March Madness Munchies

I am not the world’s biggest sports fan.  In fact, I am so far from it, that when my husband first asked me to join his bracket when we were first dating, I had no idea what he was talking about.  Bracket?  I thought those were pieces of hardware used in building furniture.  But because I was so deeply in love, I agreed.
There in front of me was a complicated network of colleges, some of which I had never heard of.  So knowing nothing about collegiate athletics and basketball in general, I asked him who I was supposed to choose and why these teams were lined up the way they were.  I quickly learned that I would never quite understand “seeding” in March unless it meant actual pea seeds into the slowly thawing soil in my backyard. 
So I did what any decent person would do.
I guessed.
But being a person who must have some theory on which to base my decisions, I looked at the list of colleges that sat before me.  I mentally placed them on giant map of the United States, from way down in Florida to the northeast, and everywhere else across this great big, diverse country.
And I got hungry.
Because when it comes to thinking about the diversity of places spread across the US, I think of two things: the terrain of the National Parks, and food.  And because large universities don’t normally appear in rural mountainous areas, my brain turns to the cuisines.
I once ate boiled peanuts in Florida after hearing how delicious they were.  I didn’t like them.  Therefore, Florida never wins.
Whenever I see the name “Buffalo” I think first of the animal, but then to the tangy zip of chicken wings.  My mouth begins to water, and Buffalo advances.
I once ate an amazing meal served with homemade tortillas in New Mexico.  On they go.
Utah has not provided my tastebuds with anything spectacular, and sadly, someone has to lose.
I will choose the cherries of northern Michigan over the cornfields of Iowa, and being a good Ohio gal, I can’t help but go with my home state at least for the first round, even if I don’t care for the peanut butter chocolate delicacies that fuels so many of us.
The most complicated of the picks, however, goes to any state that is famous for barbeque.  Not that I’m a barbeque snob, but when given the option of comparing the spice of a Carolina sauce to a sweet one from Tennessee slathered all over a steaming pile of pork, I always go with Carolina. 
My husband and his brothers put together a family bracket every year.  While they are discussing seeds, I’m planting them outside and dreaming about a vinegar-based mustard sauce.
I have yet to come in last place.

Originally written/published 3/15/15


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