Last year friends from church invited us to their annual football kickoff party, a tradition they’ve been building on for years. Down here in the South, one might confuse church with football … I’m pretty sure both involve worship of several forms. When I moved to Atlanta for high school, I saw firsthand just how seriously people take the game. You don’t mess with Gameday! But at least for us non-sporty types, the pageantry and social elements of Gameday are a way to participate. It’s where my creative and competitive juices meet up in a socially acceptable way.
The criteria for attendance at this party was to bring an appetizer to share. Unfortunately, since it was our first time attending, I was completely unaware that this also involved a Best Appetizer contest, with the winner taking home the coveted golden football for the year. Why do I call this as unfortunate? Because competition is like oxygen in my blood after running a big race. It just does something to reinvigorate me, bringing a rush of life to my body. It shakes off the doldrums of the normal and makes that thing special. And when it comes to pleasing people with food, well that’s like a direct shot of adrenaline.
Earlier that morning my SIL sent me a really great pin off Pinterest. Unbeknownst to her, it was the perfect inspiration for the competition. It was the most adorable Bloody Mary kit in a fishing tackle box, what a fun idea! I started searching Bloody Marys and decided I would need more than a tackle box to win this competition. I decided to bust out a full-on portable Gourmet Bloody Mary Bar, complete with my own recipe creations. I concocted all kinds of accoutrement skewers that someone could choose from to grace the top of his or her glass: mini cheese burger skewers, mini chicken nuggets with fries (the “ketchup” was the Bloody Mary, of course), bacon onion crisps and cheese, cajun shrimp, pickles, okra and bacon, pizza skewers, a little Greek flair: stuffed grape leaves and olives, and (never to be left out) the classic celery and olives.
Including the trip to WholeFoods, the prep time on this took a few hours. I mildly freak out when I am late for anything (if I am not a few minutes early then I am late), especially since I had a bit of set up to do at the party. For lack of time, I decided the best approach would be to let people skewer their own, and focus on providing the creative goodies for each person’s individualized choice among a palette of stellar combinations. My creative juices hit full gear and I created a tower of goodness, stacking a cake plate on a platter, with each of those tiers holding disposable cocktail glasses containing the goodies. The only thing I was missing was Michigan logo napkins as decoration, but at least I had a chalkboard sign announcing the point of it all: Bloody “M”arys (giving the block ‘M’ shoutout to the Wolverines).
I crushed it and was ready to 1-2-3-dominate! (a little cheer that is a family tradition heading into “friendly competitions” … another story for another day). I even had time to dress the entire family in our team colors, and then scrounge around for my own costume. I call it a costume because that’s what it feels like to me. I went to Parsons in NYC for school. We did not have football, so the occasional throwing on of my husband’s school colors feel very much like a costume to me and I am playing the part of a sports fan. Honestly, I feel a little silly doing it, but I willingly go along since I covet invitations to costume parties. My life-long bucket list dream is to attend the Met Gala.
Everyone is waiting, ready to go and time is ticking by. We were waiting precisely because the Michigan game was already on at this point, and they are such over achievers they were not only scoring points for themselves, they were scoring points for the other team as well. “Chomp chomp!” the Gator fans were chirping … at the moment.
Much to my chagrin, we rolled up to the party an entire hour after the start time and well after most of the attendees had cast their votes in the competition. We got a few cheers for the late entry and many oohs and ahhhs for the tower of culinary goodness. Alas, I did not win the golden football for the second year in a row. I would also like to congratulate the winner, great idea: barbeque parfaits! A whole balanced meal in a cup.
I enjoy giving myself a performance review after any competition and this is my conclusion: It’s not really a good idea to enter a party late with something savory after their bellies are full and craving a sweet ending. Not to mention Bloody Marys may have been more of a fan favorite if the party was earlier in the day and people had not already been settled in with their beer or spiked sweet tea.
Overall I blame my husband! It was his fault. Although after almost 17 years of marriage, I get it and there is give and take. I am not going to selfishly stomp around and pitch a fit, scare the children to death and make everyone miserable just because we did not make it on time to be legitimate contenders. Honestly I just go to wear the cute costume anyway. And there is always next year, that is if we get an invite back based on our late arrival and entry. In protest I will NOT be singing hail to the victors this year. J