Cristina Ferrare
I love, love, love football, and I especially love Super Bowl Sunday!
I went to my first Super Bowl at the Orange Bowl stadium in Miami for Super Bowl X when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21 to 17. What a game! It was so exciting! I arrived in Miami on a Friday for parties that went on nonstop until the big game on Sunday. I happened to be there with some friends who had connections with the NFL, so I got to go to all of the festivities before the game, including meeting all of the players. Of course, as much as I loved meeting the players, I was more interested in what was on those seemingly endless buffet tables that were everywhere. I had never seen so much food in my life!

There were tons of pretzels and chips of every kind with dips in every color. Fried chicken wings with super-duper hot sauce, baked ham, ham roll-ups, biscuits, things wrapped in bacon, pigs in a blanket, mile-high deli platters, cheese trays and submarine sandwiches. In the middle of the room was an enormous shrimp and crab platter beautifully displayed in an ice sculpture shaped like the Orange Bowl. There was a huge ice football helmet on top of the sculpture dripping droplets of water onto the fish platters, keeping them fresh and cold.

There were mile-high french fries that kept coming every five minutes because people were gobbling them up in seconds. There were mounds of creamy mashed potatoes, bread boats with creamy dips, every cheese ever invented, pizza, rib roasts, grilled cheeseburgers, barbecued chicken and ribs, hot dogs, chili, chili fries, baked beans, coleslaw, salads—with gobs and gobs of ranch dressing—along with many more salads. The buffet plates were so full that everything just ran together and you couldn't make out what was on your plate anymore. You can only imagine what the dessert table looked liked.

All of this was continuously served all day and into the wee hours of the morning. Then, the doors were opened up to yet another room where the breakfast buffet was served. Need I explain what was on those tables?

Cristina's tips for throwing a Super Bowl party at home 
For our Super Bowl party at home, I definitely try to tone down the choices because the dilemma for me is that I want to eat everything! I always say to myself, "I will only take a little tiny bit of everything" and I do, but there is so much food on the table I inevitably end up with a huge plate that I have to defend. I always make the comment when I sit down and eat to the people sitting around me, "Oh, I can't possibly eat all of this, but I wanted to taste everything." Five minutes later, I will have managed to wolf it all down without a problem.

I plan our Super Bowl party to make sure everyone is happy and satisfied with a balance of foods so that halfway through the third quarter people are not starting to feel uncomfortable trying to stifle their burps! In other words, you won't find endless piles of chips and greasy foods on the coffee table. Beer, grease and sour cream just don't mix well!

You may be surprised to know that if you include a platter of crudités with a dip made from your favorite vinaigrette recipe, people will actually nosh on it, including the kids!

Of course, you have to have chips and salsa. I serve baked tortilla chips instead of fried. I like to put them in the oven for five minutes at 400° because it brings out the natural flavor of the corn and makes the tortilla chips crispier. I serve the chips with homemade guacamole and salsa. I limit the potato chips to the thick ruffled kind; they're more satisfying then the thin, oily, salty ones, and you tend to eat less of them.

Everyone who has been invited to our home to watch the game knows that there is one rule: Do not to talk to me during the game! I'm one of those in-your-face-talk-to-the-TV-people who can't concentrate on anything else while the game is on—not even during the commercials. I have to watch it all. The annual commercial with the Clydesdale horses still gets to me big time. The music, the majesty of those beautiful animals, their magnificent hoofs marching and crunching in the snow, the snow gently falling all around, the Dalmatian dog—all of it!

I save desserts for after the game because I noticed over the years that anyone who has been eating sweets right after the main buffet—at halftime and for two more quarters after that—will become increasingly more vocal and aggressive. By the last two minutes of the game, you can smell the testosterone in the room and spilled drinks on the floor. We women keep right up the guys and are just as aggressive because we've eaten more chocolate!

So to prepare for the big day I have to plan and make the food in advance so that by halftime I can just place everything on the table and it's ready to go. I'm not much for the halftime show, so at least that frees me up to get the food out. During the last 10 minutes of the second quarter (it always turns into 15 or 20), I run into the kitchen where I have a TV to keep up with the game and start taking out the food to put on the buffet table.

Here is a dish I would like to share with you that is a big hit and a favorite at our house: Kick-Butt Chili.

Sending "A Big Bowl of Love" from my buffet table!


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