The Off-Season: What’s Cooking?
By Tim Kabel
January 8, 2022
When you go to a game in a Major League stadium, and in particular, your team’s stadium, there is much more to it than just the game. It is an event. It is an experience for all your senses. There are the sounds, sights, smells and tastes that come with a ballgame. As you walk to the stadium, you can smell the popcorn, peanuts, pretzels and hot dogs being cooked by the outside vendors. You can hear the guy in the tunnel who plays the recorder poorly, but well enough to have people throw money in his hat. It is a wonderful time. Part of the fun of going to a game is absorbing all of these sensory experiences. I can’t think of many people who would go to a ball game and deprive themselves of all sustenance. I don’t think I’d want to know such a person. One of the big questions you have when you go to a ball game is “What am I going to eat?”
Over 30 years ago, I took my friend Bill to a Yankees’ game. Bill it is from California and attended Berkeley in the 70’s. However, Bill was a member of the marching band at Berkeley. Bill is rather unique. He’s also a professor of British History. We went to a concession stand. I asked Bill what he wanted. Bill squinted at the sign that offered hot dogs or sausages and little else. When it was our turn, Bill gleefully requested a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread. A hush fell over the area immediately adjacent to the stand. People began staring at Bill, and by extension, me and mumbling under their breath. I quickly advised Bill that it was unlikely he could get a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread in Yankee Stadium. He immediately switched gears and ate a hotdog.
Today, there is a vast array of culinary options at Yankee Stadium. The food court and the multiple stands that fill the stadium offer a myriad of choices. I still don’t think you could get a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread. But you can get just about anything else: pizza, hamburgers, pulled pork, sliced London broil, chicken fingers, fried chicken, sushi, and salads. The days of hot dogs, sausages and little else are long gone. Variety abounds.
A few days ago, I asked the readers if they could only watch one more Yankees’ game, which announcers would they select to broadcast it. I’m enjoying this theme of audience participation. Together, we will get through this lockout. For today, this is the question: if you were going to Yankee Stadium for a game and knew it would be the last game you would ever attend, what would you eat and drink? Let me lay out the ground rules. 1)There are no wrong answers. This is about having fun and making choices. 2) Money is no object. I know it seems that sometimes you have to take out a second mortgage to buy a family of four food at a game. For the purposes of today’s exercise, you have an unlimited budget. You can be like Templeton the rat at the fair in Charlotte’s Web. At this point, hopefully you are hearing a duet of “A Fair is a Veritable Smorgasbord” sung by the late, great Paul Lynde and Agnes Moorehead. You can have as much as you want. You can eat yourself into a coma if you so choose. No one will judge you.
I know there are some readers who will lament the fact that they can’t use analytics in this exercise. Prof Robert will still find a way to use WAR (Wieners and Relish). Will you be traditional in your choices, or modern? You could probably have a goat cheese pizza with caramelized onions if you wanted to. You could have some craft micro brewed beer if you so choose.
As usual, I will go first. I have become very fond of the London broil sandwiches offered at the stadium. Sometimes I join my son in having a pulled pork sandwich. However, if I knew this was going to be my last game ever, I would go back to my roots. I would have a sausage and peppers grinder with mustard. There’s something about a perfectly grilled Italian sausage slathered in mustard and buried in a mountain of red and green peppers and onions. A roll that is just crispy enough on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside complements it perfectly. There was a time when I could easily eat two of them at a game. Sometimes, I would have a sausage and peppers grinder and then later, a hot dog. I generally had my hotdog with just mustard. I have never been a fan of sauerkraut, although I like it more now than I used to.
So, at my final game, I would have a sausage and peppers grinder. For my drink, I would not have beer. I only like dark beer to begin with and although I know you could get it there, I don’t like to drink beer when I’m outside on a warm day. I’ve never been a big soda drinker either. In recent years, I have become a fan of the freshly squeezed lemonade they sell at the stadium. They use this rather medieval looking contraption to pulverize lemons and rob them of all their juice. They then throw the lemon carcass into your cup so that you can get every last drop out of that lemon.
These days, I would be full after the hot dog and the lemonade. Later, I would go for something sweet. However, the thought of a hot pretzel with mustard is intriguing as is the option of peanuts or Cracker Jacks. I might go for one of those three if it was a long game. But I would definitely save room for the soft ice cream served in the miniature Yankees’ helmet. I would have the swirl option of chocolate and vanilla and I would eschew sprinkles. Naturally, I would bring the little helmet home so I could enjoy my ice cream there in the little helmet whenever I so chose. Those are my choices. As I said, I have had some of the newer, fancier sandwiches but, the idea of this being my final game would lead me back to where I started. I’m sure that will not be everyone’s choice. My friend Roger would have caviar on toast points followed by a steak sandwich with Grey Poupon mustard. He would wash it all down with a Gibson, complete with a pickled onion. It would be like going to a game with a modern-day version of Thurston Howell the Third.
Again, I want audience participation. Tell me what you would have. There are no right or wrong answers. If you want a beer or two, that’s fine. If I were to have an adult beverage instead of the lemonade, I would choose a hard cider. Since it would be my last game, I would probably have one of each. So, think about the last time you went to the stadium and all the food options you saw, whether or not you sampled them. Let us know what you would choose for your last meal at the stadium. Have some fun with it. During this lockout, fun is about as hard to come by as a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread was at Yankee Stadium 32 years ago.