Tuesday, July 16, 2013


A New Season of Kickoff Feasts

By Doc Lawrence

ATHENS, GA- Like all college towns, everything is quiet at the moment, a brief  Dog Days interlude before the start of college football, just beyond the horizon. When the first home game in the Classic City begins, many thousands will be satisfied with the delights from the pre-game tailgating, great food increasingly as creative as many of the items on top restaurant menus, all served with ample portions of wine, cocktails, beer, sweet iced tea and goodwill.

Frank Spence, a former Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons top executive is a familiar face here and occupies the lofty position of being the unofficial historian for the tailgating nation. Franks story is even more compelling because it ties in the Civil War Sesquicentennial. “Tailgating here is a hallowed culinary ritual,” according to Mr. Spence,  “ it’s core heritage, vital bedrock and a high-octane picnic as Deep South as grits with red-eye gravy.”

Frank Spence believes that the 1861 “Great Skeedadle” and the law of unintended consequences launched the first tailgating party. A native of Nashville, Spence was referring to the Union Army retr
eat after the first battle of Manassas. “Congressmen, accompanied by beautiful women, set up colorful tents for a fancy hillside picnic to view the assumed quick destruction of the fledgling Confederate Army. Unaware of the looming defeat, party wagons-forerunners of today’s caterers- arrived loaded with picnic baskets filled with fancy food, and cases of expensive French Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. Reacting to the sudden bad turn of events, lawmakers and their ladies fled back to Washington’s fortified safety, abandoning the unpacked goodies. Exhausted Southern soldiers
removed the food and wine from the rear of the wagons and celebrated, going home after the war to share the amazing memories.”

Thus, says the ebullient Mr. Spence, tailgating was born.

Last year. among the wonderful tailgating recipes we found, Josh Butler, Florida’s “Top Chef” under three governors, had the winner in his “Dog Island Grouper Burger.” The search has already started for dishes with this much imagination, local connections and flavors. The local features are impressive: Dog Island is a short distance from FSU’s stadium, Butler
is a home grown chef who serves what he prepares to tailgaters and dish includes local ingredients with everything prepared just before kickoff.

I’ll start the new season at Tuscaloosa, Athens, Tallahassee, Clemson and Knoxville. That’s just the beginning. It’s a long way from August to the bowl games of December and January.

As in past years, appropriate wines and cocktail recipes will be showcased.

All recipes are welcome. If you have photos of people enjoying the feast, send them and we’ll use them. editors@docsnews.com .

May your team go undefeated in 2013!

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