Are You Ready for Some Football?
Faster than a speeding party bus heading to the stadium, September has arrived. That means it's time to get out your Hawkeye, Cyclone, and Panther jerseys. And "Go Bulldogs!", too - can't forget them or I won't hear the end of it from Mrs. AllSpice. Football season is upon us. Not from around these parts? Just quit reading now.
This weekend sees the debut of the newly-re-redesigned Cy-Hawk Trophy
, awarded to the winner of Saturday's Iowa v. Iowa State college football game. The intrastate rivalry dates back to 1894 [keep reading for even more moldy Iowa football trivia
]. All but the most cynical football detractor can't help but get excited about the game, if only because it will end the endless workplace speculation and trash-talking about the competition. Then we can move on to more important things - like basketball season.
But for now, whether your sense of self-worth rides on the outcome of this year's Big Game, or if you're like me and can't tell the marching band from the home team's march down the field, football season brings something everyone can enjoy: Tailgating!
Ain't No Party Like a Tailgate Party
No one knows exactly when or why tailgating began. One story is that hungry spectators invented the pre-game cookout at a 1904 Harvard-Yale game
. Not to be outdone by Harvard/Yale, Princeton claims the tailgate party originated even earlier -- at a Princeton–Rutgers football game in 1869
While the Ivy Leaguers were busy staking their claim to football fame by "inventing" the tailgate party, Iowa had its own moment of major football history. In 1889, a little-known institution of higher learning called the "State University of Iowa" played a team from some other school named "Iowa College" in the first football game played west of the Mississippi River
You may know those two schools by their current names: the University of Iowa and Grinnell College. In that 1889 game, Grinnell, not generally known in modern times for its football prowess, deployed the infamous "flying wedge offense
" and won the inaugural game 24-0, giving Grinnell bragging rights in perpetuity [at least according to Grinnell alum AllSpiceGuy - Class of '87]. During the next year's re-match between the two schools, Grinnell dropped its claim of unnecessary roughness against Iowa when it was learned that the (allegedly) roughing Iowa player was in fact a Professor of English Literature at Iowa
. It's hard to imagine what would constitute "unnecessary" roughness by an English Lit professor.
Oh....you were expecting something about food? Here you go:
Suffice it to say, college kids get hungry, and so do "adult" football fans. The practice of sharing libations and a hearty meal at a tailgate party has become, for some, as big a deal as the football game itself. So here are a few tips and suggestions to make your next tailgating party a bit tastier - and easier. After all, it is really about the game. Right.
Beyond Velveeta Dip - Spice Up Your Tailgate With Real Food
Unless you're lucky enough to live in a college town, you'll be schlepping the entire party with you, so the more you can prepare at home, the better. The key to tailgating is to plan ahead. Even though an estimated 95% of our tailgaters
prepare their food at the stadium, anything you can make ahead will free you up for more fun on game day. But being a good Boy Scout (is there a tailgating merit badge?) by being prepared, doesn't limit you to boring pre-fab snack food, either.
Here are some tips for simplifying your tailgate prep:
Be true to your school. Garnish dips in school colors: for Hawkeye yellow, try saffron, curry or turmeric. For the team from Ames, Tomato Powder, paprika, or red pepper flakes each lend a zippy taste and a Cyclone red tint to any dish.
If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em. Plan a menu that incorporates the regional cuisine of that weekend's opponent: Fried Green Tomatoes for a southern team, Spicy Apple Cider for northern ones. Kielbasa or beer-simmered sausages for Wisconsin [or anywhere in the upper Midwest, dontcha know].
Smoke your opponents. There are so many different varieties of barbeque to celebrate -- or slow-roast -- teams from Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, and the southeastern US. Check out our different blends and rubs, or make your own secret sauce recipe from our many ingredients.
Prepare for the worst. If your alma mater chokes, have simple sweet desserts ready to soothe the sorrow: brownies, ice cream, cookies - and give them an adult twist of Espresso Brava Salt, Cacao Nibs, or spicy chile pepper.