Iwas picking up some groceries at my local Indian store and the lady in front of me would not budge from the cold storage aisle. She kept piling up her cart with Samosas of all varieties — potato, spinach and potatoes, peas and potatoes. I was worried that she would leave none for me, and I
would be forced to travel another five miles to fetch two
packets of Samosas. At the check-out counter, the sales person commented on the 20 packets she had picked up and the
lady commented, “What to do? Super Bowl you know!”
Actually she said ‘Super Ball,’ and she was not really off the
mark. Apparently Lamar Hunt, owner of the AFL’s Kansas
City Chiefs had thought of the name because his children
were obsessed with a Super Ball toy!
American Football is America’s most popular sport; the
final game is called the Super Bowl and the day is Super
Sunday. Observing the crazy obsession for the game, I figured that American Football is to the US what cricket is to
Gearing up to watch the final game is similar to what
Indians do for the finals of any international cricket match;
the buzz is even louder if the match is between India and
Pakistan. Then it is almost war. In all fairness, we love the
Pakistani cricketers and across the border they love our
Indian cricketers, but it is war nonetheless.
An unbelievable number of hours on every news channel
were devoted to the run-up of the final game. What commercials would become popular this year, the logic of some
new branding, sale of merchandise and analysis of why
Coldplay was the chosen performer for the halftime extravaganza? Contests on which player is the hottest, who has the
best abdominal muscles, and who looks like the best family
man! Not to mention details on players and the teams that
were repeated ad nauseam.
Since I haven’t yet figured out the game, or why it is even
referred to as Football (since the ball is not kicked by foot)
the part that interested me the most was the Super Bowl
food. Clearly, I was in good company because Super Bowl is
the second largest consumption day in the US, surpassed
only by Thanksgiving!
Local groceries, delis and restaurants had been advertising
their Super Bowl foods aggressively, and popular foods had
to be ordered at least a week in advance. All in all, this Super
Bowl, almost 11 million pounds of potato chips, 278 million
avocados, 4 million pounds of pretzels, and 2.5 million
pounds of nuts were expected to be consumed. Not to men-
tion the 1.3 chicken wings and more than 4 million slices of
pizzas that would be washed down with almost 51.7 million
cases of beer.
I decided to skip the party invites and spent the evening at
home with my children. I wanted to make the chicken wings
from scratch; I should have ordered from Candlelight Inn
instead. But making the wings took me on another journey
I realized that it’s a big, if not a happy day for chickens.
According to the National Chicken Council, a trade association for companies that raise broiler chickens and make
chicken products, this year nearly 1.3 billion chicken wings
were expected to be served on Super Sunday. Four ‘wings’
come from each chicken — two ‘drumettes’, the piece closest
to the chicken’s body and two ‘flats’, the doubled-bones piece
that looks like a human forearm. (There is a third part too
called the tip, the flexible end of the wing, made up primarily of cartilage and skin and it is sold to China for a popular
deep fried snack.) You can do the math on how many chickens lost their lives for this big day; PETA claims it is 600 million.
Chicken wings were not always a popular food in the US,
and have become THE Super Bowl food only in the last two
decades. Fifty years ago, wings were the discarded pieces that
got thrown into the pot to make chicken stock.
Legend has it that one day Dominic Bellisimo’s friends
ambled in late into the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, that
was owned by his family. It was closing time, and he request-
ed his mother Teressa to serve them some food. The mother
was out of better cuts of chicken and meats so she threw in
some chicken wings into
hot oil, fried them, then
dunked them in some hot
sauce and served it to
Dominic and his friends.
Within no time at all, the
Anchor Bar became
famous for the chicken
wings, and Buffalo became
the preferred sauce!
Today there are ‘speciali-
ty’ wings restaurants all
over the US, and each
town has its own favorites
as well. Scarsdale’s
Candlelight Inn is THE
place for wings, and they
stop taking orders the
Tuesday before (and for
some reason I have missed
it every single year).
When I first moved to
the US I was confused with
the name Buffalo wings.
Then I realized that, of
course, buffaloes do not
have wings, and this
Buffalo is a sauce (possibly
named in honor of the
place where chicken wings
first became edible). The
Buffalo sauce has many
variants, and it mostly con-
sists of hot sauce (made
from cayenne, habanero,
jalapeno and chipotle peppers), butter, vinegar,
Worcestershire sauce, salt and garlic in variable
Wings are accompanied with celery and a blue
cheese or ranch dip! There are many other sauces
to choose from-from the fiery blazing ones that
burn the tongue and cause stomach cramps to the mild buttered fare in many bars; a popular chain also has a Mumbai
Samosas are one of our favorite cricket snacks, and like the
Indian Samosas, Buffalo wings are not simple to master. A
good Samosa and a perfect wing are crisp on the outside and
juicy and flavorful on the inside. And like the filling for the
Samosa must be the right blend of spices, the sauce that the
wings are dunked into must balance the butter and the spice.
I tried to follow the game dutifully and my son kept up a
constant commentary on the whys, whats and hows of the
game throughout. My favorite part though were the half-time performances.
Beyoncé was outstanding as was Bruno Mars, but my hero
was Coldplay. They put India on the stage — on all their
instruments, Coldplay was written in Hindi. It was such an
awesome moment, and Twitter lit up with this detail!
I contributed faithfully to the second highest consumption
day in the US, with wings, pizzas, guacamole, chips and beer.
I also added Samosas to the fare!
I can safely state that I went above the minimum of 1,200
calories and 50 grams of fat that the Calorie Control Council
had estimated people would consume from Super Bowl
snacks alone. And if I did not freelance, I definitely would
have been part of the 6 percent of Americans who must have
reported in sick on Monday.
It did not matter finally that yet another year has gone by
and I am as clueless about American Football; I tried making some new dishes and had fun with my family. And helped
those chicken wings fulfill their destiny! n
Preeti Singh is the author of Unravel and Great Books for
Children. She manages goodbookcorner.com, a space for
book reviews and author interviews. She is currently based
in Scarsdale, New York.
AT HALF-TIME &
Preeti Singh might be clueless about
the game, but she thoroughly revels in the
Super Bowl experience.
CHRIS TOPHER POLK/GE TT Y IMAGES
Chris Martin and his band Coldplay with Beyoncé.