Yay! Football season started! Well, let me rephrase that. Yay! Pre-season football started! My team won their first game last night and I couldn’t be happier. With all the back-and-forth nonsense earlier in the year with the NFL lockout, I was almost afraid there wasn’t going to be a season at all.
There really was no guarantee that we were going to see any live NFL football for a while. The NFL Players Association and the NFL owners had a long way to go to find common ground. Basically, as I understood it, the players want more money while the owners wanted to spend less. And then there was the proposal of an 18-game regular season, eliminating two games in the preseason. It was all very confusing for me. But my big worry was, what would we do with our Sunday and Monday nights? I cannot imagine a life without donning my jersey and cheering at the TV for my favorite team while trash talking the opponent (all in good fun of course). I don’t want to imagine a life without that.
Well, the point is we won’t have to imagine an NFL-less year and this calls for celebration. What better way to celebrate the glory of football than with a tailgate?
As many football fans will tell you, and as I have come to understand it, the pregame tailgating experience — cooking and dining al fresco in your favorite team’s arena parking lot —is an experience to be had. Some people have set-ups can get pretty elaborate, with fancy barbecue grills and gourmet food and wine. It just sounds like an amazing time.
Now, I must make a confession. I’ve never in my 25 years been to a tailgate. I know, I know. Especially being such an avid football fan, I am even astonished I’ve never attended a tailgate party. With all the fervor surrounding the beginning of the season and my desire to know more about tailgate parties, I made the executive decision to dedicate today’s post to all that is a tailgate party.
Wikipedia describes tailgating parties as…
In the United States, a tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food. Tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts. People attending such a party are said to be tailgating. Many people participate even if their vehicles do not have tailgates. Also, many people don't even go into the game and just go to the tailgate to party.
Tailgate parties have spread to the pre-game festivities at sporting events other than football (e.g. basketball, hockey, soccer, and baseball) and is also used at non-sporting events such as weddings and other non-sports-related barbecue gatherings.
In schools and communities nationwide, there are athletic departments, coaches and parents of student athletes who rely on post-game tailgating parties to build community and support for their program and team. Smaller, underfunded programs are assisted by the voluntary participation of parents and friends to feed the team and coaching staff post-competition, which establishes a strong core of support year after year.
Pretty generic description, but did you ever consider tailgates at weddings? How strange.
Now, the most important part of a tailgate, in my opinion, would be the food and drink.
After doing some more research, I discovered that tailgates typically involves alcohol, like beer or mixed drinks, and grilling burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, etc. While watching a food travel show on TV, I saw some tailgate parties that get really elaborate and creative with their food.
The typical tailgate fare includes picnic staples such as hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, and cold salads like coleslaw or potato salad. Some food products were created because of tailgate parties. A brand of pimento cheese, called Palmetto Cheese, got its start at Atlanta Braves tailgate parties. I really do love pimento cheese. I know that’s kind of weird, but my goodness, it’s good.
Various tailgating games include beer pong, ladder toss, corn hole, washer pitching and flip cup Dizzy Bat (also known as Louisville Chugger). It is also common for fans to bring out stereo equipment to tailgate parties to dance and let loose.
In my quest to discover all there is to know about a tailgate party so that I can further fantasize about going to one, I came across a website with some really yummy looking recipes and some cool ideas for different tailgate celebrations.
One of the recipes to spice up an average burger on the grill was one that I sort of want right now. It’s a Fajita Burger (recipe to follow). I love fajitas and I love burgers. The recipe looks super simple and would probably be a great meal at a tailgate with some cold beers and friends. Man I want to go to a tailgate now!
My new mission? This year at some point, I will seek out a tailgate and see what it’s all about in real life. Until then, I will keep envisioning what it may be like to cheer on my favorite NFL team on a Sunday tailgate.
Have you ever been tailgating? If so, what was your favorite part about it?
· 1.27 oz. packet Lawry’s Fajitas Seasoning
· 1/4 Cup melted butter
· 1 lb. ground beef
· 1 brown onion
· 2 green peppers
· 1 Tablespoon olive oil
· 4 hamburger buns
· Combine fajita seasoning and butter until incorporated. Add ground beef into a bowl and mix in fajita butter until throughout. Form 4 patties and place in an airtight container for transport to the tailgate site.
· Prepare onions and peppers at home: Slice onion and peppers into strips and discard pepper seeds. Sauté in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned. Cool and place in a foil pouch. Reheat by placing pouch on the grill at the tailgating site.
· Grill burgers on a lightly oiled rack over medium-high heat, 5 minutes on each side for medium burgers. Top with reheated onions and peppers and serve on a bun.
Makes 4 servings
(sources: wikipedia, http://www.celebrations.com/tailgating)