The Grey Cup

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Canada’s answer to the Super Bowl, the Grey Cup is the championship of the two best CFL (Canadian Football League) teams.  But where the Super Bowl always looks like a perfect, professionally-run show, the Grey Cup is smaller and less formal, with a thousand stories to tell. 

Weather is an integral part of the Canadian psyche, so it’s no wonder that the history of Grey Cup games includes all kinds of strange weather occurrences.  The 1962 game between Winnipeg and Hamilton is fondly referred to as the Fog Bowl.  Spectators at Exhibition Stadium had no idea what was happening, because the fog was so thick they couldn’t see the field.  Even more unfortunately, neither could the announcers.  The game was eventually suspended, and the remaining nine minutes played the following day.

Stranger still was the 1950 Mud Bowl, in which players competed on a quagmire of a field at Varsity Stadium.  Even cleats were of little help as a snowfall followed by a thaw turned the field into a swamp.  One injured player nearly asphyxiated lying face down on the field before a referee pulled him to safety.

Lest this game sound like a quaint rivalry between gentlemanly players, let me share the story of two fierce rivals.  Angelo Mosca of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Joe Kapp of the B.C. Lions, had feuded since 1963, due to a controversial hit in that year's Grey Cup game.  Last year they appeared together at a CFL fundraiser, the intention being to bury the hatchet.  But it soon became obvious that the bad blood lingered, as the 74-year old Mosca hit Kapp with his cane, which was followed by Kapp punching Mosca in the jaw.

This year’s Grey Cup returns to Toronto for its 100th anniversary, and the big scandal was whether Marty the horse – Calgary’s unofficial Grey Cup mascot – would be allowed to parade through Toronto’s Royal York hotel.  Although Marty was originally denied entry, the Royal York backed down and allowed him into the lobby, thereby recreating a famous moment from the 1948 pre-game festivities.

I am making up none of this.

Closer to home, Andrew remembers watching the 1971 Grey Cup with his father, the first televised sporting event he ever watched.  Painful memories of Leon McQuay fumbling the ball with less than two minutes left to play precluded him from sharing more details of that game.

CFL players don’t earn much money, and some even take part-time jobs in the off-season.  It’s probably no surprise, then, that it they are some of the most down-to-earth and likable athletes you’ll ever meet.  Andrew’s best friend Ross once saw Pinball Clemens – perhaps the best-loved Toronto Argonaut ever – in a Florida airport.  Ross went over to introduce himself and tell him how much he enjoyed watching him play.  Their conversation continued as Clemens helped Ross carry his luggage off the conveyor and out of the airport.

Later today, we’ll be cheering on the hometown Argos as they vie for the championship against the mighty Calgary Stampeders.  The game may not be as flashy as the Super Bowl.  But it’s as Canadian as hockey, bad weather and butter tarts, and we wouldn’t miss it for anything.

If you’re looking for the ultimate comfort food to enjoy while you’re watching football, you couldn’t do better than old-fashioned, homemade macaroni and cheese.  I’ve made this recipe in individual ramekins (pictured here) and also in a big casserole.  Whether you’re rooting for the Argos or the Stampeders, Green Bay or the Giants, or any team in any sport, nothing will cheer you more than piping hot mac and cheese.

Macaroni and Cheese

2 1/2 to 3 cups raw macaroni
4 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheese (I use aged cheddar)

Additional salt (optional)
Additional shredded cheese (optional)

Cook macaroni as directed on package.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan.  Stir in flour and salt.  Add milk slowly, then cook and stir until sauce thickens.  Add cheese and stir to melt.  Combine with macaroni, and add salt to taste.  Pour into a 2-quart casserole or individual ramekins.  If you like, cover with extra shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly (25 – 30 minutes if cooking in a casserole, 15 minutes if cooking in ramekins).  Enjoy with your favourite fans.


Valerie Gamine said...

I'm not familiar with The Grey Cup, but is certainly has a fun history! (If only I could get into football.) ;)

Macaroni and cheese speaks the language of love. Could you send over a large bowl, please?!

Gloria Baker said...

love macaroni and cheese and these look awesome!

Bonnie said...

I do not know much about Canadian football. A friend's son play for the Alouettes the year they won the championship and for another team as well. He is now working in Florida.

Oh I have been craving mac and cheese, and this looks divine. I will have to wait. I have to take a break from eating rich food for a week or two. I treated myself to far too much food over Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful week. Bonnie

Belinda said...

How fascinating! Thanks for sharing - we're so caught up here with the usual suspects that we don't always pay attention to the sports traditions elsewhere. This is comfort food at its best.

Joanne said...

I've never heard of the grey cup before...but I'm also SO not into football. I AM however into mac and cheese a major way. This looks awesome.

Katerina said...

I am not familiar with any cups to be honest! I am not very sports person either, but these little cups I would definitely enjoy them very much!

Jemi Fraser said...

Pinball Clemens always comes across as such a nice guy. I loved how emotional he got when his hersey was worn on the field!

Every time I see the clip of those 2 guys duking it out I laugh - that's a heck of a feud! :)

Anonymous said...

OMG, I saw that feud last year on Youtube. It was hilarious!

Stina said...

And in the end, my team lost!

Not that I watched the game. We saw the updates on the news. The sportscaster was trying not to cry. lol

Kitchen Riffs said...

The Grey Cup sounds like fun! NFL football has become so corporate, it's not as entertaining as it used to be. Good looking mac 'n cheese. I like the idea of baking it in ramekins. I usually add a bit of Parmesan to my cheddar just to add a bit more sharp bite. Good stuff - thanks.

Food Gal said...

Mac 'n' cheese is perfect for just about any occasion. Seriously, when are cheesy noodles not a good thing? LOL This version looks divine, too.

grace said...

this is a simple and straightforward batch of mac and cheese and it's no less special or decadent than any of the others out there!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, I must say that your Mac and Cheese would have been the perfect food for the whole family while watching the Formula 1. It is wonderful comfort food!

Rita said...

YAY! Toronto finally has a championship! Now we have to see what happens to their mayor. Macaroni and cheese spells comfort at my place.

Beth said...

Ha! It's fair to say that Toronto has never had more happen in a 24-hour period. I can barely keep up with the headlines!

Kathy said...

Beth…Since I know nothing about the Grey cup…I can only comment on the Mac and Cheese! It looks so incredibly cheesy and delicious!! Perfect comfort food for a family dinner!

Anonymous said...

Interesting contrast with football in the U.S. Except for the need to watch with the proper food--that's the same!

Unknown said...

Mac & Cheese, the perfect comfort food to enjoy while watching an important football game;-) I hope the weather is good this year!

Anonymous said...

It was quite a game wasn't it! My husband is from Saskatchewan and a diehard Rider fan...but even he got into the spirit of cheering for the Argos. Between that and the excitment of our mayor being tossed from his seat, it's been quite a week in Toronto. I'd eat your mac & cheese any night of the week. Looks delicious!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

Wow perfect food to accompany a mind grinding game right :D


amy (fearless homemaker) said...

We are biiiig football watchers here, so I'm always looking for football-watching food like this to make. This mac + cheese looks just wonderful!

Danielle's Heartfelt Home said...

Mac and cheese is my favorite comfort food! I must try this recipe! : )

Danielle xo

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