You Don’t Need Tickets to Tailgate

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I’m not sure if it is the slight change in weather or the fact that my kids are back at college that has me thinking of tailgating. Tailgating is that time-honored, uniquely American parking lot party that’s as much an event as the event it precedes. Last football season, our tailgates were the place to be for college kids who wanted some home cooking. And according to many, our tailgate food went beyond your typical munchies. In fact, die-hard tailgating groups around the nation are stepping up their games. Portable smokers, turkey fryers and grills get no rest as cooks dish up breakfast, lunch and dinner in stadium parking lots.

Having a party at the back end of your vehicle, in a designated spot in a parking lot or on a field really takes some of the anxiety out of throwing a party. There’s no cleaning to prepare for the party, and when stuff falls to the ground, it’s no big deal. With the exception of trash, crumbs of food and spilled drinks are no problem. Of course, one of the main necessities at any tailgate party is plenty of trash bags. In fact, vendor-type people at most stadiums are hired to go around and collect the bags, so you don’t typically need to haul trash home. On top of that, there are always people going around and collecting your returnables for the deposit.

For our group, tailgate food often depends on when the game starts. Early game times typically lend themselves to at least some type of breakfast food. Our biggest hits were breakfast sandwiches and hash brown potatoes. Fresh fruit and bagels were also big. You can never go wrong with fresh fruit, as the college kids complain that they don’t always get good fruit at school. At Nino’s, we have the perfect fruit trays from our ice table. They have snap-on lids for great travel, and they don’t take up a lot of space. You can pick them up at the last minute; there’s no need to order ahead.

Standard Fandemonium involves some fan arriving to the site early to secure the spot with hot coffee in hand and a bagel to tide him over until the grills and griddles get going. If the games start later in the day, we gear our menus to lunch-type fare. Mexican fajitas, taco meat and the fixings are great, as you can prepare ahead (or pick up) and just get them warmed up and put in chafing pans to keep them hot. Sub sandwiches are another great idea for pre-game or after the game while traffic subsides. And if you stop in to pick up fajitas, taco meat, fruit trays or even our homemade subs, don’t forget to grab the dips, chips and even Salvaggio’s homemade Party Mix.

Top 10 Items to Take to a Tailgate

10. A table of some size to place your food items on
9. Chairs, blankets or beach towels to hang out on, as standing all day can be too much, and this event should be relaxing.
8. A tent of some sort to provide cover from the elements, it’s also good for keeping the sun off if you are not lucky enough to get a shady spot.
7. Sun lotion and bug repellent can be handy.
6. Frisbee, ladder golf or any other backyard games
5. Grill
4. Radio for music and/or TV and dish if you don’t happen to have tickets to the event
3. Trash bags, serving utensils, silverware, plates, cups, serving platters, chafing dishes or crock pots
2. Food for the tailgate
1. Cocktails, soda and plenty of water to drink

Tailgate parties are not only for sporting events. Some people tailgate at concerts too. How do you tailgate? Please share some of your favorite items to take to a tailgate party!