Don’t pretend otherwise. It’s ok. We just finished the stretch of time that starts at Thanksgiving and runs all the way to New Year’s Day (and that doesn’t even include Bowl Games or the NFL playoffs). And no matter which holiday you celebrate in between (Festivus included), chances are you ate a pile of garbage every day. It’s a little period of time I like to call “The Platterhorn,” and it’s awful. Just every day with the cookies and the cake and the… like, as I write this, I’ve eaten two full meals today and I’m starving because I’m horrible. My girlfriend’s mom bought me a hammock for Christmas, and guess what? It’s load tested for a weight that’s 30 pounds less than me. Isn’t that disgraceful? I would say I’ve never been more disgusted with myself. I mean, I woke up at 5 AM on New Year’s with “the cheese sweats.”
But I digest — er — digress. Point is, we’re a ravenous people. And we would eat our own shoe if it had ranch dressing on it. But thankfully, we don’t have to sink so low (which, come on, it’s not really that much lower). Instead, we have a heaping helping of regional favorites served up at tailgates all across the U.S. every weekend. These are Tailgate Fan‘s top 10 regional tailgating foods:
Photo Credit: Public Domain
10. Cincinnati Chili (Cincinnati)
Cincinnati Chili is the byproduct of combining the second worst city in the United States (which, incidentally, is also the second worst city in Ohio) with a bowl of hot meat and spaghetti. Now, just because this seems like something that a chef who was trying to get fired from the Olive Garden would make, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. That’s because, when you get right down to it, this is basically bachelor chow. Like, how different is this from a bowl of Ramen and some hastily torn up bologna? Not that different, folks. And considering that that’s the exact meal I lived on from 1997-2013, I’m not one to cast aspersions. Besides, as I’ve mentioned here before, Cincinnati actually seems like a pretty cool tailgating town.
“Pfft! Walking Tacos aren’t from South Bend!” says Taco Anthropologist ‘Taquiera McGillicuddy.’ Ok, that’s fair. And believe it or not, Wikipedia doesn’t have an article about Frito pie… wait a minute, they totally do.
Ok, so, my first encounter with the Walking Taco was in South Bend, but it seems it was actually in Santa Fe. Now, if you’ve never had a walking taco, it’s a gloriously lazy way of transporting Mexican food into your fat mouth. See, tacos are already a pretty lazy way of eating. After all, you’re putting all of your food into an edible, often Dorito-flavored plate. The walking taco takes all those ingredients — meat, cheese, etc. — and puts them into a bag of Fritos, which act like a shell. So now, instead of turning your head, all you have to do is shovel the food in your mouth out of a food bag, like some kind of garbage disposal.
This, I think, is a dangerous thing. Consider, if you will, this scale of Mexican food consumption difficulty. So what I’m saying is that New Mexico has doomed us all.
8. Kummelweck (Buffalo)
Residents of Western New York state will recognize this tasty sammich. The Kummelweck is a thinly sliced roast beef sandwich served on a roll with kosher salt and caraway seeds. This favorite of Bills fans everywhere is typically dipped in au jus and frequently features a dollop of horseradish on the roll. I think it sounds delightful, but mostly because it was featured in a documentary called Sandwiches You Will Like and I will do whatever the television tells me to do. (I love that title, by the way, because it’s kind of a veiled threat… a delicious veiled threat.) Also, while researching the Kummelweck, I came upon a Wikipedia page called “List of Sandwiches,” so go ahead and bookmark that page for the next time you need some hardcore food erotica.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
7. Cochon de Lait (Baton Rouge)
The folks at LSU always put on a hell of a tailgate (as I’ve mentioned before). So it comes as no surprise that they can cook a great meal on game day. Their most famous dish? Arguably “cochon de lait” which I would assume is some kind of bowl of caramel and chocolate. Let’s just plug that word into the Googles and… suckling pig? Wow! They… they kill them between two and six weeks old? When they’re still getting milk from their mama? They kill them when they look like this!?
I love the idea of beer can chicken originating in Cleveland. It’s as if the entire population got so sick of the “no championship” thing that they just took it out on the chicken population of the city. Now, as I understand it, the idea of beer can chicken is that the beer, as it evaporates, works as a flavoring agent to make your perfectly good chicken taste like Schlitz Dry. See, I think this is an admirable model of efficiency. Instead of tasting that potent chicken-and-beer combination when you’re vomiting from another multi-interception Browns game, you can taste it ahead of time. Good thinking, gang!
Tailgate Fan visits Cleveland…
5. Buffalo Wings (Buffalo)
I like buffalo wings because when you eat enough of them you feel like Ghengis Khan standing over a mountain of tiny, defeated foes. Also, any food that openly encourages you to dip it in bleu cheese dressing is aces, in my book. (see: Ice Cream Sandwiches)
4. Philly Cheese Steak (Philadelphia)
Depending on your point of view on the Eagles current state of affairs, this sandwich is either your ultimate gloating hero (meaning a sandwich you eat while being smarmy, not a gloating hero like Spider Man or Gaston) or your sole, cheesy, beefy consolation in the face of a stacked football team with 12 losses. Now, the Philly Cheese Steak has always struck me as bizarre, since the preferred serving style involves piping hot Cheez Whiz. Meanwhile, last time I tried to serve up something with piping hot Cheez Whiz, I got told I was “making a scene” and “who do you know at this wedding, anyway?” Still, no matter how you take it, it’s hard to ruin a big ol’ sandwich with steak, cheese and some optional veggies.
Tailgate Fan visits Philadelphia…
3. Clam Chowder (New England)
Hear me out here: New England fans are awful. Not only are they equal parts entitled and furious, but their highly successful, incredibly boring football team is basically the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL. Now here’s the kicker: I’m a Patriots fan. That’s how polarizing the fan base is. And that’s the beauty of a good bowl of clam chowder. Not only will a piping hot bowl of the creamy stuff distract from any conversation about Gronk for a least a few minutes, but while New England fans are chomping down, they won’t be able to talk at all. Now, let’s get real for a second, because this could save your life: Manhattan Clam Chowder = red, New England Clam Chowder = white.
2. Barbeque (Kansas City)
The folks at Arrowhead know how to tailgate because it’s really all they have going for them. If you need visual evidence, here is a good summary of the 2012 Chiefs. Lest ye cast aspersions, I’ll remind you all that Brady Quinn was an excellent quarterback in college, and one heck of a dreamboat to boot!
Anyway, Chiefs fans certainly put on a good tailgate. And I think we can all agree that nothing quite soothes the soul like some tasty barbeque. Now, Kansas City puts most of their focus on kick-ass sauce alchemy, so between your game-time chow and your critically impaired motor skills, you’re going to get sloppy.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
1. Barbeque (Austin)
“Wait a second, he’s got barbeque on here twice!” says Communist Super Villain Ivan von Funslayer. Yep, you got me dead to rights. However, I maintain that you can never have too much barbeque, and even if I put all 10 entries on this list as barbeque, that’d still be a hell of a list.
Now, I could tell you how Central Texas barbeque differs from other types due to their focus on prime beef, a distinct dry rub and no sauce whatsoever, or the fact that this kind of barbeque derived from outdoor meat markets, meaning that they’re ideally suited for tailgate fare.