Watching The NFL Playoffs With An Eye On Each City’s Signature Cuisine

On February 5, 2006, my wife and I began what will soon be a 13-year tradition of celebrating the Super Bowl by cooking signature dishes that we imagine represent one culinary tradition from each participating city. Back in 2006, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Seattle Seahawks. At the time, we lived in Little Rock, Arkansas and had never even visited Seattle, so we imagined sushi to be somewhat representative of what one might eat regularly and heartedly in our future home. As for Pittsburgh, my wife’s family on her father’s side is of Polish descent and some live in Pennsylvania, so perogies seemed an obvious choice.

The perogies were a smashing success. The sushi, not so much. There’s a reason sushi chefs train for years before they are allowed to even touch any fish. But we enjoyed the process and have endeavored, for the most part, to continue the food-themed Super Bowl celebrations, albeit with some breaks from New England-style Clam Chowder every now and again.

Dishes we’ve prepared over the years have included: Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches (Indianapolis Colts), Deep Dish Pizza (Chicago Bears), Lobster Rolls (New England Patriots), more Perogies in 2009 (Steelers, again), Gumbo (New Orleans Saints), Crab Cakes (Baltimore Ravens), a more informed dish of Wild Salmon (Seahawks win in our first year living in Seattle), Clam Chowder (the Patriots AGAIN), Carolina-style BBQ (Carolina Panthers), and Cheesesteaks (Philadelphia Eagles).

The last two years, we’ve forgone any food from New England and my wife will be rooting hard for the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend.

The Saturday Food Games  

On Saturday, the Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches of Indianapolis travel to the Kansas City BBQ, also known as the Chiefs, while Porterhouse Steaks (Dallas Cowboys) hit the road to Los Angeles to play the Rams. Having recently re-watched Ugly Delicious on Netflix, the food exploration show of Momofuku and Majordomo chef extraordinaire, David Chang, we are leaning toward “assigning” LA tacos as its signature dish; more specifically: Korean-inspired tacos. We will be rooting hungrily for the Chiefs and the Rams.

A little over a year ago, one of the more popular food trucks in Seattle, Wood Shop Food Truck, opened a brick and mortar in the Central District and it is amazing. Matt Davis, one of the owners, almost always sports a Kansas City Royals baseball cap and loves nothing more than to chat about Kansas City sports or the art of making great BBQ, Kansas City style. Davis and his business partner, James Barrington, who hails from a Texas BBQ tradition, import post oak and cook everything low and slow on the behemoth smoker out back of the restaurant. Wood Shop is the BBQ place I recommend in Seattle and my wife and I would gladly forego Super Bowl cooking in our own kitchen and just pick up some ribs and brisket to go.

On the Korean taco front, we may also be willing to outsource the cooking. We live in the neighborhood of West Seattle, which lies across Elliot Bay from downtown. In the Spring and Summer when the weather is nice, a weekend go-to is the patio at Marination Ma Kai.

Marination, like Wood Shop, originally started as a food truck, but it now has three locations. The West Seattle location is right at the Water Taxi dock and greets passengers from downtown with a wonderful fusion of Hawaiian and Korean food. My favorite tacos there are the perfect size, just a few bites, and have a delicious combination of Hawaiian pork and kimchi rolled in a two flour tortillas to absorb the juicy goodness and keep your hands relatively clean. We could just get those to go for the Super Bowl.

The Sunday Food Games

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Chargers (more on them in a minute) travel to the New England Clam Chowder. In the second game, Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Cheesesteaks visit New Orleans and the Gumbo (or the Etouffee, or the Beignet, or any other number of delicious morsels).

As for the first game on Sunday, we love chowder. Duke’s Chowder on Alki Beach is one of our favorite local restaurants. We have made clam chowder. We have made lobster rolls. We are officially sick of the Patriots being in the Super. Give it a rest. Take an early vacation, Tom and Bill. Then there is what to do with LA and the Chargers. Almost two years later, highly paid NFL television and radio analysts STILL refer to them as the San Diego Chargers. We are going to run with San Diego and go with fish tacos.

This is not without its potential pitfalls. You see, my wife prefers the fish in her fish tacos to be lightly battered and fried, whereas I prefer marinated and grilled fish in my taco. I know she’s dying to try anything and everything in her new air fryer, so we’ll probably compromise and just do both.

To me, the late Sunday game presents the only real mixed feelings. I’ve been holding on to several jars of homemade shrimp stock until the Saints either lose or they get to the Super Bowl. I’ve scouted online and I know where I can buy file here in Seattle. I’m stoked to make some authentic gumbo. But, you know, a good Philly cheesesteak is satisfying in a different kind of way. “Wit, wit.” That’s “wit” cheese whiz and “wit” onions. Ultimately though, we’ll be rooting for New Orleans.

The Ultimate Superfood Matchup

Since playoff teams were set, we’ve been eyeing a BBQ versus Gumbo Super Bowl. Recent years have favored number one seeds and that’s the position KC and New Orleans find themselves in this weekend, playing at home for as long as they keep winning. For local fans, even though the Seahawks are out, you can always get fired up about food matchups. Just don’t let it be Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches versus Porterhouse Steak.

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About Brian Hight 112 Articles
Brian Hight lives in Seattle and writes primarily about MLB and the local Seattle Mariners, with a focus on advanced analytics. Occasionally, he delves into the NFL and the NBA, also with an emphasis on advanced statistics. He’s currently pursuing a Certificate in Data Analysis online from Microsoft, where he hopes to create a prediction model for baseball outcomes for his capstone project.