tacos al pastor

It doesn’t get much more all-American than Super Bowl Sunday, but one of the day’s most popular snacks—guacamole—comes from Mexico. According to CNN, last year during Super Bowl week alone, 100,000 tons of Mexican avocados were consumed throughout the U.S.

Across the border, Mexican fans are also tuning in—and chowing down.

American football has been steadily gaining ground over soccer in Mexico since the 1970s, when local stations began broadcasting NFL games. As a secondary market, Mexico is an important part of the NFL’s strategy. The league sponsors 6,500 youth teams across the country, and partners with cable providers to provide access to nine games each weekend. Mexico City plays host to football clinics for current and retired players, the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad tryouts and, for the past two consecutive years, regular season games. The 87,000 seats at Mexico’s Estadio Azteca sold out in minutes for this November’s faceoff between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.

For many Mexican fans, Super Bowl fare is a mix of local dishes and all-American classics. The top five most-ordered items from UberEATS Mexico on Super Bowl Sunday last year were beer, wings, tacos al pastor, french fries, and quesadillas, according to a company spokesperson.

Mexico City natives Augustin Garcia and Beatriz Fragoso, who own a printing business, are members of the Steelers Family Fan Club of Mexico (the team’s biggest fan club outside of Pittsburgh). They usually watch games at Malafama, a bar where the club convenes every Sunday. Outside, a Volkswagen Bug painted with the Steelers logo blasts the team’s theme song. Inside, a sea of black and gold-clad spectators chow down on Mexican food and American bar snacks: steak tacos, pizza, and hot dogs topped with guacamole, all of it generously doused with Valentina hot sauce.

Although their favorite team lost in the divisional round of the playoffs, Augustin and Betty still plan to tune in to watch the Eagles play the Patriots this year. “It’s a family environment,” says Beatriz. “You share time all together, eating and watching, you yell and scream and cry.”

They will likely watch the game with their three daughters at the home of Augustin’s mother or mother-in-law. Their typical fiesta fare is mostly Mexican. The spread always includes a big bowl of salpicón, a mix of beef cooked with onion and garlic, then chopped together with cilantro, Serrano chiles, onion, avocado, and tomato, bound with a glug of olive oil and the liquid from a jar of pickled chiles. The dish is served cold, as a snack with tostadas. They might also serve carne asada and longaniza tacos, refried beans, cheese quesadillas, nachos, and guacamole, all washed down with tons of beer.

salpicon, Mexican beef salad

Salpicon from Milgrageas

For Juan Ulises Hernandez Falcón, a Dallas Cowboys fan who works six days a week as a security guard in Mexico City’s tony Roma Norte neighborhood, the Super Bowl goes hand-in-hand with memories of food shared with family.

He grew up watching games with his father and late mother, who often prepared roasted chicken to be shredded onto tortillas and topped with rajas (strips of roasted poblano chile) and crumbled potato chips.

He looks back fondly on the party he threw in his neighborhood when the Steelers played his beloved Cowboys in 1996. “They were unstoppable,” he says. “I was in the sky when they won.” On that year’s menu: beer, carnitas, barbacoa, and carne tartara, another variation on a cold beef salad that’s similar to beef tartare. Ulises makes his with raw ground beef, shredded lettuce, raw onion, chopped arbol chiles, and lime juice, serving it in a big bowl with Saltines. The meat, he says, does not need to be of any particular quality: “Us guys from the barrio, we just get it from the market.”

He’ll make the same dish this year, served alongside potato chips and chicharrones—the other kind of pigskin—and guacamole, por supuesto.

Header image by Chowhound.

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