Tailgating has come a long way in recent years, going from a simple pregame past-time to one that now features a full onslaught of activities. No longer do we simply pack last night’s fried chicken and serve it with a cold beer. On football weekends, another kind of sport is played, and fans carry it to the extreme, trying to outdo their neighboring opponents in this time-honored feast.
The grills are bigger, the menus are impressive, the decorations more festive. It’s tailgating —or better yet —tail-“catering” time throughout the South.
Many fans carry their fanfare to new heights, loving every minute of their play-by-play action, becoming parking-lot pros. It’s where gravy meets the gridiron. Auburn University alums gather around a big screen on a grassy mall near the stadium to watch the game, eat great food and socialize with their peers. Almost every Southern Conference team has a huge entourage of tail-gating fans.
Former Mocs football player Ron Wade doesn’t sit on the sidelines during home games. He’s front and center with his tailgating team: Mocs and Docs, so named because three out of the five founding members are doctors, and all except for one, played on the Mocs football team from 1964-1968. Being a Mocs and Docs founding member is a badge of honor of sorts. You can spot them from far away, wearing their blue-and-gold, diamond-patterned Mocs slacks, and on a cool day, sweaters emblazoned with the letter “C.”
“One time a lady told me she’d give me $100 right then and there if she could have those pants and give them to her husband,” Wade says. But they didn’t come off.
Tailgating is all about food, friends and family. Football, too, but that comes later.
“Just about everyone associated with ‘Moc World’ —including former university chancellors and football players come by,” Wade says. “We have folks drive from Arkansas, South Georgia and the Carolinas all the time. Old Mocs, new Mocs and wanna-be Mocs. Even security comes to eat with us.”
And they eat well. Mocs and Docs will serve hundreds of guests at some home games, so each feast is a plentiful one: big pots of chili, cauldrons of Cajun fare, a batch of barbecue —there’s nothing timid about a tailgating menu.
“Tailgating is all about ‘excess in moderation,’” says tailgating expert Jeff Dockeray, founder of Tailgate Radio Network. “And that excess falls on game day in the fall.”
Story by Anne Braly
Photography by Blake and Elea Wright
And contributed by UTC Alumni Association and Auburn University
Some Delights for your “Tail-catering Menu” by Dish T’Pass Catering Company
Jalapeno Corn Slaw
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup sliced pickled jalapeno pepper
1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 green onion, finely chopped
Combine lemon juice, rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey; whisk dressing until blended. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and jalapenos; saute until corn begins to brown and peppers are wilted. In a large bowl, layer slaw mix, corn/jalapeno mixture, cilantro and green onions. Add dressing and toss gently to blend. Salt and pepper, to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 8 by 8-inch square pan of cornbread (your favorite recipe)
2 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans whole corn, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped bell pepper
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup sliced green onions
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Combine ranch dressing mix, sour cream and mayonnaise; set aside. Crumble half of cornbread into a large bowl. Top with half of pinto beans, corn, black beans, sour cream mixture and remaining ingredients. Repeat layers. Cover and chill 2 hours or overnight. Makes 8-10 servings.
Sweet Chili Pork Rub
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chili powder
1/2 cup Alchemy Spice Company Wake & Bake Sweet Spice
1 pork tenderloin
Mix spices in small bowl and rub on pork. Let sit for 20 minutes to overnight. Grill until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes and slice. Rub may be stored in airtight container for up to 3 months.
Alternative: The pork may be cooked in the oven the day before so it will be ready to pack and take with you to the game. Place in an ovenproof skillet and sear on all sides, then transfer to oven and cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.