When the news hit the blogs that 1.77 million pounds of Velveeta cheese was recalled -- not because it was bad, but because the packaging failed to mention that the product contained soy, putting everyone with a soy allergy at risk -- the "hot take" that all of the bloggers reporting the story mentioned was the fact that everyone's Super Bowl parties were going to be ruined. There was a big "cheese shortage" in America now, after all. "How can you throw a legitimate party without having access to the Velveeta cheesy goodness?" was the popular angle.
An angle which, frankly, doesn't make any sense: A great Super Bowl party is not the one with the ubiquitous globular rubbery processed clumpy cheese block.
But that got me thinking: What else are people throwing Super Bowl parties doing wrong? Seeing as it's one of those days of the year where everyone feels allowed to eat like a terrible idiot, the answer is "a lot." So, here are five rules to keep in mind during this year's Super Bowl party blow-out extravaganza if you don't live in a dorm and/or have even the slightest bit of self-respect.
Rule Number 1: Keep Pork to a Minimum
Whenever discussing pork, there's always a moral case to be made about whether or not it makes sense to eat such an intelligent animal -- pigs are way smarter than dogs, and roughly have the intelligence of a three-year-old human child -- but that's not the main issue at stake here. No, what's even more problematic is that having pork at a Super Bowl party just isn't unique anymore. Bacon this, bacon that, bacon everything. If you really respected bacon and pork products, you'd understand it should be used sparingly and purposefully, not just as a catch-all to spice up every dish. And if you're even thinking about getting some of those late night informercial bacon bowls, you can probably stop reading here.
Rule Number 2: Branch Away from American Cuisine
It may seem sacrilegious to try to get exotic on the Most American Of All Days, but a party is also a place to share knowledge. So, instead of going the tired route of just grilling up hot dogs and sausages, try out a few culinary staples from around the globe. Make some chicken shawarma wraps. Order up a spread from your favorite local Ethiopian place. At the very least, put together a small DIY taco area for people sick of burgers.
Rule Number 3: Throw Some Vegetables On Your Plate
Every year, someone does the sane thing and brings a pre-made plate of veggies to the proceedings, which are then quickly pushed to the end of the table and forgotten about. Veggies don't go over too well at Super Bowl parties unless they're (a) deep-fried; (b) covered in ranch dressing; (c) dunked in melted cheese; or (d) all of the above. So, make a point to reserve at least half of your plate for some greens. Not only will you fail to get the post-game lethargy from the mid-game carb-loading, you'll also get a nice feeling of superiority. And take it from me, there's no greater gift you can give yourself than that.
Rule Number 4: Make Your Own Desserts
This should be a given, but I've been to enough Super Bowl parties in my day to know that all of the culinary focus is put towards the main spread, while the dessert tray is left to the whims of whoever happens to stop by Ralph's on the way over. Don't be like that. That's amateur hour. Instead, make your own pies from the crust up. (Oh, and here's a special rule addendum: Make a gluten-free dessert while you're at it. Your friends who are swimming in those dietary waters will leave the festivities impressed with your consideration.)
Rule Number 5: Microbrews Only
It's far too easy to just head over to the nearest 7-Eleven, drop $40 on a few cases of Corona and Bud Light, and call it a shopping afternoon. Instead, use your beer stock as an opportunity to showcase your ability to curate a nice cross-section of local microbrews. Take an afternoon next week to check out some of L.A.'s finest microbreweries, bring home a handful of your favorites, and show off your taste with a perfectly stocked cooler. Oh, opt for these wine selections!
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