Food, family, and football – they just seem to go together.
One of the best ways in which this is demonstrated is through tailgating. After all, what’s better than getting ready for the big game when you have family and friends around and lots of good food to eat?
Tailgating is a big business. In fact, it’s a $20 billion per year industry.
Traditionally, tailgating is most associated with American football. On Sundays, not a single NFL stadium in America exists where parking lots aren’t teeming with food and pigskin enthusiasts, chowing down and cooking up a storm to get ready for 60 minutes of gridiron action.
But to say that tailgating is only done for American football is wildly off-based, particularly in comparison to soccer fans. In fact, tailgating may be more associated with soccer globally, given that it’s the most popular sport in the world.
At any rate, though the NFL may be out of season, the MLS is back in season, and there are sure to be thousands of people in Toyota Stadium-area parking lots in the coming months tailgating for what promises to be a competitive year.
The key to a good tailgating bash is preparation. If you’re planning on making a game or two this year and want to take part in some tailgating festivities, these tips should help get things sizzling.
Arrive with plenty of time to prepare
As the old saying goes, the early bird really does get the worm. Tailgating veterans say that you definitely want to show up for the game several hours early, seeing as how it can take up to an hour to set everything up, like the hibachi, range, portable stove, and tent to cook under. Considering the parking lot opens 2.5 hours before kickoff, you’ll have plenty of time to eat, drink, and celebrate the start – or finish – of the soccer season. It’s a good idea to check with FC Dallas to find out when the stadium parking lot opens, though, as this is subject to change. This will help you determine the best time for you and your attendees.
Marinate meats night before
If there’s anything that Texas is known for, it’s the quality of its meat products. After all, there are several franchise restaurants with Texas-inspired names. Whatever meat you’ll be serving, few can argue that it’s more flavorful after marinating. The tenderization process takes time, though, so be sure to marinate your steak tips or shish kabob selections the night before the game. There are thousands of marinade recipes you can find online if you’re interested in a bold or mild taste. For some ideas – and for a truly Texan take on your tailgating food – check out the Homesick Texan blog. From jalapeno egg salad to seven-chile chili, here you can find recipes for traditional Texas fare that you can adapt for the perfect tailgate.
Pack all utensil essentials … plus a few more
You may be surprised by how many utensils you use while tailgating. There’s the tongs, spatulas, bottle openers, can openers, temperature gauge, skewers, basting brush, pot holders … you get the idea.
A great way to keep them all packed in one place is by clearing out a tackle box or tool box. After you’ve cleaned them, you can then keep them all in your car so that you’re never missing anything.
Be a smart cooler packer
On a hot summer day, which Texas is known for, an ice cold drink can really hit the spot. And this rule certainly holds true with tailgating. To make sure your drinks stay cold, though, you’ll want to maximize your cooler’s ability to keep things chilled.
After filling the bottom with ice or ice packs, line the bottom with your drinks. Then, put all your packaged meats, vegetables, and fruits on top, which will help keep the foods cold.
Don’t forget your cleaning supplies
Finger foods are the name of the game when you’re tailgating, foods that tend to be on the messier side like barbecue chicken wings, buffalo wings, tender hamburgers, and fully loaded hot dogs. Make sure you bring a couple rolls of paper towels, and throw in some moist toilettes while you’re at it. Some hand disinfectant like Purel is good to have readily available as well.
Whatever happens in the actual soccer match, following these tailgating tips are sure to make your entertaining game plan a surefire winner.