Supper Bowl Sunday

At first, the density of people at the grocery store seemed fairly normal. Those of us cursed with a "brief" attention span struggle a bit with simply making sure we get what we came for, so the quantity - high or low - didn't seem out of place; dense without being crowded. And then I began to notice a trend - a preponderance of chips (potato and/or corn), guacamole in plastic containers, and guys wandering around in football jerseys that they clearly didn't wear for work, 12-packs of Budweiser in hand hovering over the meat counter. What in the hell was going on?

Ah. Superbowl Sunday. Save for the fact that it falls on a Sunday (much to the detriment of productivity the following day), it's basically a national holiday. Friends gather 'round the warm glow of an enormous television (purchased primarily for this day) and celebrate the athletic prowess of total strangers while screaming criticisms at the players that will never hear them.

Normal people bet on which team will win, often going so far as to estimate the margin. In my case, they bet on whether or not I have any clue who's playing and whether I know when it is.

Probably clear by now, I'm not a sports fan. I chose to cook.

Keeping with my New Year's resolution, I followed a recipe. Rather than have my food magazines simply accumulate, skimmed for inspiration on topics near and dear, I glanced down at the most recent issue of Gourmet magazine on my kitchen counter and spotted biscuits on the cover. I froze in my tracks. THIS was what I wanted fo make.

I tore open the plastic, flipped through to the recipes letting the subscription cards (or "blow-away" cards, as they are called in the magazine world) fall to the floor, defiant about picking them up. I flattened the page against the spine, made note of the ingredients, and ventured out to the supermarket.

I can't lie, there's something about biscuits. Perhaps my southern roots showing (Dad's parents were from Oklahoma), or perhaps hearkening back to my mom's almost daily breakfast for me; Bisquick "drop" biscuits. Biscuits from a box topped with margarine... humble roots indeed. My mother, having never pondered exercise of any kind and with frighteningly-poor dietary tendencies (the details I refuse to even discuss publicly), would unabashedly order "biscuits and gravy" at Denny's when (and whenever) her urge kicked in. While her diet scares the hell out of me, her boldness to ask for (or go get) what she wanted is endearing. Biscuits, obviously, take me back.

There are other kinds of biscuits; the kind in the tube with the dough boy on the outside. Prep is pretty straightforward, one turns on the oven, unwraps the outer layer of paper on the tube, and smacks it smartly against the counter. Took me decades to realize the popping sound due to what they used instead of yeast or baking powder; CO2 is pumped into the can and the whole batch of biscuits is "carbonated" to allow them to rise while baking. Food soda. If Ferran Adria had thought of it, we'd consider it brilliant.

In my case, I went big and used an ingredient that strikes fear in my heart (because my heart is an integral part of my bloodstream) - lard. There's no denying it; if you want to make real biscuits or a real pie crust, this is your ingredient. There is something just so wrong to me about cooking with a half-cup of lard (wrong as in health considerations, the benefits flavor-wise are abundantly clear) though it was diluted, suspiciously, in 5-cups of flour. Since baking is an activity I tend to stay clear of, I'm not at liberty to speculate about that ratio being correct, but it seemed a bit low.

The results were... disappointing. Instinct told me the ratio of flour-to-fat was too high, but I've been wrong before. When the game was over, I was a slightly better baker. I can't say that any of my friends were better football players.


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