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Nation & World

Super Bowl Food Fight: Indy Vs. Big Easy

Donald Link owns the restaurants Herbsaint and Cochon in New Orleans.
Donald Link owns the restaurants Herbsaint and Cochon in New Orleans.

Football fans are looking forward to this Sunday's Super Bowl — and a day full of good food. But the menu doesn't have to be limited to pizza and nachos. We asked two chefs from the Colts' and Saints' hometowns about what they'd be cooking this weekend.

From New Orleans, Donald Link is chef and owner of the restaurants Herbsaint and Cochon. His Super Bowl party continues a tradition he inherited from his parents.

This year, the party will include sausage and salami from Link's butcher shop. But those are just for snacking, he told NPR's Linda Wertheimer. "The main dish that I always cook is the seafood gumbo," Link said — like the one featured in his cookbook, Real Cajun.

Link's party will be at his home, which he repaired after Hurricane Katrina. In those renovations, he said, he made sure to include clear sightlines from the kitchen to the TV.

"We actually stood where the stove was going to go and lined it up to where the TV would be, just to make sure that we had the broadest view of the TV," he said.

Regina Mehallick is chef and owner of R Bistro in Indianapolis.
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Regina Mehallick is chef and owner of R Bistro in Indianapolis.

And from Indianapolis, Regina Mehallick is chef and owner of R Bistro. Her restaurant is decked out for the big game, she said, complete with blue flowers and cadet-blue napkins to match the Colts' uniforms.

Mehallick, author of Regina's Seasonal Table, also emphasizes locally grown produce and meats.

"We should definitely have blue popcorn," Mehallick said, "because corn is popular here in Indiana."

Her main dish will reflect another local favorite: a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. The R Bistro version will be crusted in panko flakes. And since Indiana is a large producer of duck meat, Mehallick is considering serving duck wings — "done the classic way that chicken wings would be done," she said.

Both cities have been abuzz for nearly two weeks, as fans dream of an NFL title.

But Link says his Saints party will be a bit tamer than past versions — partly because he wants to be sure to have time to sit down and watch the game.

"I'm getting kind of chills, just about to say it," he said. "But with Mardi Gras this weekend and the Saints in the Super Bowl — I mean, this is a fantastic time to be here."

In Indianapolis, the lingering effects of the economic recession aren't putting a damper on the excitement, either.

The city has been a scene for pep rallies and parties — and people dressed in all blue and white, Mehallick said. She admitted to wearing a Colts jersey as she spoke to NPR.

"This is a big sports city," she said. "This is just a happy time, it's bringing people together. Lots of people on the street are saying hello — and go Colts."

The interview ended on a civil note — up to a point.

"Donald, good luck — but I hope we win," Mehallick said.

"Who dat?" Link replied.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.