Comfort food has taken on new meaning for New Orleans since the debacle in the Dome. Forget chips and dip, this is food with a chip on its shoulder.
With a spectacularly sardonic Super Bowl weekend now shaping up in this town, I’m betting we’ll get a lot more of it.
This food is not so much for emotional eating, not in the usual sense. This is food as an outlet for civic outrage.
We know that New Orleans devotes an inordinate amount of creative energy to its passions, to its celebrations and, yes, to its grudges. So just as food and drink are normally an expression of our culture, they have become an extension of the case this city has been loudly making that the #SaintsWereRobbed.
Overnight, Bywater Bakery changed the message frosted onto its black and gold king cakes from “Go Saints!” to “We Was Robbed!” Haydel’s Bakery, which has been selling goat-shaped cookies in honor of greatest-of-all-time Drew Brees, immediately added the “no ref” cookie, flaming the officials. The bakery has been struggling to meet demand.
At Miel Brewery, a beer that was earlier in the works as an Alvin Kamara tribute, made with the highly unusual ingredient of Airheads candy (Kamara’s favorite), has been brought to market as a symbol of defiance.
“When I tasted it, it finished a little salty, a little sour, so it still felt appropriate,” Miel brewer Alex Peyroux told me with a wry chuckle.
We’re all feeling a little salty these days.
The Saints loss did not just deprive the team of a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. It snatched away from New Orleans the chance to do what this community does best.
We love putting on a party. We take immense pride in doing it right and showing others how we roll.
A Super Bowl appearance, as we know from 2010, is a chance for the spirit of this city to strut on the national stage.
That's one thing those now clucking “get over it” from afar about our continued protests will never understand. For every other factor that went into getting us to the Super Bowl or keeping us from it, that one no call was crucial, obvious and fundamentally unfair.
So where does this leave us now? If the prospect of a Rams-Patriots Super Bowl is a snoozer nationally, around the Who Dat Nation it is a non-starter.
Not content to merely nurse a grudge until next season like a more rational fan base, New Orleans is turning its hard feelings into the very Super Bowl party the game result denied us.
Instead of simply not watching the game, many fans have vowed to party against it, holding boycott parties and replaying the Saints Super Bowl of 2010 (spoiler alert: the good guys win). Plenty of bars and restaurants will accommodate them.
Organized events are taking shape, including the Boycott Bowl on Fulton Street and a mini fest dubbed the Anti-LIE Bowl Party at the Magazine Street Dat Dog. Instead of a Super Bowl party, Clesi’s Seafood in Mid-City has a “super boil” lined up with early-season crawfish.
But wherever Who Dats gather on Sunday to not get over it together, you know there will be food. I know New Orleans will make it delicious and unique to this place, because that is what we do. And for this Super Bowl, I’m counting on it being hilarious, on target and rueful, an edible, photo worthy part of the protest.
Whether it’s simmered, smoked, boiled, fried or raw, let’s make sure that to the “get over it” crowd our Super Bowl food looks like a roast.
This will be a fraught week for Saints fans, and tuning out the Super Bowl on Sunday will not be enough.
Still salty? Us too. But we all need closure. Here are some places you can gather with the Black and Gold and do anything but watch Super Bowl LIIIE.
New Orleans Saints fans avoiding Super Bowl LIII won’t find a trace of football’s main event at a same-day festival that celebrates the team.