Super Bowl Party Food

by admin on January 13, 2014

I have been a lurker on your site for quite some time and I was hoping you could give me some guidance on food for my first major event! It is an informal affair…a super bowl party! I’m excited to have friends and coworkers over to have a good time but I’m concerned about how accommodating I need to be about food.

I am a meat eater, but I do prefer healthier dishes and am planning on having wings, paella, meatballs, sausage/pepper/onion sandwiches, and dim sum (amazing Chinese market close by). I will certainly be respectful with the amount of hot sauce and spiciness but I live in a metropolitan area with a collection of odd eaters…vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and people who are on crazy diets because of their New Year’s resolutions.

How much do I have to cater to their oddness? Special snowflakes abound here and I do want to be a good host, but it is a super bowl party! Is having a salad station sufficient or should I ask my friends to let me know about their special needs in the invitation? If someone comes back with, “I only eat hot sauce on crackers dipped in $100 champagne because of my new diet,” how do I respectfully ask them to bring their own food? Or did I volunteer to provide that by asking if they have special needs?

Thanks for the guidance!   0109-14

Your menu sounds great!   The only thing I would add to balance out the food choices would be my Texas Caviar recipe.   Even meat lovers like it!   And it can be made a day or two in advance.    As for asking people what their “special needs” are, I personally would not venture there because, as you noted, the potential possibilities of taste and preference can be overwhelming to try to cater to each one.  Most people with food allergies will either ask you what you are serving or bring their own snacks.

Texas Caviar

2 (16-ounce) cans black beans, drained
1 medium jalapeno, minced
¼ small white onion, chopped
1/3 cup Italian dressing
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 tsp. ground red pepper

Combine beans with ingredients. Chill and serve with either corn chips or Carr Water Crackers. Makes 5 cups.  Can be made several days ahead.

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Lerah99 January 14, 2014 at 10:29 am

I have friends that are vegan. Most of them are really chill about it. They just don’t eat any animal products and will happily munch on veggies until they get home if that’s all that is offered.

Then there is my friend Cathy who is both vegan AND a special snowflake about it. She threw a fit at our catered work Holiday Party because the carving station and salad happened to be on the same long buffet table. There was easily 15 feet separating the carving station from the salad, but she refused to eat because her food was “on the same table as a murdered animal”!

Cathy is welcome to feel that way. But throwing a public scene about it makes her a special snowflake when it comes to her veganism. Most vegans, if they felt the same way, would just eat at home later that night.

Also, there is a HUGE difference between allergies and jumping on the latest fad diet bandwagon.
My friend Ann has Celiac disease. Any gluten at all makes her ill for days. So she brings her own dishes to share at parties. Because she won’t risk eating something non-gluten that was prepared in a pan that normally cooks gluten things.

Her girlfriend Beth is a huge drama queen who has decided she is also gluten intolerant – but only when it suits her. At a mutual friend’s 4th of July party Beth accused people of trying to kill her because there were no gluten free hot dog buns. But that did NOT stop her from digging into the fried chicken which is coated in flour chock full of gluten prior to being fried. This makes Beth a special snowflake.

It isn’t the dietary choices that make special snowflakes. It is how these choices are publically expressed.

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Leah January 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

Kristen- to be fair, she didn’t necessarily lump them all in the same category, but I think asking how to cater to an “oddness” and noting that her area contains “odd eaters” is what is rubbing some of us the wrong way (you could argue that it’s not derogatory, but it has those connotations) & making us jump to the conclusion that she’s expecting the “odd” guests to be special snowflakes.

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Harley Granny January 14, 2014 at 11:51 am

I quit trying to accomodate everyone years ago. It just can’t be done. We have evolved to everyone brings a dish…enough to share. We always have a great variety. And there is something for everyone.

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Sliz January 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

“Vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian all have one thing in common: no animal products.”

Erm – you know pescetarians eat fish, right?

