Tailgating Traditions

Philadelphia vs. New England

Tailgating parties are an integral part of football tradition. The food and drinks prepared and consumed before and during the game are of great importance to fans everywhere. While cold beer and charcoal grills are almost universal in tailgating, there are regional favorites all over the country. What follows is a brief description of regional food favorites that fans of this year's Super Bowl teams may enjoy on Feb. 6.

– Claudia Alarcón

Food Strung

If you were going to culinarily honor the tailgating of the Eagles for the Super Bowl, you'd first need some local beers. You'd get some Penn, Yuengling, "growlers" (eight-beer minikegs) of Bell Tower Brown Ale, or some Downingtown (one of the top five craft beers in America): Victory would be the obvious choice, but you could also take along some of their 7.4% double bock, Old Victorious. For the teetotalers: Frank's Black Cherry Wishniak Soda would be the option.

For breakfast, you'd pack on the carbs with some scrapple sammies: grilled English muffins topped with grilled, sliced scrapple, cheese, fried eggs, and ketchup – these are cooked on a camp stove while the real fires are blazing and cooking down to a good bed of coals. Although many consider scrapple a culinary abomination, Eagles fans love the ground leftover pig scraps, with cornmeal and spices thrown in, compressed into a loaf.

For noshes, you'd have Federal Bakery's soft pretzels, gently warmed in foil over the coals, with some hot mustard for dipping, and some hoagies, sliced thin and toothpick-skewered (properly made on an Amoroso's Italian roll, with sharp provolone, prosciutto, superset, old-fashioned capocollo, Dilusso salami, pepperoni, tomato slices, shredded lettuce, thin onion slices, oregano, and olive oil, just like the ones at Campo's, Primo, Salumeria, Sarcone's, or Tony Luke's.

Once the fire got cooked down and you'd had adequate libations, you'd make South Philly Cheesesteaks, cooked over the fire on a flattop griddle, with thinly sliced rib eye, Cheez Whiz or provolone, grilled onions, and hot & sweet roaster peppers (in the style of Dalessandro's, Geno's, Jim's, or Pat's). You'd want to accompany these with grilled pork tenderloin and provolone sandwiches for good measure. Of course, you would also require copious amounts of bratwurst, simmered in local beer, grilled, then topped with caramelized onions and horseradish mustard.

For dessert, it might be cold enough to keep some Rita's or Morrone's Water Ice frozen without a supply of dry ice, but it also might be suicide to sip this stuff when it's ass-freezing cold. Instead, gently warm some Tastykakes (Little Debbie-like local cakes) over the slow side of the grill, just enough to make the filling slightly molten, and then serve with a side bowl of Goldenberg's Peanut Chews (yummy bite-sized, chocolate-covered peanut butter candies).

In Philly, the tailgating cuisine centers on the pig, and they have a wealth of local porcine product tradition upon which to draw. If you want the real deal, call Taste of Philadelphia (1-800-8-HOAGIE) or visit www.tasteofphiladelphia.com, and they can wrap it up and overnight it to your front door. Go Eagles!

– Mick Vann

Food Strung

New England. A place where football season means unimaginably cold weather and blizzards. But that doesn't deter Patriots fans from being enthusiastic tailgaters. Just what do these people cook when it feels like it's 20 below zero on game day?

Considering that our beloved queso dip would not stay in liquid state for very long in New England temperatures, fans may like to snack on the famous sharp cheddar cheese from Cabot Creamery in Vermont, luckily available in Austin at Central Market. It is a rich and creamy cheddar with just the right amount of sharpness. I love it plain or with crackers.

Clearly, things to warm them up seem to be popular among Patriots tailgaters. Boston baked beans, beans slow-baked in molasses, have been a favorite Boston dish since colonial days, when the city had a big rum-producing role during the time of the slave and sugar trade. This dish continues to be one of New England's most-loved traditional dishes, although for me, a Mexican, the thought of sweetened beans is enough to curb the appetite.

My friend Joan Tuttle-Vargas, a native of Massachusetts who has lived in Austin for the past 11 years, recalls chili as a very popular game day dish. "There always seemed to be a lot of chili at football parties," she says. She also mentions seafood chowder, or as she jokingly pronounces it, "chow-dah," made with clams or fish, potatoes, and milk. "Meatball sandwiches and Italian sausage sandwiches with lots of peppers and onions were also big. And fresh littleneck clams, with horseradish and Tabasco. Mmmmm."

If I had to hang out with Patriots fans, I would rather do so with the people steaming Maine lobsters, clams, or hot dogs in beer, preferably a good Boston-style lager, like Sam Adams or the local Harpoon brew. Some people even do traditional New England clambakes in a big pot on the grill, complete with lobsters, clams, potatoes, and corn-on-the-cob, properly covered with seaweed. Now, that's my style.

– C.A.

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More by Claudia Alarcón
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