Somebody asked me to bring a side dish to a tailgate party today.
A side dish? Me?
I'm used to providing the main dish. You know, the ribs, butts, brisket and sausage.
When I think of side dishes, I think of vegetables.
Vegetables are good. I like vegetables, especially root vegetables and greens. In last week's Chatter column, one of our reporters made fun of me for eating at Country Life and saying I liked it. I wasn't pretending. I did like it, once I figured out that I should stick to the fresh salad bar items and shun the fake stuff like the fake cheese and the fake ranch dressing and the fake chili dog.
Especially the fake chili dog.
But vegetables of any kind don't belong at a tailgate party.
That's just my opinion. You can't hold a cold beverage in one hand and a serving of creamed corn in the other. At least, you'd have to put one down to enjoy the other. But you can hold a cold beverage in one hand and, say, a sparerib in the other.
Oh yes you can.
In my book, the only acceptable tailgate vegetables are not really vegetables. There's a meat-and-three joint in Tennessee that actually lists devilled eggs as a vegetable. My kind of vegetable. In other diners, I've seen menus that classify cornbread dressing and potato salad as vegetables.
Correction: Potatoes grow in the ground, so they really are vegetables, right?
My favorite side dish story involves my youngest son, Joe. We share a birthday, and when he turned 5 (and I turned 39) Bess brought him downtown so we could eat fried chicken at Minnie's. The other kids were of school age, and Joe didn't mind. When it was his time to order, he stepped up and did a nice job, unfazed that a grown woman had just called him Honey-Baby-Sweet Thing.
He got the fried chicken (white meat) and then for his first side dish he went with mac and cheese. That was a no-brainer. And then for his second side, he chose
Joe stared at all the sides.
"What's your second side, Darling-Precious-Sugar Pie," the lady with the giant spoon said.
Joe stared at all the sides. He looked at the lady. He stared at all the sides. He looked at the lady.
"Green beans," he said.
At the table, Joe demolished his chicken and the mac and cheese. He drained his sweet tea.
Then he pushed back from the table, leaving only the bowl of green beans, untouched and floating in green-bean juice.
"Joe, why did you order green beans if you weren't going to eat them?" Bess asked.
"Who said I was going to eat them?" Joe answered. "The lady made me choose another thing."
That's when I said something that I immediately wished I could have taken back. It may one day land him in therapy.
"You could have gotten a double order of mac and cheese," I said.
Joe looked at me in horror. I can tell you, he'll never make that mistake again. But his childhood was over.
Which brings me back to today's dilemma. Yes, mac and cheese would be a fine choice, but I think I'll go with chicken wings. You can serve a meat as a side dish if it's smaller than the meat you're serving as the main dish.
I just made that up, but I doubt if anybody calls a personal foul. No pun intended.
So happy Saturday, everybody. May your team win today, unless your team is playing my team.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.