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badkitty January 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I don’t see any vegi options on that menu, so definitely make some offering that isn’t flesh… I would also recommend that you check ingredients on things you’re using so you can be aware of some of the larger issues, if only to be able to answer questions when your guests ask. I’ve partaken of a sausage dish at a friend’s house only to discover quickly that beef had been used as a filler. That’s not a “special snowflake” issue (kind of offensive use of the phrase, by the way) so much a medical one. I generally don’t bother to mention my allergy to people because (especially in the midwest) it seems to confuse them (one person actually decided that I was kosher vegan), but there’s usually *something* at a party that I can eat. It’s very frustrating to arrive and discover that I can have only bread, and only if the sandwiches aren’t pre-assembled.

It’s a super bowl party… you’re still putting out chips and dip, right? Throw some veggies next to that. Also, hummus is delicious for everyone, and it’s great on chips, veggies, or even those wings.

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badkitty January 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I see lots of other people do what I’ve done, which is bring something of my own and bring enough to share. I would also suggest to people who do NOT have special dietary requirements moderate their consumption of that special item – have some, by all means, but mention it and don’t take it ALL. I once brought enough vegi-burgers to a barbeque for myself and anyone else who wanted, but there were obviously way more beef patties and hot dogs and the like. I put my stuff in the freezer and made the rounds before worrying about feeding myself, since it was early. By the time I went to get a vegi-burger, they were all gone (No, it wasn’t that long, either) because a couple of people had decided that if those were on offer they’d have them… and then ate them ALL. One of these people didn’t realize that I’d brought them, and mentioned to me that he’d had to eat FIVE of them because they weren’t as “filling” as the beef burgers. Another person told me she heard they were available and asked for two, then decided she didn’t like them and threw them out. I brought more than enough, but not for that sort of behavior, so please nobody be like that!

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FeatherBlade January 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm

The Elf said
“Vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian all have one thing in common: no animal products. ”

Did the meaning of pescetarian change while I wasn’t looking, or are fish not considered animals anymore?

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Mojo January 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Take the plunge and go vegan for a night. I catered New Year for a group of meat-eating/veggie/vegan/dairy-free/gluten-free friends, Christians, Atheists and Muslims alike.

Everything I cooked was vegan and half the dishes were gluten free, except for one HUGE cold meat pie in the corner for the meat eaters! It took a little extra effort and research, but many of the dishes were so tasty, I’d happily prepare them again for the family. This is a great oppurtunity to learn, and to stretch your cooking skills.

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OP_Here January 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm

It seems some were offended by my use of the term special snowflake but I want to clarify that it was in reference to the types of folks mentioned in Lerah99′s post. I don’t judge people based on their allergies or dietary choices, but you are a special snowflake if you throw a tantrum because your preferred style of food is not present. I also feel the label is appropriate for those who chastise others based on their dietary choices simply because they feel their way is “more correct.” If I hadn’t seen the behavior before I wouldn’t have use the term.

Also, I am a he! :) I am going to work more vegetarian options on…I have a veggie chili recipe cooking in the crock pot now. But I will also take a good look at all the ingredient labels and make sure there isn’t anything not vegetarian in there. I will get a nice raw veggie platter as well.

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AIP January 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm

You could just not invite the weirdos with their culinary “oddness”?

Of course if you can’t avoid inviting these awkward ‘spehshul sneauphlaques’ there are plenty of recipes that are vegan-friendly, and not too labour-intensive on recipe websites like All Recipes, Good Food and the Food network. English cook Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall did a whole year of vegetarian food with loads of gorgeous recipes and all of them were being cooked for guests. I have a blog bookmarked called Mamabake which has a page of tasty-sounding vegan food.

With some foods all you have to do is use coconut oil instead of butter or almond/hazelnut milk instead of milk and it’s vegan. (Also nut milks are lovely in porridge, rice pudding and pancakes if you have any left over. Soy milk makes decent bread too, so buying a litre shouldn’t be wasteful). There are a number of vegan blogs too – google is your friend.

I am glad this post saw the posting of the Texas Caviar reopened though. I’m a vegetarian that LOVES tex-mex and this is right up my street :) thanks Admin!

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Kirst January 14, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for two of five dishes to be vegetarian – after all, the omnivores can eat them too. Vegetarians are not particularly rare, and I think it’s somewhat inequitable to provide five hearty meat dishes and a selection of meat sandwiches, and stick the vegetarians with salad.

