This coming Sunday, when some of you are watching the Patriots battle it out for the national football championship, you’ll be joining millions of other Americans in what has truly become a national holiday, complete with its own menu nearly as traditional as Thanksgiving.

You can tell the Super Bowl is coming by the plethora of aisle-end displays of chips, beer, guacamole kits and heaps of avocados in the grocery stores. Newspaper food writers — alas, like me — feel compelled to come up with yummies to consume during the game.

Oddly, too, it is a male cooking event featuring competition to see who can raise blisters on their pal’s tongues with twenty-seven alarm chili or demonstrate prowess with grilled ribs.

An island neighbor bumped into me once at the store before Super Bowl weekend, and immediately apologized for the greasy contents of her shopping cart; she explained that she was buying for her hubby, who planned to cook for his game-watching cronies.

Last week, I visited a fish market in Portland which provided a handout featuring mussel recipes for game snacks. I thought, hmm, mussels or Buffalo wings? I dunno, somehow I doubt the shellfish will get much traction on the snack table. Maybe the bean dips that follow will seem too tame and wholesome, too.

A couple of Sundays ago when the Pats faced Denver in the divisional playoffs for the Super Bowl, Toby and I watched the game with island neighbors Kathy and Mike Kerr. I watched Kathy assemble a deliciously garlicky white bean dip that joined a few good cheeses to keep our bodies and souls together until a half-time supper. It smelled wonderful, and went together so easily that I thought you readers would take to it. Garlic, lemon peel, rosemary, olive oil, and a can of white beans.

It reminded me of a black bean dip I made years ago, similarly easy to make with a can of black beans, olive oil, cumin and red pepper. That’s it. Low in fat, high in fiber and packed with protein. Both are infinitely adjustable to taste.

White bean dip is good on crackers — multigrains or buttery rounds. The black dip is good on corn chips or pita chips. In case you feel like being very sensible in your snacking, either is good with celery or carrots sticks, sliced white turnip or red and green pepper scoops, or blanched broccoli or cauliflower.

Sometimes canned beans are a bit salty. Consider draining them before adding them to the other ingredients; then use fresh water for any added liquid you need.

So I am hopeful that the Patriots will come through for us, but even if they don’t, the food will be good.

White Bean Dip

Makes about 2 cups of dip

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 15-ounce can, or 2 scant cups, cannellini beans

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped or ½ teaspoon dried, crushed

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and saute the garlic for about a minute, then add the beams and cook them for a couple of minutes. Mash the beans with the back of the spoon and add the rest of the oil plus lemon juice and peel and rosemary. Mix well and serve or store for use later.

Black Bean Dip

Makes about 2 cups of dip

1 15-ounce can, or 2 scant cups black beans, drained

Olive oil

2 teaspoons of ground cumin or more to taste

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Toasted cumin seeds for garnish

Cilantro chopped for garnish

Put the drained beans in a food processor and puree. Add olive oil until a smooth paste forms, then add the cumin and red pepper and process to blend. Sample and add more spice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with toasted cumin seeds and-or cilantro sprinkled on top.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. Email: For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...