Well, Super Bowl Sunday is coming up. Usually I have to ask who’s playing before the game so as not to embarrass myself, but this year the quarterback for Green Bay is from Chico, which is a short hop on the map from where we live, so I’m at least aware of one of the teams. Baby steps, baby steps.
It’s not that I’m opposed to sports. My son was involved in every sport imaginable growing up, and I hardly missed a game. Also, I was married to a man who would have watched competitive knitting with a bowl of microwave popcorn and a six-pack if it showed up on the sports channel. He was a USC alumnus, and the proud owner of Dodger season tickets, so I’ve done my time in the bleachers. I’ve sat on bun warmers in the freezing cold next to grown men with giant rubber hands and painted faces, and waited two hours to use the restroom for the love of the sport.
In my early twenties I was living in Massachusetts. We had friends whose parents owned a local restaurant and pub, that we frequented from time to time. Anticipating that they were going to be slammed with customers on Super Bowl Sunday they asked my girlfriend if she could recruit some willing extra hands to serve drinks in the bar. At first I totally declined. I have a quirky memory. I can recall the number of freckles on the end of my nose when I was three but not where I laid down the car keys five minutes ago. Also, coordination is most definitely not my strong suit. I did not feel either of these traits were excellent qualifications for taking drink orders from a mob of enthusiastic sports fans. On top of this, my drinking history up until that time was limited to an occasional margarita at friends and a glass or two of champagne on New Year’s Eve. It seemed that the owners, being desperate, had lowered their standards considerably and the fact that I had two legs, two arms, wasn’t visually impaired and would work for minimum wage, moved me right up to the top of the list.
I was issued a green bar apron, given a half hour’s worth of sketchy instructions, and told to show up early on Sunday. Whoopee. The bar area was quite large, and, as well as a long bar area with stools, was jam-packed with tables and chairs especially for the occasion. My husband came with me for moral support, and naturally might accidentally catch the game and enjoy a beer or two while in his supporting role. Right.
Patrons began arriving early as expected, and soon the bar was standing room only. The noise level rivalled a jet pulling up at a loading gate, and the testosterone level was so thick I had to wax my upper lip when I got home. In no time drink orders were being thrown at me in huge numbers. Fortunately, I took shorthand so managed to at least call them out to the harried bartenders with some accuracy. It was wild.
In the beginning I was covering my tables pretty well, but when it came to another round being ordered, and me not remembering the first one, things got a little looser on the side of accuracy. I discovered, however, that after a few rounds, and with the game going in the right direction, nobody seemed to notice if there was an umbrella and a piece of pineapple in their martini and the tips were flowing in. By the end of the day, I had gained deep respect for the servers who perform these duties every day, and established that despite my splendid qualifications I would not seek out employment in this area in the future.
So, we’re on for Sunday at friends. The usual football shaped summer sausage and artery clogging chili cheese dips will be served I’m sure. I’m contributing stuffed mushrooms and koftas. Should be fun. Hope I remember who’s playing.
Lamb Koftas with Yogurt Sauce
1 lb. lamb mince (ask butcher to grind for you)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. finely chopped red chilli
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh coriander, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
In mixing bowl combine lamb, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, chilli, tomato paste and fresh coriander. Mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper and form into small meatballs.
Heat small amount of oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook in batches until evenly browned and thoroughly cooked. Drain on paper towels. Refrigerate if not going to serve immediately. Skewer each meatball with cocktail stick and serve warmed with yogurt dip. (Warm in 350 degree oven for 5-10 mins. if needed.)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 medium English cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp. dill
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together in mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.