Football season has officially kicked off.  This means a lot of things for sports fans everywhere…things like buffalo wings, beer, bloody marys, taco dip and pizza.  These football food favorites are fall staples for a reason, but the Dish team got to wondering: is traditional “pub grub” the only way to go when hunkering down to watch the big game?  The He Said/She Said team weighs in:

She Said – Try Something New! – by Elizabeth C.

Football season is fun.  Really fun.  It provides a built-in activity for your fall and winter weekends (and Monday nights!) that can be tailored to the level of social interaction you choose.  Want to make it an event?  Tailgate or go to a team bar or restaurant.  Want to make it casual?  Watch from your couch with appetizers or a pizza.  The common element no matter how many fellow fans you choose to enjoy the game with? Food.

Food is a major component of any game day.  This is evidenced by the fact that I can’t think of the Super Bowl without Nacho Cheese Doritos coming to mind, and I closely associate the consumption of bloody marys with college football season.  That being said, football season lasts a long time – 17 weeks, to be exact – and that’s not counting the postseason.  If you stick exclusively to pub fare that entire time, you’ll not only be bored, you’ll probably resemble a linebacker.

My vote in today’s He Said/She Said goes to trying something new for your next game day meal.  Break out of that buffalo-sauce drenched comfort zone and get creative.  Your taste buds and your waistline will thank you.

Now let’s be clear: I’m not suggesting appletini’s and fruit sushi to replace your pizza and beer, but you can take some baby steps to spice up your pub fare that will make game day meals a lot more interesting.

If you like to tailgate or watch the games at home, you miss out on a great opportunity to get creative by sticking to your standard order.  Homemade wings, different variations of chili and even hummus and veggies can be a big hit during games.  Want to go gourmet?  Try lamb chop lollipops instead of chicken fingers, lobster rolls instead of hot dogs or hot artichoke dip with pita chips instead of chips and salsa.  The guys tailgating next to you might scoff at first, but I guarantee their brats look less exciting next to your full rack of ribs.

You don’t have to dress up your snacks every game, but changing your routine can be a fun addition to gameday – and add an element of intrigue for those fans who aren’t as into the game as others 🙂

He Said – Calling an audible is not out of the question but tread carefully! – by Phil V.

I agree with Liz that stepping a little outside the norm is never a bad thing, but I think you need to walk that sideline carefully before you go out of bounds.  For many people, watching football is incredibly steeped in tradition and the food that you eat during this All American ritual is a big part of that.  I typically watch the game with a group of friends.  We rotate the game watching location but the spread usually remains pretty similar.  You have all of your staples: chips, dip, sausage, meatballs, etc., etc, etc.  I feel like the food I know to expect is as much a part of the experience as the game itself, so it is a little risky to call that audible with a group of people that are expecting one thing and get another.

Having said that though, I am intrigued by the idea of mixing up the usual a little bit the next time I host a group to watch our beloved Chicago Bears take the field.  This actually reminds me of a game a few years ago that I was hosting where my wife brought out a platter of thinly sliced artisan bread with goat cheese and some sort of mango spread complemented with figs on the side (I can’t believe I remembered and wrote that). The initial reaction was one of fear from the beer guzzling, nacho eating group of guys in front of the TV, but once that first brave armchair quarterback jumped into the game of culinary unknown, that plate of strange and exotic fair had disappeared pretty quickly.  The key was that it was mixed in with the comfort foods that this group had come to know, and more importantly, expect at a game day event.

I think the point I am trying to make is that there is always room to expand your taste buds into the uncomfortable, but you need to ease into it.  Start slow and replace some of those processed items each week with some as Liz had stated above.  Instead of those crock pot cooked frozen meatballs, get some fresh ground turkey and roll it into a delicious and healthier option for that game day tradition.  Even the fact that it still looks like a meatball may make it easier to swallow for those resistant to anything other than what they have become accustomed to.

Looks like Liz and I are pretty much in agreement again, which I know is not very fun, but the traditional game day fair is an incredible opportunity to introduce new cuisine to a group resistant to change or a group looking to expand their culinary horizons.

What do you eat or serve on game days?  Do you prefer to go to a restaurant for the game instead of staying in (a great option to enjoy the game with no preparation or clean up!)? Let us know in the comments below!