Here at Eat at Joe's!, we try to keep the focus on food. But you never know where that'll lead us. For instance, no less an authority than the USDA, in an article on food safety, says Super Bowl Sunday is "the second highest day of food consumption in the United States
It's probably true. I remember once working a cold dark night during a trainee stint at the Northgate Abattoir (I flunked out, BTW). I was walking home to my downtown Durham garret when I noticed something odd. It took me a minute to figure it out, but almost every house had something going on in the living room. The telltale flickering TV light finally led me to understanding. Everyone was watching the Super Bowl. Everyone. I felt witness to a nationwide cultural phenomenon, one where I could have walked up to any random house, knocked, and gotten a quizzical look until I asked, "Sorry to bother y'all, but what's the score?" And that question would have made it all right.
Well, maybe not, but the evening stuck with me. So I shouldn't have been surprised by the Super Bowl food consumption datum, but I was. I've even been to Super Bowl parties where I've been told "oh, we just want to watch the commercials." It's a freaking de facto U.S. holiday, a nationwide equivalent of the ACC men's basketball tournament. But still... 2nd? Maybe 3rd, depending on how you parse the sentence? Bigger than Christmas? WTF?
But... I have a resource. I have my Gentle Readers. Perhaps you can help me puzzle this out. Do you have people over for Super Bowl Sunday? Do you cook a bunch of food? Do you go out? What do you, food-wise?
Inquiring Joes would like to know. ;)
Edit: I've put a poll in the sidebar. It's also going on the polls page.
Thank god the US can stand proud again. I'm sure our nation of fatties (myself included) will continue to excel in the burgeoning "professional eating circuit." What? Yes, the winner of yesterday's Hot Dog Eating Contest made over 60 grand last year for stuffing his pie-hole. Geez, sign me up: I've been training for over 40 years, and I think I'm ready for the challenge. Besides, overeating and the contest -- held on the Fourth of July -- are as American as, well, you know what. Now if we can just get America's Cup back for another 140 years from the, um, landlocked nation of Switzerland (among others), we'll be set. :)
Another Derby Day, and time to recycle a post from 2005. This year's Derby Day is a double holiday, because it's also Cinco de Mayo. Woo-hoo! I've heard it suggested that a good compromise between a mint julep and a Mexican lager would be a mojito; I heartily endorse that, because drinking both mint juleps and, say, a Corona just sounds like a bad idea.
A reminder: The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, 6 May. The race is on NBC between 5 and 6:30 pm EDT. Get your mint now. You'll never have a better time to make a mint julep. Or make some Derby Tea. Enjoy the race. Or read Hunter S. Thompson's description of a Run for the Roses in The Great Shark Hunt. In any case, you better have some Kentucky bourbon around.
Another Derby Day, and the weather is fine. Just the time for a mint julep -- in fact, maybe the only time for a mint julep, ever. What? You don't drink alcohol? Not even on Derby Day? Ok, how about a nice glass of iced tea? Actually, let's have a nicely Southern glass of "ice tea," and let's add some mint. Besides, you'll want something cooling when you're standing out in the sun waiting for post time, and smelling a lot of drunks, horses, and their associated discharges.
Plentiful iced tea is one of the wonderful things about the Southern U.S. The South, pre-A.C., was (and still is) hot and humid. Asking for "tea" in most Southern homes and restaurants will get you a glass of sweetened, iced tea. Iced tea is famously refreshing: someone, either Calvin Trillin or John Egerton, described the invention of iced tea as something like a thunderclap across the Southern consciousness. Mint is not typical in "ice tea," but it makes it taste even cooler and sweeter. And if a little real Kentucky bourbon were to find its way into the preparation -- well, it's almost like being at Churchill Downs. :)
This iced tea is made using the concentrate method, which means less water to heat up, and probably a clearer tea. Feel free to boil a whole gallon of water, or make sun tea, or just follow family or local custom. A variation (Joe's Ice Tea) follows.
4 family size tea bags
1 ½ cups sugar
6 cups water
More water, frozen (also known as ice)
A pot, 2 quart or larger
Spoons, drinking vessels (perhaps chilled?), measuring cups, a stove -- the list is endless. Maybe this is too tough, but if you can't stand the heat, go use someone else's kitchen. Or, with a little luck, a lotta love, and some spunk, maybe you'll muddle through. ;)
Bring the 6 cups water to a boil in the pot.
Remove from heat.
Add tea bags. The tea bags will be easier to take out if you leave the little tags hanging outside the pot.
Rinse mint; add some to pot.
Let stand 10 minutes while tea steeps.
Remove tea bags. Squeeze the bags out if you like, but don't burn yourself.
Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool a bit. Your tea concentrate is now ready.
Find a large vessel, perhaps a nice gallon pitcher if you're lucky.
Put the tea concentrate from step 6 in the pitcher. Did the pitcher melt or break? You didn't cool the concentrate enough, or perhaps you dropped the pitcher. D'oh.
Add some water. Do not run the pitcher over. You may now refrigerate this if you like.
Find your (perhaps chilled) drinking vessel(s). Add some ice, some mint if you want to look fancy, and some tea from your pitcher. Do not run the drinking vessel(s) over. In fact, don't run anything over at any time; if you do, clean it up before your mom gets home.
Hand drinking vessel to your friend. You don't have a friend? Learn to cook better; in the meantime, hold on to the drinking vessel, and add a little bourbon if you like, because you have no friends.
Serve it forth, and enjoy.
Tea is too strong: add a little bourbon. :) Southern iced tea is usually pretty sweet and strong. Add less tea, steep it for less time, don't squeeze the tea bags, add more water or ice, or drink less of it. If your tea has already over-steeped, try sweetening it with light brown sugar instead of plain white: light brown sugar seems to tame over-steeped tea a bit. Dark brown sugar will probably tame it too much.
Tea is too sweet: add a little bourbon. Use other Kentucky or Tennessee sour mash, or other sour mash whiskey, or blended Canadian; if you add Armagnac, people will look at you like you're a poofter. If you add vodka, they will beat you up, and rightfully so, whether you're gay, straight, or bisexual. If you add gin, they will have you committed. :) Again, Southern iced tea is strong and sweet. Add less sugar next time, or add more water or ice. Back off on the mint: it makes the tea taste sweeter. If you left the mint out altogether, add a bit of lemon to balance out the sweetness.
"I have no family size tea bags!": Use about 16 regular tea bags. The use of loose tea is recommended for advanced practitioners, and is beyond the scope of this recipe.
"I have no mint!" Grow some, but be careful, it grows like a weed. Or ask your neighbors, who will probably be happy for you to take some of this pesky weed off their hands. Or use 1 to 4 mint tea (more properly, mint tisane or infusion) bags in place of the fresh mint added before steeping.
Variation: Joe's Ice Tea -- This is a less sweet, less strong iced tea for general consumption. The use of decaffeinated tea makes for a better evening beverage. The lemon flavor makes for a more refreshing drink and balances out the sweetness of the smaller amount of sugar. Instructions have been simplified from the previous recipe, since you are now a tea expert.