A successful tailgate party is not unlike a successful NFL team. To be a winner, you need more than just the right components. You need an organized game plan that is executed flawlessly and within a certain budget.
While tailgating may be just part of your total game day experience, it may be the most important - perhaps even more than the game itself. Since a majority of fans kick off the game day activities with tailgating, a tailgate party can often set the tone for the rest of the day. And since any tailgating event revolves around the food, its importance just can't be overstated.
Why all the hoopla about the food? While there's nothing wrong with simply tossing some burgers and dogs on the grill, you have to remember that this isn't a mild-mannered backyard barbecue we're talking about. NFL tailgating is loads of fun, but it can also be stressful & tiresome.
Alcohol. Brutal weather. Physical activity. Traffic jams. More alcohol And that's before kickoff. You need to fortify yourself for all that and more.
The ideal tailgate food should:
Be easy to prepare. While it doesn't have to be as simple as flipping a burger, you should be able to get by with basic cookout equipment. Lots of folks prefer to cook on site so you don't need the added stress of having to bring along your entire kitchen.
Slow alcohol absorption. For better or worse, it's a fact that people drink while tailgating, sometimes excessively. The rate at which alcohol is absorbed depends on how quickly the stomach empties its contents into the intestine. The higher the dietary fat content, the more time this emptying will require and the longer the process of absorption will take - in other words, you'll feel "less drunk". Foods containing fat, protein, and carbohydrates reportedly are excellent at slowing the absorption process.
Keep you warm. In certain areas the weather conditions during football season can be ridiculous. Foods that are abundant in niacin (animal liver, eggs, cheese) and spicy foods boost blood circulation thereby keeping your body warm.
Be somewhat familiar. This is not to discourage you from indulging in exotic/foreign cuisine, but as any parent of finicky children can tell you, "it doesn't matter what it is if they don't eat it."
Be affordable. If money was no object then we'd all be dining on Kobe steak and lobster tails.
And should not:
Be raw or uncooked.
Be served cold.
Require anything other than plastic utensils to eat.
Tailgating can be fun but stressful. And if the old adage, "you are what you eat" is true then the tailgate food that you eat or serve can make a difference.