The summer time and all of its sunny seasonal bliss is coming to a resounding end as the month of September rolls on. So pack away your short shorts and thigh bearing swim suits and brace yourself for what is to come: tailgate season.
The tailgate is a quintessential component of autumn; you could say it fits in quite snugly with apple pies, chlorophyll breaking down in leaves and the sudden influx of pumpkin themed décor. The people of America love their tailgate. They take pride in their protein dense delicacies created to complement a rip-roaring game of football. So to kickoff the beginning of a season of eating, delve into these regional favorites dished out at tailgates across America.
1. Chili- Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati holds the title as the “Chili Capital of America” with over 100 chili joints in the metro area alone. What sets this chili apart? Perhaps the eclectic mix of added flavors; Cincinnati chili contains traces of cinnamon, cocoa, allspice and Worcestershire. Beyond spices this chili also takes a twist to its serving. Rather than stopping at a sprinkle of cheese on the top, this chili is plopped onto a blanket of spaghetti and then generously topped with a thick layer of cheddar cheese. Touchdown.
2. Burgoo- East Kentucky
Burgoo is a spicy stew composed of a symphony of meats including, but not limited to: venison, squirrel, raccoon, game birds, pork, chicken or lamb. Add some veggies such as corn, potatoes or beans and a few essential spices and voila, a burgoo is born. The recipe varies from cook to cook, however most renditions agree that a good burgoo is thick enough to stand a spoon in it without any teetering. Add some bacon infused cornbread and you’re burgoo experience is complete.
3. Barbacoa de Cabeza- Texas
Perhaps the most extreme renditions of tailgating festivities occur within the state boundaries of Texas. The motto Bigger is Better is exemplified by their tailgate specialty of Beef Barbacoa. A dish that consists of an entire head of a steer that is sprinkled with salt and pepper, lathered in a coat of cilantro and then propped on a pit and roasted in the ground until mouthwatering perfection. Slap the meat on a warm corn tortilla with a generous amount of guacamole and bite into one helluva a pregame taco.
4. Bacon wrapped Crow and Jalapeño morsels- Arkansas
Arkansas takes pride in it’s down home cooking and flavors found in many of the state’s dishes. Although Arkansas does not have one agreed upon state dish, it is known for combing the influences of its Southwest, South and Midwest neighbors. A wild finger-licking dish found in the Mountainside Ozark region of Arkansas are the bacon wrapped crow and jalapeño morsels, which are coated in brown sugar, splashed with soy sauce and grilled to a delectable crisp. It’s the right kind of gamey for game-day.
5. Clam Chowder- New England
Clam chowder makes the tailgate list due to its intrinsically hearty blend of creaminess and smokiness all contained in one bacon-sprinkled bowl. The trifecta of potatoes, clams, and onions makes the base of this dish. Top it off with a layer of bacon bits and this New England favorite is ready for battle.
6. Cochon de Lait- Louisiana
The direct translation of this dish is not all that appetizing, Cochon de Lait, a French term, directly translates to suckling pig. Yes, this couple century old Louisiana favorite is made from a pig that still sucks on the teat of its mother, but if you can get past the initial shock of the inhumanity, I’ve heard it’s quite delicious. The dish involves marinating for days, overnight roasting, and a final touch of eclectic spices including hot sauce, Worcestershire and blackening spice.
7. Buffalo Wings- New York
The city of Buffalo in New York boasts the origin of the ever-popular game-viewing snack that is the wing. Smothered in hot sauce, cooked over an open flame grill and dipped in salvation-inducing sauces makes the wing the by far champion of New York tailgate shindigs. Wing on.
There you have it, the seven wonders of the tailgate domain as interpreted by the many states of America. The dishes are daring, unique and most of all desirably delicious. Try one at your next tailgate, or stick to your own roasted regional plate because lets face it, nothing says tailgate more than home town pride. Happy gaming. Happy eating.