Game Day. Every single one brings emotions that warm the soul like any holiday in Baton Rouge. The scents of browning roux, whiskey on ice, and smoldering pecan branches combine into an aroma that permeates LSU’s campus. Under live oak trees and on the front steps of academic buildings, the space surrounding Tiger Stadium fills with purple- and gold-clad fans ready to celebrate the ritualistic football game. People who aren’t from here sometimes wonder what they’re getting themselves into. They don’t understand the magnitude of sprawling tailgate parties that await their visit. The events of a Game Day start at the break of dawn and last late past the setting sun. After all, Saturday Night is for watching the Tigers win in Death Valley, but Saturday day is for the greatest tailgating spectacle known to man. Here’s a typical day in my tailgating world:
6:30 AM – Arrive on campus. Fix a Bloody Mary before doing any other work. Or I might opt for a Wakey Whiskey. It’s not drinking all day unless I start in the morning.
7:00 AM – Set up tents, tables, chairs, cooking equipment, music, TVs, ice chests, and more. Then crack open a beer. I’ve earned it.
8:00 AM – Time to prep some food. Rub some ribs and pork shoulders, stuff some jalapenos and wrap them in bacon, shuck some corn to make a maque choux, and get that roux going in the cast iron pot. Once I’ve created fire for the smoker and the propane burners, the next step is to crack open another local craft beer. I can’t light a fire without a beer. That’s a rule.
8:30 AM – Meats are smoking and pots are simmering, but people are starting to get hungry. Time for a tailgate breakfast. Ziploc omelets and bacon. Always bacon. And perhaps a shot of bourbon.
9:30 AM – Everyone is full from the delicious breakfast, so I can get back to the situation at hand. The gumbo won’t make itself, nor will the beer itself drink.
10:30 AM – I notice some ladies walking by in purple and gold sundresses. I toast a friend. Life is good.
12:00 PM – The ribs have been on for almost four hours and people are getting hungry again. I baste them with Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and finish them on the grill. The corn maque choux and other side items are ready to go as well. Lunch is served, gumbo and all. While people serve themselves, I grab another Tin Roof Juke Joint IPA out of the ice chest.
1:00 PM – Campus is really starting to heat up. Commotion, combustion, and coeds abound. I go for a walk with a fresh brew in my hand. The entire campus is worth checking out, and I’m isolated in one spot while I cook.
1:05 PM – I’ve already seen six pots of jambalaya, four whole pigs roasting, two multi-person beer funnels, and one roasting alligator on a rotisserie.
1:25 PM – I finish my walking beer but thankfully find a friendly tailgate party that wants to feed me and supply me with refreshments. I love Tiger hospitality.
2:45 PM – I wander back to my home base tailgate party. Most of the food I’ve left out is gone and more people have arrived. I throw some stuffed jalapenos on the grill along with some citrus-brined chicken.
4:00 PM – The pork shoulders have been smoking for eight hours, so I pull them out and get ready to serve some pulled pork sliders with my own Creole slaw. Some patrons have moved into position to watch the Golden Band from Tiger Land march down the hill. I just drink another beer.
5:00 PM – My cooking is finished. But with a 6:30 PM kick-off, that’s a good thing. Fans are starting to head to the stadium. It is time for me to clean up, pack up, chug a bottle of water, then make that empty bottle into a whiskey flask.
6:00 PM – I head to the stadium with some great friends. We’re on our way to see the Tigers Play.
Editor’s Note: Jay Ducote eats and drinks for a living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and everywhere he travels. He writes the blog biteandbooze.com, hosts the Taste Award winning Bite and Booze Radio Show, and has his own Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce.