Food writers suggest ideal cuisine for Bears, Colts fans

By GEORGE PIPER
The Lebanon Reporter

February 2, 2007, 12:27 PM CST

LEBANON, Ind. — Indiana tenderloins traditionally lead the league in meat-per-bun coverage. But can the Hoosier favorite stand up to a brat or hot dog with Chicago-style fixings?

When it comes to the Super Bowl — and especially a Colts-Bears matchup — culinary considerations take on greater importance. Whether the venue
is a stadium parking lot or cozy living room, the right kind of palette-pleasing edibles can be cause for celebration.

Chicago’s Laura Oppenheimer, a food writer and restaurant reviewer for the Web site Chicagoist.com, and Scott Hutcheson of Lebanon, Ind., whose
food-related credentials include Indianapolis Monthly magazine and Indiana Public Television, dished out some favorites that Chicago and Indianapolis fans
might enjoy.

Real Bears fans grill outside — no matter the temperature — with traditional favorites brats and hot dogs, Oppenheimer says. The Chicago touch comes in what goes on the meat: mustard, onions, tomatoes, sweet relish, pickle spears and sport pepper (no ketchup). A hearty meal, backed up by brass comments.

“We don’t want to eat Subway sandwich platters or drink white wine,” she says. “There is nothing wimpy about being a Bears fan, which is why these meaty, filling dishes work so well at a Super Bowl party for Chicago fans.”

If the grill is sidelined until summer, Oppenheimer says no Chicago fan can pass up pizza. Or visit the deli for some corned beef to whip up some Reuben sandwiches.

For true Indiana flavor, the breaded pork tenderloin and a State Fair-style ribeye sandwich are recommendations from Hutcheson, who has suggestions on his Web site, The Hungry Hoosier (www.hungryhoosier.com).

“The great thing about tenderloins and ribeyes is that they don’t take much culinary prowess,” he said. “Heat some oil for the tenderloins and fire up the grill for the thin-cut ribeyes and you are in business.”

If the party needs dessert, Oppenheimer knows of some Bears-themed offerings from Eli’s cheesecake featuring ingenious uses of oranges
and blueberries.
No Hoosier can pass up sugar cream pie, says Hutcheson, or thawing some frozen sweet corn for corn fritters.

Chicagoans also like their beer, whether its the classic Old Style or the Chicago-brewed Goose Island brand (try the 312 or Honkers Ale, Oppenheimer says).

“If football is a truly American sport, then what could be more American than sitting back with a Chicago-style hot dog and drinking an ice-cold beer?” she says.

One common bond may be chili. Both writers suggest it, although Oppenheimer suggests Chicago Bears nachos: blue corn chips with melted cheddar cheese on top.

Regardless of your team allegiance, football and food make a good pair.

“The football tailgating tradition has really married food with football,” Hutcheson says.

During the fall and winter seasons, Hutcheson says people tend to indulge more — after all, swimsuit season is still several months away. The tailgating tradition is evident with other sports, but it’s linked closer to football than another other event.

The game’s tension, violence and overall length are a combination that lends itself to having food at hand, adds Oppenheimer. “Football and food
are like peanut butter and jelly — they are soulmates,” she says.

But what about the food etiquette for an all-animals Super Bowl?

Hutcheson says Super Foods grocery store in LaCross, Ind., specializes in wild game — and bear is on the menu. “Maybe we should feed the Colts’ defense some bear steaks before the game,” he suggests.

While horse meat is legal to serve in Illinois, Oppenheimer believes eating the opponent’s mascot sets a bad precedent. “What if the Patriots … were in the Super Bowl?” she notes. “Cannibalism is certainly not in the spirit of the Super Bowl.”

Now that we’re all hungry, what about the game? Oppenheimer, of course, predicts a 30-28 Bears victory; Hutcheson favors the Colts 27-24.

Anyone ready for seconds?