A friend of mine had hog roast at her birthday party. It never occurred to her or the caterer that there would be people who can’t eat pig, and it never occurred to us that anyone would throw a hog roast and not think “better do a veggie option.” A lot of people went hungry.

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The Elf January 14, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Sliz, my point is that pescetarians can eat foods with no animal products. Vegetarians that eggs and/or milk can eat foods with no animal products. Vegans only eat foods with no animal products. Assuming there are no other limitations, you can cater to all three diets by serving a single dish containing with no animal products. Picture the three diets laid out ala Venn diagram. I’m sorry that I wasn’t more clear.

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AIP January 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Lots have mentioned the salad and crudités, which are grand but for a long day try and get some protein in – hummus as it’s made of chickpeas is great (without yogurt) and it makes a lovely sandwich with sliced/diced tomatoes with a bit of salt & pepper. Or make a couscous type salad with quinoa instead (cooked the same way) which again has great protein.

Story time:
I wound up having to make sandwiches for about 50 odd people – work event – last year. I had spent the previous days during this event having to buy my dinner at midnight because I either didn’t get a chance to eat (or had to give up what I did have ), or there was nothing there for me.

I made sure to up the chance of me actually having one thing by having loads of veggie fillings – hummus and tomato, cheese, my kick-ass egg organic egg-mustard-mayo, as well as the standard ham and sliced chicken. Every single one of those veggie sandwiches disappeared – the only leftovers were the meat. Carnivores talk a good game, but are as happy out when the veggie stuff is available ;)

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denae123 January 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Sounds like you’ve gotten some good advice on how to add some vegetarian/vegan options to your menu. I’ll point out that I’ve enthusiastically adopted vegan dips for my parties. This is because it is far safer to leave vegan dips (contain no meat, eggs, or dairy) out for hours without food safety issues! If you google, there are a ton of recipes. My favorites are a curried carrot dip and a lemon white bean dip.

I do try to have ingredients available for things. I have several friends with varying food allergies and sensitivities. Almost all of them are very happy to be able to easily tell what they can enjoy without having a fit about it.

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Morgana January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

My take on such events is: provide an ingredient label with your dish.

Now it’s their problem.

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Daphne January 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Along with the admin’s bean dish I would provide a large selection of crudite and fresh fruit with maybe a dip or two and that should solve your problem. I’ve never heard of a diet that doesn’t allow celery.

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Angeldrac January 14, 2014 at 6:35 pm

While I do agree that guests “chucking a fit” because their is no appropriate food for them is abominable behaviour, I do believe that it IS my job as a host to make the effort I can to provide food suited to my guests. I am, after all, the host – I put on a party to bring pleasure to my guests. Is which case, OP, I applaud you for your efforts.
It is not up to us to decide whether other people’s diets, be they due to allergy or intolerance (they ARE different) or due to ethical/religious/nutritional beliefs are “weird” or not.
I am currently pregnant, and am following dietary guidelines recommended by my dr, midwife, state and national health departments. These dietary guides are relatively new to the older generation so I have been labeled “fussy”, “paranoid” and “difficult” due to my turning down certain foods.
Your guests are your guests because they are people (friends, even) that you want to have fun with – what is the point of trying having fun with people who you can’t respect and cater for?

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Yankeegal77 January 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

OP, I think your menu sounds amazing! I would add a bowl of hummus and/or guacamole (both are very easy and inexpensive to make) and serve it with pita bread, tortilla chips and/or raw veggies. Most people are willing and able to eat either. And the veggie chili you mentioned in your update can complement guacamole and tortilla chips.

You sound like a GREAT host and I hope your party is successful!

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Erme January 14, 2014 at 8:50 pm

I am vegan & when going to a party, etc. where food will be served, I just assume I probably won’t be able to eat & either bring something to share or eat before or after. I never expect to be catered to.

