Your gameday menu can make or break a top-notch tailgate in the Grove. Whether you order catering, prepare the whole thing yourself or are tasked with bringing one or two potluck dishes, there are a few unspoken rules to follow:
- Keep it functional (a.k.a. handheld).
- Keep it seasonal (no one wants your pot of chili in September).
- Don’t expose your guests to food poisoning.
Also, steer clear of this highly subjective list:
Don't get me wrong. Deviled eggs are delicious. I could eat those suckers all day on a chilled platter in a climate-controlled environment. But they’re the last thing I want at my tailgate. For one thing, most of football season is too damn hot for decoratively whipped egg embryos to sit out for any reason. But ultimately, I didn’t just walk my ass two miles from my car to the Grove in a pair of heels to get salmonella poisoning because you want to be fancy. Enough.
Look, these things are great for, like, a wine and cheese party or a holiday dinner, but how many people do you know that can carefully select vegetables and various cheeses while heavily imbibed without touching LITERALLY everything else on the platter? By the end of the day, that seasonal array of good intentions is nothing but a tray of germs and regret. And let’s not even talk about the perils of communal ranch dip. USE A DAMN SPOON, YOU ANIMALS.
Mini Puff Pastry Bites
I get it. The art of the tailgate is all about presentation, and when you’re short on time and need a Pinterest-worthy dish, it’s REAL easy to whip up something random as hell and plop it on/in/around a puff pastry shell and look like you’ve got your shit together. As a mom who once passed off store-bought cupcakes as homemade to my kid’s class by messing up the frosting a little and complaining about being up all night baking (a.k.a. watching Bloodline), who am I to deny you that joy?
My point is foods that are 95 percent pastry crust and 5 percent filling are gross. Don’t do it.
This is not the place. That goes for kale chips, too. Stop it.
A Bowl of Party Mix
It’s a classic choice to make your spread seem fuller and give guests something to snack on while sipping cocktails, but all I can think of when I see party mix bowls is how many people have slipped in and out of the Hotty Toddy Potty with unwashed hands (don’t even act like I didn’t literally just describe 90 percent of y’all) and into your tent to grab a handful of whatever’s-in-that-bowl. Gross.