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It's Tailgatin' Time!

By: Angela Gillaspie Copyright © October 2000

We are waist-deep in fall, and most of us are participating in, watching, or cheering on some kind of team. Usually a snack or picnic is prepared to fortify us for the manic raving we must do for our team. I was curious how others tailgate so I decided to conduct an informal poll of friends from all around America and ask them to tell me their favorite tailgating memories and recipes.

The responses I received fell into three categories: (a) the "What's-a-Tailgate-Party?" folks, (b) the "Cold-Cut-Crew", and (c) the "Gotta-Grill-Gonna-Chill" folks.

The first category, the "What's-A-Tailgate-Party?" folks think that this is the elation you feel when the jerk that was following too closely either turns off or finally passes you, and you celebrate by treating yourself to some fast food.

Food Safety Tips.
Some foods require a bit more attention than others.
  • Single serving or pre-packaged portions to minimize the number of people who come in contact with the food. Use baggies or plastic wrap to store the food.
  • Processed foods such as lunch meats and hotdogs spoil quickly, so use caution with them.
  • Watch the temperature of casseroles, especially those that contain egg, milk products, or meat in them because they tend to spoil quickly.
  • Buy reasonable quantities.
  • Cooking. Ground meat is done when it is brown or gray inside. Poultry is ready when the juices run clear, and fully cooked fish flakes with a fork. Sausages take patience, so cook them at least 25 minutes or so.
  • Deana from Oregon said, "Tailgating really makes me mad! Especially when I'm looking for a turn off, and someone pulls up behind me and rides my bumper." She continued, "As far as food goes, I really try not to eat when I'm being tailgated -- I get indigestion -- but after I lose the tailgater, I like pork rinds and Pepsi to take the edge off my anger."

    This really isn't the type of tailgating that I was referring to, and if you fit into this category then I urge you to read on and learn how tailgating partying is a ritual of food, fan fellowship, and fun.

    The second category, the "Cold-Cut-Crew" folks prepare for a game as if they were attending a casual party. They pack ready-made sandwiches, potato salad, cookies, cold fried chicken, chips, and lots of sodas. They show up about an hour or so before the game, spread a blanket over the hood of the Chevy and dole out the sandwiches, relishes, and drinks.

    The last category, the "Gotta-Grill-Gonna-Chill" people start planning for the game a week in advance. They bring different meats (kielbasa, steak, chicken), marinades, casseroles, pies, cakes, possibly a keg or two (if allowed), and several different soft drinks and mixers. They arrive at the stadium a good four to eight hours ahead of time to set out their portable grill, Tupperware®, lawn chairs, tables, and hors d'oeuvres. Next, they prepare their meals with the skill and flair of Emeril Lagasse. It's been rumored that folks from this category caused Auburn's old wooden intramural basketball arena, "The Barn", to burn down during the 1996 Auburn-LSU game (which Auburn lost 15-19).

    Regardless of your category, the following tips should help you in your tailgating quest.

    First off, you need to be prepared. These tips will help you prepare food and equipment for tailgating.

    What should you serve?
    When planning your meal, keep in mind what utensils you'll need. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Keep the time and location of the game in mind. For example, breakfast burritos would be great for an early game. If the game is several hours away, you may want to do like the "Cold-Cut-Crew" does and bring prepared foods.
  • Your team's opponent can influence what you should bring for tailgating. For example, when playing the Razorbacks, you may want to eat pork barbecue, or when playing the Dawgs, hotdogs are perfect! One warning, if your team loses, you may have to eat crow so be prepared.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, trail mix, dried foods, cookies, crackers, those that are high in sugar, and canned products (meat spreads, for example) are great for tailgating because they don't need refrigeration.
  • Sausages with fried onions and peppers are a favorite and have been known to attract many hungry people to your tailgate.
  • Kabobs are great because you can prepare them the night before and on game day, you just pop them on the grill.
  • If you're in a pinch, you can always pick up fried chicken, barbecue, or deli sandwiches.
  • For some of my favorite tailgating recipes, click over to https://www.southernangel.com/food/tgatercp.html .
  • When the party is over, you may have leftovers. The following tips are great for handling leftovers.

    I haven't covered what you should display, wear, shout, or sing while tailgating, so I'll leave that up to you. Body paint, team flags, and neon lighting are all acceptable. (Of course if the game is youth flag football, the other parents might get a wee bit annoyed with you, so use your own discretion.)

    Now get out there and tailgate! If you ain't tailgating before a game, you are missing out on a big time!

    For more tailgating tips and fun, visit these sites: