500 tons of chips, and 450 million killer chicken wings guzzled down with 21 million kegs of brewskis. Of course, there’s a major post Super Bowl fallout with a 20 percent hike in antacid use. Daah.
There’s still time to strategize a more creative (and healthier) game plan if you’re hosting a Super Bowl shindig. Organize a regional potluck incorporating the cuisines of New England, Seattle and Arizona (Sonoran desert), the latter paying homage to the venue. You can whip up some fun new fare and good old standbys with healthy riffs to avoid that collateral antacid damage on Monday morning.
Some light and lively New England eats might include a seafood or corn chowda or chili, lobster rolls with New England–style hot dog buns, turkey or roast chicken subs or grinders, American chop suey, Boston baked beans, and for your just desserts New England apple, rhubarb or blueberry popovers. To quench that Big Game thirst there’s crisp apple cider or cranberry cocktail, local New England lagers and ales like Samuel Adams or geographic appropriate cocktails including the Cape Codder or the Boston.
For Pacific Northwest cuisine, we can take a culinary lesson from Seattle’s Pike Place Market and serve a smorgasbord of hand-crafted small batch cheeses with assorted crackers and lavash breads, smoked salmon and caper flat breads, crab cake or grilled diver scallop sliders with zesty wasabi tartar sauce accompanied by a savory apple slaw. For sweet Seattle tooths Rainier cherry chews, strudels or cobblers will satisfy the craving, along with anything coffee-flavored from gelatos and biscottis to iced and Irish coffees, espresso cream sodas, martinis or margaritas.
Those who enjoy southwest or Sonoran fare can munch on fresh fruit and veggie spears of mango, pineapple, watermelon and jicama coated with a lime-chile blend, or indulge in gourmet fish tacos garnished with pickled carrots, red onions and jalapeños, carne seca or sun-dried shredded beef sautéed with tomatoes, onions and chiles stuffed in tortillas, or a prickly pear cactus gazpacho.
The Kitchen Shrink’s Super Bowl Seafood Chowder
(Serves 4 – recipe may be doubled)
1/2 pound of large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined
1/2 pound of scallops (bay or Diver’s, halved)
1 pound of cod, cubed
1 large can or jar (28 ounce) of pureed tomatoes
1 small, sweet onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red or yellow pepper diced
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each of basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme
1 tablespoon of amber or dark honey
1 cup of vegetable or chicken broth (adjust for desired consistency)
Sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Method: In a large soup or saucepan, heat oil on medium and sauté onion, garlic, pepper and celery until tender. Add the fish and seafood, and sear for three or four minutes. Add remaining ingredients, adjusting the broth quantity to desired consistency, and simmer for 30 minutes. Ladle into small chowder bowls, and serve with grilled garlic toast strips.