Food and Football

22 January 2010
This evening, we ate at Panera. I had a gift card, so it was a rather inexpensive meal. I learned that Panera isn’t such a great place for vegetarians; nearly every soup, salad and sandwich has some kind of meat (almost always chicken) in it. There are a couple of salads without meat, but they’re just plain, boring salads, which I could buy at any restaurant. The only non-meat soup is a French Onion concoction, which I tried last time I was at Panera, and it tasted like snot. Or, rather, it tastes like what I imagine snot would taste like.
I was weak today and ordered the potato soup, which has chicken in it. I’m not sure why they had to throw chicken in there, but they did. I ordered it in a bread bowl, which my wife lovingly pointed out is a waste of money since it:
A. Costs $1.00 more,
B. Doesn’t have as much soup as a regular bowl, and
C. GIve a person way more bread than they actually want to consume.

23 January 2010
Today was a stay-at-home day. My wife decided she was going to make a big batch of really tasty soup. She used a bunch of fresh ingredients, including whole peppers that she chopped up. She even sent me to the store to purchase some cumin. This was the only time all day that I left home. I drove four blocks. Yes, I know, it’s kind of pathetic to drive four blocks. But, come on, the sidewalks are buried under mounds of snow, and it was raining. So I drove to Mississippi market and bought some bulk cumin.
I took the first spoonful of soup and immediately began coughing. The vapors alone were spicy enough to irritate my respiratory system. Owen declared it was too spicy and didn’t take a second spoonful. Jennifer concurred. I finished the bowl of soup (it was tasty, after all), though it required me to get up twice: once to refill my glass of water and once to blow my nose. I actually used the soup more as a kind of salsa, dipping lime flavored chips into the soup to scoop up just the smallest amount. Jennifer plans to buy some more broth to dilute it. Oh well…

24 January 2010
Today, while the rest of the state spent the evening with their best friend (football), Owen and I went and played board games with a meet-up group.
I don’t want to say I don’t care about football, but by comparison to nearly everyone else, I really don’t. My parents are the same way, and so I guess I inherited such non-caring from them. The thing is, I don’t really get the whole attraction to the local team – or any local team, for that matter. What’s the appeal of the one particular team that happens to play closer to my home than any other? I mean, I understand why a person would support their local high school, or even college team: they maybe went to that school, their kids go to that school, or maybe it’s just because all the kids from that school are the local neighborhood kids. But not so pro-sports. Players are traded back and forth across the country and no thought is given to where the team resides. If I’m a Vikings fan, what does that mean? Did I love the Vikings team that existed in 1998? If so, is it just coincidence that I am a fan of the 2009 team? Because they’re two totally different teams, made up of people who were raised and schooled from various other states and who maybe spent the bulk of their pro careers playing for other teams.
Maybe people like the local teams because, hey, they play in a conveniently located place. I could understand this with baseball, where the home team plays nearly a hundred home games each year. But football? How attached can you get to a team that plays in town ten times at most? And considering the going rate for seats at a football game, how many home games does a person even attend? Most fans just watch it on TV, thereby negating the benefit of having them play nearby. I guess, in this way, I am more capable of understanding one’s love of a particular athlete, regardless of the team they’ve partnered with this year. I am much more sympathetic to people’s attraction towards Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, or Michael Jordan than to, say, the Timberwolves.
And isn’t it odd that we don’t apply this proximity rule to anything else? Should I prefer the music of Bob Dylan or Prince, or that old classic Surfin’ Bird due to their Minnesotan roots? Does Jingle All the Way, or anything by the Coen brothers automatically get two thumbs up?
I am also intrigued by the emotional investment given such teams. WIthin minutes of today’s loss, my Facebook page was flooded with angry, upset, and otherwise depressed friends – some who I didn’t even know cared for football. I have a few favorite films from the past year – and if they do not take home some Oscar gold next month, I am going to be mighty pissed off.

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2 Responses to Food and Football

  1. Cory says:

    I have learned that football is similar to patriotism.

    A person is expected to cheer for their local teams, just like rooting for their own country to be superior to all others. Football is much more war-like than other sports, they use terms as “going into battle” as two opposing armies fighting for victory. In modern times, it is an outlet for Minnesota fans to fight New Orleans fans in a football stadium, which is safer than being divided over racism, politics, or poverty.

    That being said, when I grew up my family was not interested in sports so I don’t have the generations of sports fans to contend with. I myself like football and baseball, but I try not to become emotionally invested in the sports performance of men I don’t know and have no stake in whether they succeed or not.

    On another topic, when did you become a vegetarian?

  2. James says:

    Yeah, I can see the appeal of support the home team, which is why I said I understand why people root for the local high school and college teams. But how many Minnesotans (or even western Wisconsinians) are on the VIkings roster right now?
    And, yeah, I could understand liking one particular team. To use the obvious example, the Vikings played very well this season, so there was a lot to like. But does that mean I like the VIkings in general? Will they be the same team this fall? I contrast this with bands: when I say I like U2, I am speaking of a very consistent roster of musicians. With bands that have drastically changed in style or personnel through the years, it’s more likely to hear people placing caveats on their fandom: “Oh I like the band Genesis – but only their early stuff,” “The Beach Boys were cool, but only until Brian Wilson dropped out.”

    On another topic: I’m not really a vegetarian, but my wife is, and I see no reason to oppose this. Red meat always does a number on my digestive tract, so I’ve shunned that stuff for years. I like eating birds, though, but I’m trying to cut down on that. Since my wife doesn’t bring any into the house, I go long stretches without eating it. Besides the above-mentioned faltering at Panera, I don’t think I’d had any meat since Christmas Day.
    Oh – and I think we’re fine with seafood. Except that my wife is highly allergic to shellfish.

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