• Pat Opperman

SUPER BOWL LIV: The Biggest Decision

Forget about the point spread, prop bets, and MVP talk. What are you going to serve?

In kitchens all around the country, possibly one in your neighborhood, people are busy dying vegetables and dinner rolls in team colors, shaping filled pizza dough into footballs, and baking cakes in the shape of a football stadium.

They imported steaks from Kansas City and shipped in sour dough from San Francisco. They ordered ice sculptures with the logos of both teams flanking the Lombardi trophy.

Those people are insane.

That’s not to say food isn’t important. There were a couple of years I was forced to watch the big game alone and I still invested more than a few dollars in little pizzas, hot dogs in a pastry, and chicken fingers.

So what are we going to serve during Super Bowl LIV?

For the exceptionally lazy fans

Back in 1924, Clarence Birdseye figured out how to rapidly freeze foods so they would last a long time. He wasted his invention on vegetables.

Fortunately, someone else started freezing things like pizza, pizza rolls, and mini-pizzas.

You can also find frozen potato skins, mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, and enough other items have a nice variety of quick and easy football snacks.

Don’t forget to swing by the baked goods section for a cake with a plastic football on it.

For fans who mean well, but ran out of time

Two words: take out.

One season, my grown daughters surprised me by showing up for the game at the last minute.

A local pizzeria saved the day. They had a couple of pies, a mountain of chicken wings, cheeses sticks, and garlic knots at my door in 40 minutes.

It’s okay to stay basic and traditional with pizza and wings. Throw in

a few bowls of chips and cheese puffs and make sure you don’t run out of drinks and you’ll be fine.

If you’re not sure how the guests are taking it, casually mention what a hectic week you had.

For those with friends who know you didn’t have a hectic week

There’s no getting around it. You’ll have to get creative. The key is to trick your guests into thinking the takeout food is something else.

One season, I cut my pizza into thin slices and lopped off the edges. Then I rolled each slice and popped a toothpick in it. Now I had “homemade” pizza rolls to serve.

Then, I had the local burger joint deliver a bunch of burgers. I cut a one-inch round hole in the center of each burger. I ate the centers and cut the remaining rings into 6-8 pieces. With a toothpick in each section, I had super-mini sliders!

I cut submarine sandwiches long-ways down the middle and sliced them into 2-inch pieces. I put a toothpick in each of them so I had… small sandwich things.

The point is if you cut up anything and stick a toothpick in it, it becomes an hors-d'oeuvres.

Don't forget chips and drinks.

When you have discerning friends, but no patience in the kitchen

If your friends expect a themed Super Bowl menu, you’re in luck.

Kansas City and San Francisco aren’t exactly the most imaginative culinary centers of the world.

San Francisco is most associated with seafood and sour dough bread. Clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl is a local specialty, from what I am told.

In my house, there will be a bowl full of clam chowder with some sour dough pretzels or pieces of bread on a plate under the chowder.

Hopefully, no one looks deep enough into my trash to find the soup cans.

Ghiradelli Chocolate was founded in San Francisco, too.

Buy a plastic tray of warehouse store brownies and a can of whipped cream.

Stick a Ghiradelli square in the whipped cream and voila! A brilliant nod to the Golden Gate crowd.

Kansas City is mostly known for their barbecued beef and beans.

You can overnight steaks from the Kansas City Steak Company.

The home of the Chiefs also has a special recipe for baked beans.

The secret is burnt brisket ends.

But lets face it. How many of our friends have been to Kansas City?

Much less know what a burned brisket end taste like.

Just buy some barbecue sauce and flank steaks to grill up on a skillet or grill.

Then find an unusual flavor of fancy baked beans at the grocery store.

Serve 'em up warm in a bowl.

Be sure to bury the evidence below the clam chowder cans.

Fill in the blank sections of your serving table with chips or your favorite home-delivered wings.

If you have snooty in-laws coming over, buy a cheese platter to class up the presentation.

With enough alcohol, you'll be the toast of your Super Bowl party.