CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Fans tailgate before the Chicago Bears face the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 14, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
I’m struggling to come up with a metaphor for why fall is so frickin’ awesome. Not because there aren’t any good examples. Rather, because there are too many. Let’s give a few of these a spin:
Fall is like a Thursday evening happy hour. It’s got all the promise of the weekend coming up, without all the weird pressures of expectations that the weekend brings. (I think we can all agree that weekends are universally good, but they do have that feeling of ‘…we should do something, instead of just sitting on the couch, playing Fallout: New Vegas, right?’)
Fall is the hours between 4 PM and 7 PM, when work is ending but nobody is going out just yet. The day itself is stretching out and relaxing from a long period of work.
Fall is the appetizer course, which is unarguably always better than the dinner course. Until Congress approves mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, and chicken tenders on a platter with three dipping sauces as an acceptable substitute for dinner, this will always be the case.
Fall is awesome. Like, you’re done with all the stupid heat of summer, as well as all the pressures of looking hot so you can 1) go to the beach and 2) stop sweating all the damn time. Football has started up. Baseball is at its most interesting, and nobody is talking about the NBA. The holidays are better. (Thanksgiving, with its eating and football watching, will always be better than your December holiday of choice. And Halloween — the least pressure-filled holiday of the year, is great. Think about it. You HAVE to do something on your December holiday, whether that means visiting family or whatever. Halloween, you can dress up as Peter Venkman, or you can just do… nothing. Totally acceptable either way and nobody will ever, ever question you.)
Fall also has the best flavors. And that’s what we’re talking about today. So without further ado, here are our top 10 fall foods for tailgating. Oh yes. We’re gonna get our pumpkin on.
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10. Deep-Fried Turkey
At no other point in the year could you reasonably say “hey, I’m going to take a 30-pound bird carcass and toss it into a boiling bucket of oil.” Fall is the exception. If you’ve never had deep-fried turkey, know that it is divine. That said, remember that you NEED TO STUDY UP ON DEEP-FRIED TURKEY PREPARATION FIRST. If you fry your turkey improperly, things explode and you will be hurt. What do I mean by “improperly”? I’m not telling. Now you gotta Google it and read up on the entire list of safety precautions, you silly-billy.
9. Hot Apple Cider
To me, there aren’t many drinks out there that are just as tasty cold as they are hot. And get out of here with that “coffee” business. Cold coffee just tastes like you forgot that you had coffee 45 minutes ago. And iced tea is superior to hot tea by any metric. No, apple cider is the only drink I know of that’s equally delightful at any temperature. It is as autumn as it gets. As an added bonus, you could probably toss some rum in there and make it Irish. Er. Caribbean?
Also, bourbon. Always bourbon.
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Cheating a bit here, but bear with me. Sure, you could eat chili at any point in the year, but one of the wonderful, beautiful parts of fall is that you’re given the green light on eating more stick-to-your-ribs cuisine. To “warm up,” as they justify it. Hey, I’m not one to argue. I look way better in fall clothes anyway. So toss back a few bowls and make it weird when you show up 20 pounds heavier at New Years. Also, quick note: there are pumpkin chili recipes out there, if you really want to fall it up.
7. Turkey Legs
There’s something about a turkey leg that makes you feel like you’re eating one of the ribs from the beginning of The Flintstones. Like you could eat this thing and fight alongside Genghis Khan. And fall is the only time you can walk around tearing into this thing without people being like “…is that a turkey leg”?
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
6. Mac and Cheese
Because what the hell.
5. Thanksgiving Sandwich
Arguably the most American dish ever — because we took ingredients typical of the most American holiday ever (outside of July 4th) and put them between two slabs of bread. I don’t care if the sandwich came from England. We’ve turned it into some kind of offensive masterpiece. Plus, with the Thanksgiving sandwich, you get your dose of cranberries, which is a prerequisite for fall.
This one takes a bit of effort, but bear with me. First, make this. Then acquire ginger snaps in lieu of crackers. Then, serve it in a hollowed-out pumpkin.
3. Walking Taco
Like chili, you could probably serve a walking taco at any point of the year. But there’s something about fall’s fading temperatures that make it the perfect time to huck a bunch of chili and cheese into a bag of Fritos and call it a tailgate. If that’s not fall enough for you then, I don’t know. Throw some nutmeg in there.
2. Cranberry Vodka Over Ice
Don’t you judge me.
1. Apple Pie Moonshine
We’ve sung the praises of apple pie moonshine here before. And today we’re going to do it again. Apple pie moonshine is, quite simply, the most delicious, most dangerous drink ever. It is Turkish Delight. It is an Orange Lazarus. You think you drink it, but it drinks you. It is magical.