There’s nothing quite like the excitement of sitting in the stadium stands on a crisp fall day and hearing the roar of the crowd as your favorite football team runs onto the field. I’ve often thought it must have been how the ancient Romans felt in the Coliseum before the carnage between gladiators ensued.
Turns out the century-old tradition of football tailgating may also have its roots in ancient Rome. According to a two-year study by John Sherry, a University of Notre Dame cultural anthropologist, the community-building traditions of college tailgating are not so different from harvest celebrations in ancient Rome or Greece.
Southern tailgating is definitely more about sharing and community than the competition to follow. Here’s a collection of helpful tips as you head off to the first college football games.
Spend more money on parking than your ticket – The closer you are to the action, the more fun the tailgating. Plus you’ll spend more of the day tailgating anyway. And don’t forget your tickets.
Prep the day before – You know you’ll want to get there early, so prepare food and drink the day before. Load your truck or car the night before with everything except perishables. (Keep a list of everything in the fridge so you don’t forget anything on game day.)
Bring the little extras – Bring a folding table with your team’s colors and logo, as well as matching towels. There will always be something to wipe up, even if it’s just tears after the game. Store coolers and an empty plastic tub with lid under the table. This will help keep the coolers safe (and out of reach from opposing fans). Use the empty tub for anything dirty that shouldn’t be thrown away. Once you get back home, you’ll know immediately what needs to be washed. Hand sanitizers and baby wipes are good for greasy hands.
And more extras – Plan to bring extra food and chairs. Part of the fun is meeting new people. Open your tailgate up to drifters; make friends and host new acquaintances.
Food tips – Until fall temps arrive, avoid food items that go bad quickly in the heat. For colder months, bring a variety of soups in thermos bottles. Plan for lots of easy, finger foods and keep lids under containers to make packing up easy. Have fun with your recipes… playing against UGA, plan on devouring a few “hot dawgs”. (For this week’s UGA versus ULM game, see recipe below.)
Beverage tips – Freeze water bottles to use in place of ice in coolers. It saves space, keeps the beer and wine cold, and you have water to drink later. You can also freeze grapes and add them to each glass of wine. It doesn’t dilute the wine and you have a tasty grape for later.
Be nice to the opposing fans – We southerners are known for our manners. Be kind before and after the game and let the athletes handle the competition.
Kick-off this year’s tailgating season in Athens this weekend as the Georgia Bulldogs host the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks with this easy-to-prepare recipe:
Shredded Warhawk Chili Tacos
with Georgia Peach Salsa Finishing on Top
1 ½ lbs. (about 6, 4 oz.) chicken breasts
1 cup salsa
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
2-3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Hard shell tacos or small soft tortillas
Shredded low-fat Mexican blend cheese
Combine the first seven ingredients in a crockpot on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. On game day, remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Return the chicken to the crockpot and stir with remaining ingredients. Serve over shredded lettuce or with tacos or tortillas. Top with Georgia Peach Salsa and/or cheese. It serves about 8 hungry fans.
Georgia Peach Salsa Finishing on Top
6 large peaches (preferably Georgia yellow cling peaches), or 2 cans sliced peaches, peeled & diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded & diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons sliced jalapenos, finely chopped
½ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro