You could argue that the Super Bowl combines some of the worst, most regrettable traits of our great nation: overeating and drinking, brain-damage- and broken-bone-inducing violence, and the generation of tons of plastic trash, but at least this season it doesn't also involve Tom Brady.
While I'm no die-hard football fan, this year I made the mistake of reading League of Denial before the season was over. I was curious, see. I was reading Rotten Tomatoes ratings of Will Smith's movie Concussion, and several said it wasn't as powerful as the book it was based on, the aforementioned League of Denial. So then I had to read the book.
Suffice to say, I came away thinking the NFL is something like the Hunger Games. A few among us have been selected to risk their lives, in order to satisfy our desire for entertainment and violence. As a reward, they are given fame and money. In the Hunger Games the losers end up dead, and in the NFL a significant number of both winners and losers end up with brain damage. As a result of sustaining too many repeated concussive traumas, too many ex-NFL players end up depressed, suicidal, given to impulsive spending, addictions, and rage. There just isn't a way to prevent repeated collisions, where your body goes from 20-25mph down to 0, and your soft brain smacks against your skull. High-tech helmets won't do it; rules against leading with the head won't do it.
Whew. Told you it was the wrong week to read this book. I suppose the least we fans can do for their sacrifice is fork over the fame and money.
If you're been invited to a Super Bowl party this year or plan to host one (or just want to flop on the couch with a beer and lots of tasty treats), skip the storebought snacks and whip a few things up at home. Not only will you spare the earth those endless plastic clamshell containers, but you'll also spare yourself their contents.
VEGGIE PLATTER. It's not actually that hard to cut up carrot and celery sticks, a bell pepper, and a cucumber. Then open that recyclable metal can of garbanzo beans and throw it in the food processor for some hummus. You will need to buy tahini paste--more than one recipe's worth--but once you realize how easy it is to make hummus, you'll never go back to the plastic.
5-LAYER DIP. Recyclable metal can of refried beans. Recyclable glass jar of favorite salsa. Two ripe avocados, mashed. Reusable plastic container of sour cream (my sincere apologies--I have tried to make homemade sour cream a couple times and failed utterly). Shredded cheese. Small can of olives, if you don't detest them.
BRAIN FOOD. Fish is brain food. So are blueberries. How about some smoked salmon and boxed crackers with a box of cream cheese to spread? How about blueberries just washed and as they are? We can at least wish our undamaged brain mojo on the players.
MEATBALLS IN THE CROCK POT. All you need is a pound of ground beef, some breadcrumbs, parsley, salt & pepper, and an egg. Dump them in the slow cooker and pour a bottle of barbecue sauce over. Or, alternately, a large can of tomato sauce mixed with a can of whole-berry cranberry sauce. Let them cook on high 4-5 hours. (You can put everything in the container the night before and refrigerate.)
DEVILED EGGS. Seriously, there is no reason to buy a platter of these. All you have to do is boil some (preferably older) eggs. (Place eggs in cold water in pot. Set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let sit 15 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Peel when ready.) Cut the boiled eggs in half and pop the yolks into a bowl. Mash the yolks up with mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper to your preferred taste and consistency. Stuff the egg halves and sprinkle paprika over.
Have a great weekend, and may we be treated to not a single player seeing stars or being carted off the field!