Saturday, August 20, 2005

Man Food

In honor of the 2005 football season starting up I'm going to relate a gastronomic adventure I experienced at the last home game of 2004.

The scene is parking lot 11, a dirt field directly across the street from Gillete Stadium in Foxboro MA. Thousands of hardy football fans are braving the cold January wind to partake in the traditions and fellowship of the pre-game tailgate. Nestled in among the throng, huddled behind some tarps, my friends and I warm ourselves over a propane heater and prepare for the day.

Football games are always an excuse to eat and drink, but seeing as this was playoff football over indulgence was a mandate. And we had come prepared. On the menu:

Scallops wrapped in bacon.

Boneless leg of lamb, stuck with slices of garlic and marinated in a red wine and Dijon mustard with sprigs of rosemary and red onion.

Steak Tips marinated in soy, teriyaki, and Italian dressing

Itallian Sausage with onions and peppers.

And to wash it all down plenty of cold beer and Jagermeister.

I'll grant you, taken individually, there's not much adventure in this menu. These items can be found at many a Sunday barbeque. The gastronomic adventure started as we began to cook.

First onto the grill was our appetizer: scallops wrapped in bacon. I had suggested to Ricky, my brother in-law with whom I share my season tickets, that he pre-cook the scallops so we wouldn't have to deal with all the bacon grease on the grill. He had no interest in doing that so I suggested he at least bring a pan to catch the grease. (Previous experience with a grill fire and a burning propane tanks made me a tad cautious).

Once the scallops where done, onto the grill went the lamb. While the lamb was sizzling away, the pan containing the scallops passed around a few times as hungry men snatched the toothpick speared bites. Unfortunately, given the cold and the wind, the scallops started to get cold quickly. In a stroke of brilliance Ricky placed the tinfoil pan containing the scallops atop the propane heater in the center of the tent thus keeping the bacon fat and the scallops nice and warm.

We don't generally worry too much about plates and utensils at a game. We just cut up the food into finger size bites and pass a plate around. So when the lamb was ready that's what I did. People were pretty content after having devoured the scallops so the lamb lingered on the plate and started to get cold. Ricky, in a second stroke of brilliance (note: this is now more brilliance than Ricky displays in a typical year), sees the lamb getting cold and dumps the whole tray into the warm bacon grease at the center of our gathering.

If you've never eaten grilled marinated lamb chunks, dipped in bacon grease, with you fingers on a cold day in January and chased it down with a half frozen beer, you've not lived. This was MAN food. I can't imagine Mammoth hunters celebrating a recent kill or a band of Vikings sharing Mead and Venison after pillaging a village enjoyed their meals any more than us.

After the lamb, the teriyaki tips and the sausage, onions and peppers all entered the bacon bath. Heart risk aside, this was the best feast of the season and a fitting end to a great tailgating year.

Go Patriots in 2005!

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