Superstitions and traditions in the realm of sports fascinate me, so I thought I’d ask a few Patriot and Giants fans about how they were feeling heading into Super Bowl weekend and if they had special items or snacks they needed to have for the game.
But first, time for a confession. Steelers-Broncos game? It was terrible week. Bry was out of town on business, I was working like crazy, keeping strange hours and in my mind, I thought I still had one lucky IC Light left to get me through the game. So sure was I that the remaining beer was in the fridge, I didn’t even bother to check even though a small part of my brain kept saying. “Look. Go look and be certain.”
Game time. I go to the refrigerator. It’s not there. A dozen different craft beers, but not a single lucky IC Light to be found. My friend Jeremy asked if I should run to one of the two stores in LA that carry Iron City, knowing one of them wasn’t too far away. Ten minutes until kickoff. There is no time. A pit formed in my stomach.
The first half of the Steelers-Broncos game was awful. Bry was stuck in product launch meetings in furiously texting for updates. I didn’t want to face the second half. I decided to drink one of the Yuenglings I had brought back from my last trip back to Pittsburgh. The Steelers picked up their game and nearly came back for the win, but it was not to be.
This is why I find superstitions interesting. Of course my beer (probably) didn’t have any effect on the result of the game, but it’s just a small way to feel just a little more apart of it.
Today’s panelists are a virtual murders’ row of hard core sports fans and writers. For the Patriots, we have Professor Jon, Ryan Hudson of SBNation, Bryan Joiner (his new sports gig to be announced soon), and ‘Fesser, the host behind The Gurgling Cod. For the Giants, we have Ms. Becky who gave us a great guacamole recipe and Sarah Schorno Kogod of NBC’s Capital Games.
I couldn’t bring myself to edit down anyone’s answers, I enjoyed them all so much.
Are specific lucky dishes you always make, places you need to go or take-out you order? Is there a specific drink?
Jon: I usually make chili–very simple recipe if you want it, I’ll send it.
Ryan: I really don’t have a “lucky dish” that I have to make for the Super Bowl, which is probably surprising, considering how often the Patriots are playing for the Lombardi Trophy. I mean, by now, going on five Super Bowls in the past 11 seasons, you’d think I’d have a very specific, well-rehearsed menu, right? What I’m trying to say is, the Patriots are the best team ever and your favorite team is dumb and stupid.
Bryan: I have, for almost every single one of the last 10 years, gone to the same friend’s house for the Super Bowl. It’s his Thing. He’s a Patriots fan, too, but hold up—he’s more of a Super Bowl Party fan than Patriots fan, i.e., he’ll cook during the entire game. Those signature delicious bread-bowl filled with onion dip which he once even made to go to Foxboro and a high school friend of mine threw it in a bonfire and never nearly as spicy as he thinks it is, no matter how often I tease him about it chili aren’t going to make themselves. But that’s what I’ve been snacking on these past few years. And Sam Adams, wherever I am.
Becky: This season I’ve gotten superstitious about making a new dip for each game that I go to my friend’s apartment. His fiancee makes a ton of food every week and I always have to contribute a dip. One of our friends has been riding a “bring Doritos and Dr. Pepper” good luck streak as well. That will continue. Also, the last few weeks I’ve been pouring myself a Macallan from his bar at the beginning of every quarter. but that might not be so much a “superstition” as a “drinking problem.”
Sarah: I’m not that superstitious about food items, but this question made think about it. Becky hosted the last time the Giants were in the Super Bowl and won. Unfortunately she’s back in NY and I’m in DC, so I’m already a little nervous. I gave serious thought to replicating the menu from that party. But then I brought it up to Jack, and he told me I was being ridiculous. If the Giants lose, it’s all his fault.
[Editor's note: Jack's a Redskins fan, which means this one heck of jinx he's fooling around with in his marriage.]
Do you have a regional food you like to have for the game that reminds you of either Boston or New York? Do you ever have someone ship you something (chips, soda, snack cakes) from home for football?
Jon: I try to include Sam Adams every game day.
