Parade Magazine’s new chef serves up a Superbowl party feast that’s more than 1,300 calories before the beer.

Parade Magazine’s new chef, Bobby Flay, from the Food Channel, is thin and buff, very photogenic. 

He must not be eating the Superbowl party menu he is proposing in last Sunday’s Parade, which as a Sunday magazine supplement is delivered to more people than any other publication in the United States.

In Bobby’s first monthly article as Parade’s new food columnist, Bobby cooks up three Latin-inspired party treats:

  • Cuban sandwich crostini, which is pork, ham, cheese, pickles and mayo on a baguette.  260 calories each, but it’s a baguette, so you know most people will have two.  That’s 520 calories.
  • Adobo-seasoned baked chicken wings, which are wings, dipped in honey, mango nectar and various spices.  340 calories a serving (5 wings). 
  • Hot cumin-scented potato chips with blue cheese sauce, which are potato chips you buy in a package tricked out with cumin and then dipped into a sauce of blue cheese, butter and milk.  An arbitrary 480 calories, since Flay does not tell us how many calories are in the average dipped chip.

It’s easy to see that Flay’s Superbowl party is a nutritional atom bomb.  If you have two crostini, we’re talking 1,340 calories before the beer.  That leaves the average person about 600 calories for the rest of the day to lose two pounds a week; from 900-1,100 calories left to eat if the average person wants to maintain her/his weight.  Add in two beers and you know you’re blowing your diet that day.

Not only does Flay’s Superbowl feast load up on the calories, but it breaks just about every consensus rule of good eating:

  • Eat more vegetables:  The only vegetables are pickles and herbs.  He actually avoids the chance to add vegetables by proposing a cheese-butter dip instead of a vegetable-based salsa.
  • Eat more whole grains:  There are no whole grains in Bobby’s spread, but plenty of processed ones.
  • Eat less meat and cheese:  Flay goes out of his way to load us up with fat and protein.  One dish has two kinds of pork plus cheese.  The chicken wings have skins on.  And then there’s that dip!
  • Use scratch ingredients and not processed foods:  Where do we start?  The potato chips.  The pickles.  The mango nectar and mayonnaise, which I assume most won’t be making from scratch.  The onion powder!!  Bobby, at least let us peal and grate an onion!

Here’s why I take such a petulantly sarcastic tone with this party spread:  Parade Magazine presents itself as the family and consumer’s best friend.  There’s a “Stay healthy” column and the publication frequently gets behind national causes, including fitness.  The “Intelligence Report” typically presents issues such as capital punishment and environmental change or gives news-you-can-use consumer advice and information.  Virtually all issues of the pub feature an uplifting story of a celebrity who has learned a lifetime lesson that would help all of us to put to use.

One would thus hope that Parade would charge its new cooking columnist with helping address the most pressing health challenge we face as a nation: the inordinately high number of people who are obese or overweight, and therefore more prone to heart diseases, diabetes and some kinds of cancer.  One would thus hope that Parade’s chef would present a Superbowl party that was delicious, nutritionally balanced with lots of veggies and fruit, and low in calories.

Flay says that because the Superbowl is in Miami, the center of Cuban cuisine in the country, he decided to “create some festive Latin finger foods.”  First let’s note that he should have said “Latin-themed” foods (and I carefully selected the phrase “Latin-theme” which its theme park implications, as opposed to “Latin-styled”).

Something I learned from being a public relations consultant to a major regional supermarket company for 19 years is that supermarkets sell more Mexican and Mexican-styled food products in January than in any other month of the year and that the growth in the sales of Mexican food has been remarkable over the past two decades.  There is therefore a lot of advertising and special sales in supermarkets of Mexican food products during the week before the Superbowl.  It seems as if for some reason, Mexican cuisine, or Latin or Hispanic if you prefer, has become associated with Superbowl parties.   It would be interesting to learn why.  Did it start from an ad campaign that worked and so was repeated?  Was it some kind of social virus spreading at the grassroots, as people sampled nachos and tortillas at one Superbowl party, liked it and then served it at their own?

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