Updated: Jul 31
Americans are very loyal to their sport teams. They are also very loyal to drinking, and when you add the two together, often in a car park, you have the great American tailgate party.
Traditionally, fans park at a sporting event, open the boots of their cars, and have a barbecue. They eat charred meat and drink copious amounts of alcohol, using game time for sobering up before the drive home. For my South African friends, we can call this a pre-rugby braai on the go. for my English friends, it's an Ascot picnic without the fruit, champagne, horses, and hats.
There is a wide varietal of tailgating standards. While in the Pittsburgh, I saw two Pirate fans tailgating under a tree in a parking lot a mile away from Heinz Field. This is an economical way to tailgate.
Mid-range, and most popular tailgating involves driving to and parking in a busy lot, for a big game, and inevitably forgetting the bottle opener.
Top-end tailgating is a backyard bbq in the resident's hall at a posh private university in, lets say, Boston. This option comes without the need to drive, park, or leave the game in heavy traffic. Occasionally, this option comes without having to attend the game at all.
According to Wikipedia, another form of tailgating is the 'Nomadic Tailgater'. This is for the sad and unenviable person who has too many friends and has too many parties to attend. They simply put their Red Cup, and hopefully a bottle opener, into a backpack, and roam.
Food of choice is any type of meat that can be grilled. Hamburgers, hotdogs, and sausages of all types and sizes are the fare of the day. Macaroni and potato salads are acceptable, but don't dare present a vegetable tray at your tailgate.
Beer (and maybe a little Jack) is the most-consumed beverage. But at a recently attended 'Tailgating Option Number Three' (erm, posh party), mimosas and sangria were on tap.
Backyard games are often played, with 'corn-holing' very popular. I thought this was a dirty joke from Beavis and Butthead, until I looked it up. Truth.
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