It was just the other day that I read, in The New York Times no less, that Brad Pitt will be cheering for the Kansas City Chiefs in this afternoon’s Super Bowl. That, along with his devilish good looks, is something we just happen to have in common. (Had I managed to develop any acting skills, that could have been me in the backseat of Thelma and Louise’s 1966 convertible Thunderbird.)
Mr. Pitt grew up in Missouri and is, by default, a Chiefs fan. I’ll be pulling for the Chiefs because I’m a Bears fan. As a Bears fan, it is my responsibility to find another team to support sometime after the third game of the regular season. That’s usually the time frame in which it becomes mathematically impossible for the Bears to even have a winning season, let alone an appearance in the playoffs.
For the record, it should be noted that the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985. Later that year I met Jim McMahon, the team’s quarterback, at the Playboy Mansion. He struck me as an pompous, arrogant ass—sort of how I imagine Tom Brady.
I chose the Chiefs this year for several reasons. In 1999, my son and I stayed in a hotel in Kansas City that offered a bird’s eye view of Arrowhead Stadium. That is as much as it takes to declare allegiance to a football team. However, it was baseball season and so we went to Kauffman Stadium, which is just a parking lot away, to watch the Kansas City Royals rout the Chicago Cubs in an inter-league game.
While Kansas City, Missouri, has sports, Kansas City, Kansas, has museums commemorating the wartime aviation, the blues, and the Negro Baseball Leagues. Both cities are fine places to visit.
The main reason I’ll be cheering the Chiefs this afternoon is Patrick Mahomes. He’s a stellar athlete with a sense of play to complement his commanding control of the game. Personable and friendly, he seems the opposite of McMahon.
But enough about football, a sport that regularly features concussions, torn ACLs, and spinal cord injuries.
The Super Bowl is a showcase for clever advertising of products ranging from luxury cars and pickup trucks to alcohol and snack chips. The afternoon’s main themes are dips. Avocado, beans, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and artichokes all blend with other foodstuffs which are consumed with any number of chip and crackers. Fritos, Lays and Tostitos own the day with their salty, crisp goodness that helps fuel beer consumption.
There is also a vegetable tray that is widely ignored.
Chili is a major player on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s the only food that gets a bowl and a plastic spoon. The other stuff doesn’t even get a plate, resulting in participants holding the dipped stuff—including wings—on a cocktail napkin that, when saturated with dips, needs to be disposed of. That, of course, means the eater loses his or her place in front of the 92-inch television screen.
I used to be too late to claim a good seat at the Super Bowl party we used to attend. It was because I was at the film festival that was held in our town. It was six or eight films shown on Sunday afternoons in the dead of winter. Frequently, the films didn’t end until well into the second quarter of the Super Bowl.
The film festival showcased movies that were, to say the least, obscure and unlikely to be shown in any theater. One of the films I remember best was called Patata. It was an Italian, black-and-white film about an impoverished family trying to grow potatoes in the volcanic ash at the base of Mt. Etna in Sicily.
Deeply compelling, none of my friends at the Super Bowl party cared to listen to my recap of the movie. I was even called at least one uncomplimentary name for my expressing an interest in the fine arts.
But there’s more to Super Bowl Sunday than just food, drink and a perfunctory nod to the game itself. There’s the half-time show.
An extravagant spectacle of pre-recorded songs, the half-time show typically features pop artists who dangle over the stage from massive cranes. There are usually 800 dancers who have learned to lip-sync the lyrics to the three or four hit tunes. There is usually a band.
Unless there’s a wardrobe malfunction, the most interesting thing about the half-time show is wondering how the crew can set up the stage and then tear it down in time for the second half. That’s a side story I’d pay money to watch.
To make sure the audience doesn’t wander too far from the television arena in search of Pepto Bismol, there is the promise of the annual Budweiser commercial following the half-time show. That, of course, might not take occur until the middle of the fourth quarter. Most everybody loves the Budweiser commercial, even if they find the beer itself to be watery and tasteless. Who, after all, doesn’t shed a tear or two at the sight of a Clydesdale and a Beagle rubbing noses in the middle of a dirt road?
There is some alternative programming set for today. There’s always the “Puppy Bowl,” in which several cute puppies do cute puppy things while Patti Page sings “(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window.” There’s also the “Fish Bowl,” in which guppies and the sort swim around rather aimlessly. This is a show for stoners and requires a healthy supply of Hostess products.
Sadly, for some, “The Kitten Bowl” has been cancelled this year to make room for “The Great American Rescue Bowl.” Hosted by George Santos, the Jerry Lewis MDA-like telethon, will solicit funds to help starving and mistreated animals. At the end of the show, Santos absconds with all the money.
Photography and food styling by Courtney A. Liska
Heat oven to 350°.
On a baking sheet, evenly spread an entire bag of tortilla chips.
Squeeze the juice of one lime over the chips.
Layer Mexican-style cheese over chips, followed by a layer of shredded beef. Spread one can of refried beans (heated) on top. Then add another layer of cheese, another layer of shredded beef and more cheese. Top with diced tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and sliced black olives.
Bake until the cheese is thoroughly melted (15-25 minutes). Serve with guacamole and sour cream.
Walt Weissman says
Jim, this was wonderful!