out of The Grove and into the stands before the game starts. The stadium sort of fills up during the first quarter. I’ve always been a firm believer that, in Oxford, we spend too much time focused on the party and not enough time focused on the game. I’m way too competitive to really enjoyThe Grove, because all I’m doing is thinking about the game. It’s not a social event, for me. All I do is talk about the game. I think about it like that scene in Braveheart , where they’re feasting before the battle.I’m like, “We’ve got to put on our battle gear.This isn’t about smiling and being nice.We’ve got to fill our hearts with hate for the next three hours.” Do you like to cook on gameday? I’ve traditionally been more of a guest. I’ve been involved in a couple of tent groups in the past, but I work the mornings of football games, so it’s tough to do that and be a host
in a tent. I make it to every game, so I need to allow for that. Over the years, we’ve started doing informal porch parties with our close friends and neighbors. If folks want to stop by, great.They can stop by and have a drink, grab something to eat, and then we lock the house and go to the game,and worry about everything else later. Given a choice, do you cook fancy or simple? I tried to approach it as a chef early on, but I realized that people want what people want, and they want it simple. People want pimiento cheese, and they want fried chicken tenders, and they want seven-layer dip. There are a couple of nontraditional things folks like. My mom used to make sausage balls. You know, biscuit mix and sausage and cheese that you bake. We quite literally can’t make ’em fast enough. People love
the muffalettas. We do a roasted pork loin slider that’s just roasted sliced pork with caramelized onions, and they just fly out the door. But for the most part, it’s “chicken tenders, chicken tenders, chicken tenders.” What would you cook for a porch party at your house? I love jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo, grillades & grits. All those simple things that will stick to your ribs, fill you up. You can just grab a bowl, eat with just a spoon in your hand. The beautiful thing about tailgating is, it ends up being a potluck and people develop their own crowd favorites, and that’s what they bring to the table. I cook red beans & rice for everything. The other night, someone asked me “What’s your favorite thing to eat?” I was like, “It’s my favorite thing to cook, too. Red beans & rice.” I mean, it’s just that simple.
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