Ryan: And there’s not a regional food plan I subscribe too, either. I suppose the customary choice of cuisine would be clam chowder, or maybe lobster, but the former seems way too filling to be included as part of a Super Bowl spread, and the latter is the equivalent of eating a giant bug. So until I figure out a way to get Mr. Bartley to email me a hamburger, the Boston dining options will remain limited.
Bryan: I am, sadly, the closest of my family to new England. But my brother lives in old England, which is just confusing. I’ll refer you back up to Sam Adams.
Becky: No regional foods that I always make, but specifically doing your reuben dip and pickle dip this weekend because I find them to be very region appropriate. The pastrami will come from the Carnegie Deli, since it is two blocks from my office.
Sarah: We pretty much get the same stuff here that we do in DC. I did order Giants plates and napkins online. They were on sale, which may not be a good sign.
Are you going somewhere to watch the game or are you hosting? Any rival going to be in attendance?
Jon: I’ll be at home. Jennifer and the dogs usually leave the room and/or the house because of my yelling. I cannot go to a Super Bowl party when the Pats are playing–unless everyone knows me really, really well.
Ryan: After the disaster that was the last Patriots Super bowl, there will be no Giants fans in attendance this time. And I won’t be making what is clearly a cursed baked Boursin and artichoke dip. This year it’s just the family, some Harpoons, and a pizza roll. And, for my nerves and overall sanity, a Patriots win.
Bryan: Per answer No. 1, I’ll probably watch at home. See, the last time the Patriots played the Giants, the host STAYED IN THE KITCHEN THE ENTIRE TIME COOKING. Which isn’t to say there weren’t enough other people there to make a good party. And it was a great party for them, as they were ALL Giants fans. It was my vision of hell. I left at halftime. The end did not surprise me. That said, I’d rather watch with a Giants fan I respect than a Pats fan I hate.
Becky: My friend Ben and his fiancee Cathy have hosted for every Giants game. I’ve been there probably 8 of the games (anytime I wasn’t at a bar or out of town). In recent weeks there have been about fifteen Giants fans in attendance and maybe one bitter Jets fan. (Impressive, considering it’s a studio apartment.) APPARENTLY though, our one friend’s fiancee is somehow both a Giants AND Patriots fan, and will be rooting for the Pats on Sunday.
[Editor's note: What? This is why you don't have two teams to root for since when faced with this very situation, the rooting interests cancel each other out. Something about two negatives making a positive or two positives being a positive and one negative and one positive being a negative. You don't argue with science.]
Sarah: We’re hosting, which was probably a bad decision. Although our guests will have various forms of entertainment, such as ”Sarah throws pillows after bad call”, “Sarah does the touchdown dance” and “Sarah has to be sedated after Eli’s 10th delay of game penalty”.
Is there a particular food or drink you associate with your team’s previous Super Bowl victories?
Jon: With victory, I used to drink a very small amount of Pappy van Winkle 20 year old. But that’s gone now. For the first one with the 01 Pats, I had a cigar. It was nice.
Ryan: That doesn’t mean I am without a favorite Super Bowl snack, because the pizza roll has been a long-standing hunger respite repeated in the Hudson house. While it most recently made an appearance during the AFC Championship Game (thanks to Sarah’s recipe), it made its debut for us during our late-night Super Bowl viewings growing up in Germany, when Dad would appear from the kitchen around 2 a.m. (six hours ahead, remember) with a freshly made pizza roll (and root beers). It’s really my first Super Bowl food memory.
Bryan: I used to guest/co-host a public access television show called “Football and booze.” This is totally true. And upon the Patriots beating the Eagles, I had to shotgun a Budweiser tall boy that had been kicked around all season for losing some contest I can’t even remember. It exploded in my face. It’s on tape. If I can find it, I’ll pass along. So yeah, that.
[Editor's note: Need to find this video as soon as possible. Public access drinking? How is this not already on YouTube?]
Becky: During the last Giants/Pats Super Bowl, I made a bunch of dips (obviously) but the one food that stands out as my good luck charm was a bacon cheese bread that involved onions cooked in bacon grease and it was awesome, but I can’t find the recipe anywhere, so I am thinking to keep the spirit of it alive I am going to make your jalapeno popper bread this year.
