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Super Bowl Eating: Half-time Black Eyed Peas

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black-eyed peas. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend
Texas Caviar, a.k.a. Black-Eyed Peas Salad. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend

Big men. Shiny pants. Bendthrowrunjumponeachotherfalldown. Repeat.

For 4 hours. Plus commercials.

Yes, skill is involved, strategy, stamina, hometown loyalty, all that. My 70-something-year-old mother adores football. So does her older sister, my aunt. In Minnesota, my nieces will be wearing green and yellow, waving Packers pom-poms in honor of their Wisconsin-born, cheesehead-wearing dad, who put his firstborn down for Packers seats as soon as the birth certificate was signed. The lesbian poets and gay novelists among my acquaintance are rooting for the Steelers and planning chili cook-offs.

Well, then, football: Americans like it. But why the rigidity of Super Bowl-appropriate menus? Why the endless wrap-around-the-earth parade of chips, chips, guacamole, hoagies, chili, take-out pizza, and clumpy nachos glued down by spray-on cheese-in-a-can?


Even the Prius drivers at Berkeley Bowl got a special guacamole display by the entrance this week--a DIY display, naturally, stacked high with fresh avocados, tomatoes, jalapenos, and organic corn chips, plus a recipe.

For avocado growers, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest holiday of the year. We'll eat some 50 million pounds of our Vitamin-E-loaded little green friends today. But we'll also load up on a breathtaking pile of junk.

Not that it has to be that way. Even the Panda is laying off the chips and swinging for the veggies instead. Why not you? As photographer-writer-marathon-runner (and Steelers fan) Sara Seinberg suggests, "A huge salad with all kinds of citrus is also great since the citrus is off the hook right now. Cucumbers, blood oranges, pomelo, cara caras with some super thinly sliced dino kale and a champagne vinaigrette to soften up the kale. Even Super Bowl people can like a salad."

(OK, to be honest, she also suggested, "for the boozers in the house: mac-and-cheese. A classic. A heavy starch. A crowd pleaser. A timeless delight with incredible variations abounding. The muscle car of the menu. The Super Bowl's '68 Camero" as well as "some kind of exciting popcorn, like chile and lime.")

So, yeah, salad. If you haven't already gotten your order of bratwurst and beer salami, or your six-pack of Iron City brew, you could think about noshing a little further afield. To Texas, for example, Dallas to be exact.

Go down home with Texas caviar, the southwest's gussied-up term for a tart, tangy salad of black-eyed peas. Yes, just like those Black Eyed Peas, this year's designated half-time entertainment.

If you loaded up on black-eyed peas for a lucky New Year's hoppin' john, then went out for dim sum instead, now's your second chance at a little cheap luck. And may the best team win!

Texas Caviar, a.k.a. Black-Eyed Peas Salad
This recipe was inspired by Field Caviar: A Southern Pea Salad for Dipping in the snacky chapter "Boiled Peanuts, Grazes, and Hors d'Oeuvres" of The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.

Makes: about 2 1/2 cups

4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 lb black-eyed peas, soaked in cold water to cover for 4 hours or overnight
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp avocado oil
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 small red onion, peeled and minced
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Meyer lemon
1 avocado, optional

1. Bring water to a boil. Add peas, and let simmer over medium-low heat until tender. This varies widely with the age of the beans, but should take anywhere from 35 to 60 minutes.

2. Once peas are tender, drain, rinse, and let cool.

3. In a serving bowl, whisk lime juice, vinegar, oils, salt, sugar, mustard, and pepper together. Add peas and toss.

4. Chop the parsley leaves roughly. Slice the ends off the Meyer lemon, and chop the entire thing into little bits, peel, pulp, and all. Stir up the peas again, and mix in onion, parsley, and lemon.

5. Taste for seasoning. Serve now or refrigerate for later, tossing when you think of it, just to keep everything moist and evenly mixed.

6. Just before serving, add the avocado, peeled and diced.

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