Whether you arrive at a game by private railway car or airplane, like some of the people on the opposite page, or by automobile (right), a lot of the fun of a football weekend comes before the whistle blows. This is particularly true if the game is preceded by an on-the-scene picnic luncheon, served buffet style from a station-wagon tail gate. The spreading popularity of the tail gate picnic presents a challenge to the football hostess, since there is real rivalry to see whose buffet will display the most tasty, and perhaps unexpected, morsels. While your friends are exclaiming with delight over your ingenuity in dreaming up a make-your-own-hero-sandwich deal, those lunching at the tail gate next door may be singing the praises of hot onion soup complete with toasted French bread and freshly grated Parmesan.
Because it's smart to be smart about this pre-football-game ritual, I have planned five possible luncheons to be served from the tail gate. A major requirement for such picnicking is proper equipment—portable ice chests, picnic baskets, fitted or unfitted, thermoses for food and/or drink, even portable bars. Since you usually will serve drinks before lunch, you should provide a few "blotters" to go with them—potato chips, corn chips, deviled eggs, firm cheeses cut into chunks, canned French fried onions, or if you want to be very grand—frozen canapés, which will defrost on the way to the game. Thermoses of coffee should be taken to every game, though I've mentioned coffee in my menus only when it is a special kind. Swedish glogg and mulled wine are other hot drink possibilities for the thermos—very cockle-warming, too.
HOW TO PACK A HEARTY LUNCH
1 YOUR OWN HEROES
For this picnic take for each person a small loaf of French bread, split lengthwise and buttered. The brown-and-serve variety is fine, especially if you bake it early the morning of the game. Also take sliced Italian salami, sliced Swiss cheese, blue cheese, dill pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, some tins of sardines, a jar of mayonnaise, chili sauce and two or three kinds of mustard—such as English, Bahamian and the ordinary variety. Let everybody make his own combination—the works if he wants it! Beer goes awfully well with this sort of food, if you have a chiller to carry it in. For dessert produce big bunches of grapes in a basket and cookies of the least crumbly variety you know. The best way to achieve this requirement is to buy the finest that come boxed. This meal will be well and warmly topped off by a picnic version of Irish coffee. Heat very strong coffee to piping. Pour in heavy cream (not whipped) and Irish whiskey to taste and let all become very hot, but do not boil. Sweeten slightly if you want to and pour into preheated thermos. For hot drinks take cups which will hold the heat, whether paper, metal or plastic.
2 PORTABLE SMORGASBORD
If you'd like a hot pre-picnic drink, this time take Swedish glogg in the thermos. Claret and port are simmered with spices, almonds and raisins, lump sugar to taste is melted with flaming brandy, and a delicious drink is the result. Start the lunch with hot bouillon, diluted with port wine instead of water. Nobody will be cold with that inside him! Then have your smorgasbord course, involving any or all of the following: in tins or jars—herring in wine and/or sour cream, anchovies, pickled beets, paté; in separate containers—noekkelost (Norwegian caraway cheese), hard-cooked eggs, cold shrimp (which you have cooked with dill in the water), mayonnaise mixed with sour cream to dunk the shrimp in, cold lamb and/or duck, headcheese. Take along also a variety of salad greens, washed and wrapped for the chiller, together with some French dressing in a bottle to pour over them, and a wooden salad bowl with fork and spoon to toss them at the last minute. It is necessary to have plates to cope with this picnic properly. A variety of Swedish crisp wafers and butter to put on them goes well with this meal. A frozen Sara Lee poundcake, which will defrost on the way, and seasonal crisp apples make an easily handled, delicious dessert.
3 ITALIAN ANTIPASTO
Provide Italian sausages in variety, provolone cheese, well-chilled raw vegetables, black olives, stuffed olives, pimientos, vinegar peppers and artichoke hearts—the last five in jars, so be sure to pack a lid flipper. A big round loaf of Italian dark bread with butter is perfect with such food. A bottle of Chianti is a good touch, too. For dessert bring Motta's panettone in the box you buy it in. Nothing could be better with it than cafe" diable from the new Gourmet line of General Foods. Make it according to instructions on the tin and flame it with brandy just before pouring it into a preheated thermos bottle, perhaps one with a convenient spigot like that shown at left.
4 A STEW IN A THERMOS
A big, wide-mouthed thermos jug is essential for this picnic. Preheat it by filling it with boiling water. Then into it put a good, rich beef stew, made with red wine and vegetables. Potatoes get discolored and soggy in such a stew, so the best way I know to take care of the starch department is to put canned kidney beans, together with all their juice, into the stew just long enough to heat them through. They give an unusual and delectable flavor to the gravy and blend beautifully with the green beans, peas, carrots or whatever other vegetables suit your fancy. Then—hold your hat—take a container of chilled sour cream along to plop on top of each serving. It's out-of-this-world good. Croissants from the best bakery you know—and butter—make a fine accompaniment to the stew. For dessert make angel cake, the best of the mixes, which is easy to transport to the game and also to eat from the hand.
5 DRESSED-UP CHICKEN
Fry or broil chicken the day before and chill it thoroughly. Or use frozen fried chicken, which is a great time-and trouble-saver. Wrap each piece separately—which makes them easier to handle and also makes it simple to choose one's favorite piece from the shape. In some of your picnic boxes bring coleslaw made from both red and white cabbage and some cold curried rice, which you make by cooking rice with quite a lot of curry powder in the water. A bottle of Major Grey's chutney (a variety, not a brand) is a must with this rice. Bread and butter sandwiches are a nice accompaniment. For dessert, what could be better than those fine, firm, green-skinned pears which are coming into the market just about now and a Bel Paese cheese to eat with them? A dry white wine would be lovely with this meal, chilled in the cooler if the day isn't cold enough to do the job.
PREGAME LUNCHEONS are a tradition in the East, where groups rendezvous for spreads as simple as the one at the Yale Bowl (above), or as sumptuous as the one shown below.
ENGLISH HAMPER serves four ($40, Bloomingdale's); six-quart Therm-A-Jug has shut-off spigot ($17, Knapp-Monarch); four-gallon Skotch Kooler comes with Ivy League covers ($13.50, Lord & Taylor); plastic containers fill the gaps (27¢ to 84¢, Macy's).
LEATHER BAR CASE takes four bottles ($95, Abercrombie & Fitch); wicker basket ($5, Bloomingdale's) holds service for four ($5, Leipzig & Lippe); gallon jug holds food or liquid (Stanley, $18); Skotch O'matic has built-in pump ($8, Hamilton-Skotch).
THERM-A-CHEST of heavy-gauge steel weighs 26 pounds ($25, Knapp-Monarch); wicker picnic basket ($5.49, Macy's) has lined aluminum butter dish ($1.50, Abercrombie & Fitch); Skotch O'matic Low Boy thermos holds a gallon ($12, Hamilton-Skotch).
WICKER BASKET from England has plastic service for six, tray for thermoses and boxes ($165, Saks Fifth Avenue); Sportsmaster thermos has locked spigot, folding leg ($7, Macy's); aluminum Thermaster Ice Chest holds 26 12-ounce bottles ($19, Poloron).
STRIPED DUFFEL cooler keeps food hot or cold ($5, Nappe-Smith); woven oak basket has dishes for six ($10, Leipzig & Lippe); Re-Fridgit is frozen overnight, keeps things cold 24 hours (92¢, Macy's); wicker basket holds four bottles ($10.50, Bloomingdale's).