Super Bowl Sunday is a uniquely American observance — football nirvana for (mostly male) fans. It’s also a challenge to the women who love them and who usually end up feeding and watering them at Super Bowl parties across the country.
Real Men Don’t Want Quiche. A Super Bowl party relies on hearty food, eaten with fingers or a single fork. Most football fans are men and they want guy-things to eat. Let the boys be boys with food that is tasty, easy to serve and won’t get in the way of the game. This is not the time to indulge your inner Martha Stewart with fancy sandwiches, quiche, or other dainties. Dr. Atkins should be benched for the duration of the game along with soy products of any description.
Super Bowl fans need strong fodder and lots of it — and after all that beer, you want people to be in a sober state when they drive home. Chicken wings are de rigueur, but not so hot when cold. Either figure out a way to keep them warm, such as a hot serving tray, or bring the wings out at half time. The only really Cold One should be the beer.
The beauty of Super Bowl food is that much or all of it can be ordered from your supermarket or deli — wings, hoagies, cold cuts, cheese, olives, sliced sausage, lasagna, chili, pizza, and dips from guacamole to hummus. Oversize cookies and brownies are another good bet. And most dishes you prepare can be made in advance.
For those of us in the frozen North, Super Bowl weather is usually a Big Chill and calls for a least some of the food to be hot. Chili is a favorite — it’s filling, easy to make, and simple to serve. Serve it in a chafing dish or a crockpot and let people help themselves. Corn bread or garlic bread is a fine accompaniment and you can also provide onion, sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheese, hot sauce, and jalapenos as garnish.
Savvy hosts recommend putting the bulk of the food on a nearby buffet table and providing a cooler of beer and wine close to the viewing area. Start with drinks and snacks and bring the larger, hot dishes out at half time. Put dips and snacks where viewers can grab a bite without obstructing the view. Those who want to try something slightly different can consider these options:
Think locally. Try a dish affiliated with your team’s home town — baked beans or clam chowder for the Patriots, pastrami sandwiches and New York cheesecake for the Giants.
Brewskis and Other Beverages. Running out of beer is the Cardinal Super Bowl Sin. Salty, spicy food, sexy beer commercials, and Super Bowl fervor all fuel consumption. Keg or case, bottles or cans, imported or domestic — buy more than you think you’ll need.
This year’s Super Bowl allows you to have some fun with cocktails and specialty beers. If you are up for fancy cocktails, there’s Manhattans and Cosmos, plus a choice of specialty beers brewed in Boston and New York. We counted nine micro breweries in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and of course, The Hub is home to the venerable Sam Adams.
Additional beverages can include wine, juice, club soda, and soft drinks. Some hosts offer a full bar and mixers, but remember that the game can run late, and you don’t want inebriated fans fading onto your couch.
One TV or Two? Some die-hard football fans feel that two TVs are key — one for serious spectators and one for less committed viewers. Others opt to put fans of the contending teams in separate rooms.
Games Fans Play. Many Super Bowl hosts provide a pool and point spread so fans can bet a few bucks on the game. It’s also good fun to pass out sheets of paper so guests can rate the commercials. Super Bowl is the most expensive TV advertising buy of the year, and the creative commercials are usually better than the half time show.
Editor’s note: Anne Sweeney is a public relations consultant, cook and party planner, and former Pan Am stewardess based in Central New Jersey. A final thought: Super Bowl Sunday, February 5, will be a marathon, not a sprint. The game does not start until 6:30 p.m.