The Mountain Times

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Super bowl

Four years after New York stunned previously undefeated New England in Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots and Giants meet again.

Okay, let's get this out of the way. The "L" stands for 50; the "X" stands for 10. When the "X" is placed before the L, it means 50 minus 10, or 40. When it's after the "L" it means 50 plus 10, or 60, but we're still XIV years away from that. And when the "I" comes before the "V", it means 4, after means 6. All together, they mean 46. Got it? Good. Now, let's move on. In only IV years, we'll get to watch Super Bowl L. That's going to pose a real challenge to the poor graphic-weenies whose task it is to make "L" look exciting and dramatic. Good luck with that.

1 - S. B. XLVI Art


How it became Super

The first Super Bowl wasn't even called the Super Bowl at all. It was called… wait for it… THE AFL-NFL CHAMPIONSHIP! (Crickets chirping) Yeah, that's what everyone else thought, too, underwhelming.

Rumor has it that one of the team owners was watching his kid play with a Super Ball when the light of inspiration shone upon him. What's a Super Ball? It's a very elastic synthetic rubber compound that - oh, forget it; you're too young to remember. Anyway, it's far more likely that this tale was a fabrication to make a younger audience think all those septuagenarian owners were really hep cats. What's a hep cat? Exactly.

It was probably some sports reporter who'd covered a hundred college "Bowl" games, and concluded that the final game of the season should logically be called "super," and thus, the Super Bowl was born. Whatever.

After a shaky start, the much-ballyhooed "Big Game" was saved from oblivion by the antics of the New York Jets' quarterback, "Broadway Joe" Namath, and the Super Bowl was well on it's way to becoming an event akin to the Second Coming.


THIS YEAR'S REMATCH

If you've been living under a rock in Lower Slobbovia, the contestants this year are the New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady, versus the New York Giants led by Eli Manning. The two teams will wear the same colors they wore in their previous meeting. Players and fans alike are a superstitious lot, and many believe that road whites have been magically fortuitous for Eli Manning & Company, so that's the fashion statement you can expect from the New Jack City boys. The Pats are still smarting from the loss they suffered at the hands of the Giants, but rumors that they might wear uniforms the color of Giant's blood are greatly exaggerated. I think.

New England, which lost to New York 24-20 in early November, opened as a 3-point favorite for the Feb. 5 game. With 10 straight wins the Patriots, seem to have momentum. But their last loss was to the Giants.

It's the Patriots' first appearance since Manning and the Giants upset New England's pursuit of perfection in 2008. Back then, New England was a 12-point favorite, but New York's defense battered Brady, and Manning connected with Plaxico Burress on a late touchdown to win the Giants' third Super Bowl in franchize history.

The Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl for the fifth time in 11 years. Their most recent championship being in 2005.


TAILGATE

Tickets to the first Super Bowl in 1966 cost a whopping $12, and most of them went unsold. Now a ticket for a seat behind a steel girder in the nose-bleed section costs a year's salary, if you can find one at all. Most Super Bowl tickets are reserved years in advance by people who make more money in a minute than most make in a year. Their tailgate parties are catered by celebrity chefs whose engraved menus feature hors d'oeuvres made of endangered species, like fois gras from the liver of the last rhinoceros in Africa. (Maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

So even if you can't afford the price of a parking space at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, you can still have one hell of a tailgate party, and have a better view of the game than most of the people actually in the stadium. It takes a little advance planning, but that's half the fun, right? And you can take it as far as you like, festooning your living room with Super Bowl-themed decorations. A friend of mine has his living room painted in the team colors of his favorite NFL franchise. They played the Patriots in the Super Bowl a while back, and got their tail feathers handed to them.

Now you're not going to have to contend with the cold fingers and wet feet that come with the foul weather, which is pretty much a given February in Indiana. But beware of headaches. A little forethought in preparing snacks and finger food will save you from major clean up efforts after the festivities. And if your party includes the consumption of vast quantities of beer, planning ahead is essential. Here's a hint from an old pro: Take three Advil (or whatever brand you prefer) before you go to bed. And, most importantly, make sure there are designated drivers to get everybody home in one piece.

Back to the party. All agree that the most important part of a Super Bowl party is the football game. In the best of all possible worlds, you'd have a lavishly appointed man-cave featuring a 10-foot hi-def stereo home theater Jumbo-Tron with plush recliners for every guest, endless kegs of beer, and all the fatty, high cholesterol foods your wife won't let you eat-A man can dream!


Food and beverage:

Here are three of my top suggestions:

1) By local! There are Vermont micro-breweries that produce fantastic beers.

2) Use paper plates and line your baking sheets with foil.

3) Offer the least sloppy food possible. Folks want to watch the game while they're eating, not watch what they're eating while they're missing the game so as not to spill on the furniture or rugs. The worst offender are Buffalo wings, which presents a major problem as they are a staple at tallgates and your party will not be complete without them.

Here are a few quick and easy recipes for crispy, non-drippy (expect for the dips) tallgate foods:

Buffalo wings

Pre-heat oven to 400º. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or foil (use as many sheets as you can cram into your oven if you are feeding a mob. With multiple sheets increase the temperature to 425º.)

Make sure wings are defrosted and dry. The recipe calls for skinless wings, but it's the Super Bowl, so you can throw caution to the winds and leave the skin on, if you must.

Fill a 1-gallon Zip-lock bag half way with about 12-16 oz. of chicken wings (Gotta leave room for them to move). Add a packet of taco seasoning, and shake those babies! Repeat as often as necessary to accommodate the number of guests you have. Remember: Too many is better than too few! (That only goes for supply, not consumption! Yeah. Right.)

Transfer wings to baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Serve with low-fat bleu cheese dressing as a dip, and baby carrot sticks and celery on the side.

Fries

Pre-heat oven to 450º

Peel a sweet potato. Cut length-wise into nice hefty, but not too thick strips.

In a large bowl, mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. smoked paprika. (Double quantities for two potatoes, or as needed.)

Mix in potato strips until they're well-covered.

Transfer to cooking-sprayed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. These are great alone, but pretty good with a bleu cheese dip, too.

Onion rings

Pre-heat oven to 450º. Spray two large baking sheets with non-stick spray.

Cut 2 large sweet Vidalia onions into rings about 1/2" wide.

Put 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour in a Zip-lock bag. Whisk 1 cup low-fat buttermilk, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Combine 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs with 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning in a large shallow bowl.

Add a few onion rings at a time in flour and shake to coat. Dip rings in buttermilk mixture, then coat with bread crumbs. Transfer coated rings to baking sheets. Bake until golden crispy, about 20 minutes.

Guacamole

Peel, pit, and chop two avocados into 1/2" chunks, them mash them coarsely in a medium-sized bowl. Add 1/3 of a cup of fat-free salsa; mild, medium, or hot, according to your taste, 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, 2 teaspoons of lime juice, 1/8 tsp. of cumin, and 1/8 tsp. of salt.

If you're not going to serve it right away, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole to keep it from turning brown. You can refrigerate it for up to 4 hours. You can double, triple, or fourple these recipes, depending the number of fans you have to fill.


Those are the gotta-have-'em essentials for a Super Bowl party, and guess what? They're all WeightWatchers®-approved recipes! They taste great, and they won't clog your arteries (as fast.) It's a win-win! Enjoy this "win" during the game, because once it's over, one team will walking off the field heads down and fans cursing while the other is crowned XLVI Super Bowl Champion.

Tagged: Super Bowl