Carla Hall

Carla Hall of Top Chef Season 5 helps you plan the perfect tailgate.

on Sep 14, 2009


It’s TAILGATE season. That time of year when school begins, the days get shorter, the weather gets cooler, and our favorite football teams battle it out in stadiums and on fields across the nation. It’s also a time when football fans and/or foodies can easily and happily enjoy the same event. Well, maybe. After questioning many of my friends, diehard football fans want quantity over quality. Foodies want quality over quantity, unless it’s an experience like none other - like having chocolate covered fire ants in small African village. I think it’s known by now that I’m not a big football enthusiast, but a good chili with bowls of various condiments can seem like a touchdown to me. I will take the quality AND the quantity, thank you very much.

So let’s review this somewhat sacred pastime called tailgating. It seems to me that it started out as a random activity, born out of the preparedness of a childhood scout. Fans got to the stadium early to beat the crowds, took their own food to keep from buying the expensive, mediocre stuff at the concessions stands in the stadium, played a few games while waiting, and met like-minded folks in the process to get riled up about the upcoming game. Solid. Sounds like a good and sensible time to me. THEN, tailgating became the “in” thing, a popular fad that spread like wildfire. The party pads within the painted white lines where bulging at the seams, and folks were getting more and more elaborate with their setups – grills (a must if you’re serious), canopies, RVs, blenders for frozen drinks, football passing games, bean bag games, beer, beer and more beer (Pabst may be acceptable if you get a case for under $10.) As the fad grew, and the amount of consumed alcohol quadrupled, tailgating was quickly getting out of control and becoming the activity that stadium owners and cities wanted to squash or at least scale back.