Tailgating in Paradise

Orange Bowl stadium, “Home of the Hurricanes,” – Miami, Florida. Not after 1946. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Fall is here and football season has kicked off for Dolphins and Hurricanes fans in South Florida. Every season brings back fierce rivalries among otherwise the closest of friends, lucky laundry that absolutely can’t get washed during winning streaks, and perhaps most importantly, a passion for going all out when tailgating before games.

Tailgating is a common thread among football fans around the country, it brings together family, friends, and rivals before every game in ways a pre-game meal at a casual restaurant can’t. People who are passionate about food and hospitality generally make the best tailgaters, as they know how to pull out all the stops for their guests to enjoy. It’s a good idea to make friends with someone who runs a great tailgate.

Cover: Sports Illustrated – 1984 College & Pro Football Special

Miamians tend to get a bad rap as fair-weather sports fans around the country, but we can always tailgate with the best of them. Hey, we’re a party town after all. And don’t forget, the city of Miami has hosted 10 Super Bowls, is home to the undefeated 1972 Dolphins, and The U has won 5 National Championships with some of the most memorable college football teams of all time. Few cities can go toe-to-toe and match Miami in football history and lore.

Obviously, Miami didn’t invent tailgating, the concept of tailgating predates the city entirely. There are a few theories out there, but one thing everyone can agree on is that its roots are reminiscent of harvest festivals, a time to reap and celebrate fall’s bounty, one last hurrah before the harsh winter.

Many historians point to the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. The tale goes… Civilians traveled from DC to Manassas, Virginia to cheer and watch their team in battle. Less bloody are the tales of early tailgating at historic games like the first college football game between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869.

Flickr: Phil Oglesby

Tailgating has long since evolved both in food tastes and in technology, where the best tailgates nowadays incorporate modern amenities. More people will definitely show up to your tailgate if it has a giant grill, satellite TV and Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, and most importantly in Miami: shade!

Even so, fans of Miami’s longest running team, the Hurricanes, have decades of tailgating history behind them. A testament to this is the spiral-bound cookbook dedicated to the topic- Picnics in Paradise: A Recipe Guide to Miami Hurricane Tailgating (Owl Bay Publishers – Montgomery, Alabama).



Looking back through these recipes from 1994, items like Stuffed Eggs, Pepper Pecan Sandwich Spread, and Cold Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce feel very dated. But, there are definitely some staples in the cookbook that fit in with modern-day festivities.

Here are my favorite vintage recipes from the cookbook that you can prepare for any tailgate this season while getting ready to watch the Dolphins or Hurricanes in Miami:



2 bottles dry white wine
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup triple sec
1 cup vodka
1 qt. bottle club soda
1 orange, 2 lemons, 1 lime

Place fruit (sliced thinly with seeds removed) and triple sec in glass jar and refrigerate along with wine and club soda overnight. In serving container serve over lemonade ice ring or ice cubes made out of lemonade.


Chicken Wings

8 chicken wings (or legs)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp ginger powder
1 garlic clove, pressed
3 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp paprika

Oil a 13″-by-9″ baking dish. Rinse chicken thoroughly. Mix the juices and pour over the chicken. Mix the herbs and spices together and sprinkle over the chicken. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes; remove foil and bake 20 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate or freeze until ready to pack.



2 large ripe avocados, peeled and chopped
6 green onions, with part of green chopped off
4 oz can chili peppers, chopped (optional)
1/2 lemon, juice only
Salt & pepper
1 tomato, chopped

In processor purée avocados. Stir in other ingredients except tomatoes. Put avocado pit in guacamole and chill in plastic covered container. At serving time, stir in tomato and serve with corn chips. If you don’t use peppers, flavor with a few drops of Tabasco sauce.



1 medium cabbage, grated

1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp dry mustard
celery seed
ground black pepper & salt

Bring the above to a boil, remove from heat and let cool. Pour over the cabbage mixture and let stand overnight in tightly sealed container.


Whatever you decide to prepare for a tailgate, the key is to make something simple. Is the food easy to transport? Can it be consumed hot or cold? Can you eat it with your hands? Will it leave your Dolphins or Canes jersey spotless? Simplifying the answers to these questions will help you make a successful dish at your next tailgate. And whether Miami wins or loses, you’ll at least have a good time before the game.

Flickr: Oregon Printing Communications

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