Friday, February 2, 2007

Bears and Colts – Extending the Palette

I was one of those people rooting for the New Orleans Saints in the play-offs, and not only for the post-Katrina civic boost it would bring to the Crescent City. There were even better reasons for cheering the underdogs that had come so far—the team’s black and gold colors would make for some pretty stylin’ football food.

Besides the figural molding and sculpting of food into the iconic shapes of the football, there is another school of food styling that expresses our passion and allegiance—sporting the team’s colors. Stripped down to its primal essence, colors signify our tribe and unify us into nations of us and them. We wear the colors, wave them, drive them, paint our faces, hair and midriffs with them. And increasingly, we ingest them too.

I live on the silvery border of Minnesota and Wisconsin called the St. Croix river. On the weekend of an important internecine battle, the supermarkets on each side of the river will place their orders (no doubt at the same industrial bakery) for hotdog buns colored purple and orange (Vikings), and green and yellow (Packers). And the color scheme goes further than breadstuffs to include yogurt, ice cream, dips, cheese, cakes and sometimes the hot dogs that go into those buns. The colors never come out quite right, they get muddied and dull; it’s a very unnatural treatment of food.

So the challenge for me is to find foods of the proscribed tribal colors that appear naturally and unmitigated by dyes or paints. But, boy that is tough to do this year when the opposing teams in this year’s Superbowl both have blues in their team palette. Blue is notoriously hard to find in the natural world; some flowers, a few birds and fishes, a couple of rocks and that’s it. And the blues found in food are usually tinged with purple or red, not a vibrant colbalt blue anywhere in a pint of blueberries. The Indianpolis Colts are just out of luck and will have to rely on artificial means to attain the right hues for the god-effigies they wish to eat on Sunday. The Chicago Bears have it a little easier because their blue is navy blue and they add a splash of orange.

Here is what you can put together with a variety of potato chips and corn chips -- the Chicago Bears, and the Minnesota Vikings.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Gridiron Guacamole

I might be going a little crazy with this but it could have been worse -- I once saw a gridiron made out of alfalfa sprouts with two teams of crudites arrayed on top, a mushroom cap fading back for a pass.

Then I wasted a lot of time watching "Ugly Betty," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Men in Trees" before deciding I really needed some goalposts on the field. But it was too late to go out for pretzel sticks and Cheez Whiz, I had to make do with what was on hand. The celery didn't work at all no matter how flat I planed it. And the peanut butter as glue didn't hold up as it warmed to room temperature. Finally, some fast work with a cracker and frozen peanut butter.