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Aria January 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I just had to make a comment about your recipe… be VERY VERY careful with the chili powder. The range of potencies is absurd. Right now, my family has chili powder that will tear your face off. I’d put in half a teaspoon of it to start and see where we go from there. :)

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Anonymous January 14, 2014 at 11:46 pm

@O.P.–Thanks for clarifying, but what would be a “tantrum” in your opinion? Loudly making a fuss about the absence of veggie-friendly food? Quietly or cheerfully leaving, because eating before or after isn’t a solution for a Super Bowl event that lasts many hours? Sitting quietly and watching the game without eating, which seems polite, but could be interpreted as “passive-aggressive,” or “sulking,” or “refusing to eat?” I agree with you about “special diet” people who throw fits, but I’ve run into people who believe that a firm refusal to eat meat, even if done politely, counts as “throwing a fit.”

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NostalgicGal January 15, 2014 at 1:45 am

OP did use the sentence “Special Snowflakes abound here” in her posting above. I think that is where SS’s creeped in.

I do not believe that everyone, whether diet restrictions, diet preferences, religious observing, allegens, or ‘would rather die than eat that’ is a special snowflake. How the individual conducts themselves concerning any and all of the above and themselves; determines SS status.

I’m tired of the tirades and tantrums of others when the world doesn’t revolve around them… or the crap I take when (especially when) I’m shopping and have a big pile of my vegan diet in the cart, and get someone gushing because ‘I’m one of them’ then ripping me a new one when I start shopping for my omnivore husband and start putting (GASP!!!!!) meat in the cart.

Anyways, looks like OP has a good start on the process of providing a good and hearty VARIETY of great food for their party. Which will be an all day as Superbowl Sunday is an EVENT and usually does go all day long. I’m glad the Texas Caviar came up again, this time I’m copying that one down.
Thank you Jeanne.

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Snowy January 15, 2014 at 4:53 am

As someone who cannot tolerate hot sauces, please please PLEASE make the wings and things mild, and offer up hot sauce and spicy herbs for those who want to partake, so they can doctor it to their liking. Maybe even have them in a slightly separate area so no one is tempted to dump cayenne over the entire plate of wings.

Nothing sucks like going to a food-inclusive gathering and discovering there’s nothing there you can eat!

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Kirsten January 15, 2014 at 7:33 am

I cook veggie food by Yotam Ottolenghi (www.ottolenghi.co.uk) – his food is gorgeous and quite a lot of it is perfect for entertaining. Most of my vegan food is Indian, big pot of curry on the hob, perfect.

Leah – but that’s exactly it. It is, as you admit, jumping to conclusions. Given this had people saying it was wrong of the OP/rude/I wouldn’t come to your house as a result, I think it’s fair to point that out. He wasn’t rude, people just jumped off because they didn’t like a couple of things he said, and they ran with it.

Also, my name isn’t Kristen. A LOT of people jump to that conclusion!

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penguin tummy January 15, 2014 at 7:35 am

It can be quite impossible to cater for everyone’s diets theses days! I was recently asked to bring a salad or dessert to a party for a couple, one of whom doesn’t eat gluten, dairy or nuts. I wanted to bring something nice but that is a lot of stuff to exclude! I ended up bringing a green salad. It is too hard to predict, just serve a good variety and people can deal with it.

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DanaJ January 15, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Like poster AMC, my partner and I are vegetarian and we never worry about being accommodated. We usually have a snack (or discreetly pack one) before we attend an event. Likewise we have a dear friend who always eats a meaty snack before coming to visit us for dinner, even though he still enjoys group events at vegetarian restaurants.

However, we also live in one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. Chances are very high that there will be guests who keep kosher or halal, or are vegetarian because they follow a Hindu path etc. That’s in addition to the ethical vegetarians or those who simply don’t like meat much. When organizing events we generally ensure that there is at least one vegetarian/vegan option for those who may not be able to eat the types of meats/combinations provided, or are vegetarian. One well-thought-out vegetarian/vegan dish can accommodate a very broad spectrum of dietary restrictions.

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knitwicca January 16, 2014 at 2:04 pm

My guy is vegan. I am not but will be making the Texas Caviar for him. He will LOVE it.

When I have hosted Superbowl parties in the past, the easiest thing I could do was make a big pot of vegan chili with lots of finger foods on the side…chips, raw veggies, a variety of toppings for the chili (cheese, sour cream, jalapenos) and a variety of cookies and/or homemade candy. I sat it all out buffet-style and let people help themselves.

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