Sarah: Becky’s Buffalo Chicken Dip. Drew Magary said the color of it scared him, but it was delicious.
Or is all of this nonsense and you’re just too nervous about the Super Bowl to worry about game day sustenance?
Jon: I am not nervous yet. The Pats are going to lose. Why be nervous? Oh forgot to say that I always wear a Hannah throwback from 86, a 96 Pats hat, and an 07 t shirt. All three great eras.
Bryan: I am certainly more excited for this game than I was in 2007. I’m not nervous, because why bother? If they have a lead in the fourth quarter, then I’ll be nervous.
Becky: I am very very very nervous. but I’ve never been too nervous to not look at recipes. I looks at recipes the way men look at porn. excessively.
Sarah: I’m a nervous wreck regardless. I went through a bottle of Pepto just answering these questions.
Finally, a beautiful timeline of Patriots Super Bowl memories from The Gurgling Cod.
Super Bowl XX I watched with my parents, in the kitchen. I recall that the game produced a far more snack-intensive environment than usual spreads in our house. I attribute the Pats loss in part to a “The Fridge” poster I had put on the side of the fridge.” Meta, but unlucky.
Super Bowl XXXI I watched hunkered down in a terrible apartment I shared with John Kline, my hetero lifemate. As a Viking fan, he was good at rooting against the Packers. A 3rd quarter decision on my part that drinking whiskey would be “lucky” had some negative results for both of us. I remember only purchasing and consuming Vermont (not Wisconsin) Cheddar, and a knife ending up embedded in a cutting board.
Super Bowl XXXVI was the end of the best weekend of my life. I married the cinetrix on Saturday, and watched the underdog Pats win their first Bowl with, a crew of about 60, mostly folks who were in town for the wedding. My beloved spouse was not keen to entertain this crew in our home on our first full day as husband and wife, and after a Guys and Dollsesque search for a venue that could handle a party of our size, we wound up at a now-demolished Ground Round at Fresh Pond Circle. They were really cool, and even let me bring in a “lucky” 40 — a tradition had evolved during that season of drinking a 40 in the second half — for “focus” — the 40 prevents hopping up and down to get a fresh beer. It was great getting to watch the game with so many of my friends, and family.
Super Bowl XXXVIII I slid down to NYC to watch with my brother, future pickler Rick Field, and a cadre of our friends known as the Virtual Ale House from the robust email list. I made chicken wings, from scratch, for maybe the second or third time. Using my adaptation of the Cooks Illustrated receipt (sshh). The wing frying pot (a Danish enamel handmedown from a Chicago landlady) got dropped out of a car service car by an intoxicated me and was unscathed. Try that with your Le Creuset, newlyweds.
Super Bowl XXXIX I had moved to South Carolina. Fortunately, I had one kindred spirit (read Boston native/long suffering Pats fan) and we watched together. Unfortunately, he invited his grad school chum who thought he was fucking Adorno, and spend the time decrying the late capitalist excess or something. I made Bruschi Bruschetti, with mozzarella I made myself. The first batch of mozzarella is still the best I’ve made.
Super Bowl XLII saw me still in SC, and without anyone I trusted to watch the game with, save for my spouse, who cares about what I care about, but dislikes the impact football (pro or college) can have on my mood. I remember getting a premature call from my mom with about two minutes left in what turned out to be her last Pats Super Bowl. I don’t remember what we ate, which may be the problem, in that in the previous wins, some trouble had been gone to to make some special food. I decry superstition in the political realm, but you better believe I will be doing my share of magical thinking.
For XLVI, I am thinking of something black bean/habanero/Miami/caribbean out of respect for Vince Wilfork, (orphans have to stick together) and also the XXXVIII Wings, because my lovely partner has put up with all of the forms of BS evident above for the last ten years, and she asked for them.
The unfolding of Cod’s Super Bowl tale makes me feel peaceful, even though the journey obviously has its ups and downs. Maybe that’s the point, win or lose, the story continues on.