All sporting events have one thing in common: the food. Portable, messy, expensive, calorie-laden guy food. Hot dogs. Brats. Chili cheese fries. Popcorn. Nachos. Turkey legs.
But when I tagged along to an Indy race last weekend, I got to see firsthand how sports food is changing.
My first clue was the variety of food stands. Oh, sure, we were warned going in that most people tailgate because â€˜Inside, you’ll find an $8 beer and a $4 hot dog.â€™ But we also found some unusual choices.
A Tex-Mex stand with a massive taco salad. A Philly cheese steak that looked reasonably authentic (although Geno’s and Pat’s have nothing to worry about). Chicken strips that were rumored to be the best thing going. Upscale blue cheese burgers. Toasted ravioli and â€“ get this â€“ chicken spiedini. There was also a Hayward’s BBQ stand serving burnt ends and rib dinners, complete with potato salad and baked beans.
The usual comments were overheard, such as â€˜Five bucks for a slice of pizza?? I don’t think so!â€™ And, my favorite, â€˜What the heck is a spiedini?â€™ But the prices were, overall, not out of line with any business lunch and the variety was a notch or two up from expectations.
My primary motivation in going was to emotionally support Danica Patrick, who was just coming off her first Indy-series win from a race in Japan. As the first woman to win an Indy-series race, she is obviously inspiring a whole new generation of sporting fans â€“ her face was on the majority of sweatshirts and the cheers for her car were among the loudest. Unfortunately, while she was in the top 10 of the day’s racers, something malfunctioned on a rear axle and the pit crew wasn’t able to save the day, pulling her out of the race with just 50 laps to go.
If it had been me, I would have headed straight for the DoveÂ® Bar stand.