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The most important aspect of watching a game.
I got a bunch of good questions this week, but I wrote so much about one topic that I’m going to save the others for another mailbag down the road.
@JonJankowskiTV: What’s the best food plan during an Eagles game?
There are levels to this.
SOOOO many variables.
Some huge factors:
Where are you watching the game?
Who are you watching the game with?
Who are the Eagles playing?
What time/day are the Eagles playing?
What week of the season is it?
What’s the Eagles’ record?
If you’re at the Linc, the food isn’ too great. Do you want to crush crab fries from Chickie’s? They’re not my favorite thing in the world, but I get why they’re popular. You could do worse than carb-loading on a soft pretzel or two as well. I’d be lying if I said I never housed one of those personal mini pizzas in the third quarter too. No regrets.
If you’re tailgating, the possibilities are endless. You could keep it simple with burgers and dogs. Maybe you get to Jetro or the K Lot crazy early and make eggs and scrapple for breakfast. I love that. Eat multiple meals if you’re putting the load on! Be smart! There are people who do some hardcore BBQ setups. I love me some brisket for sure. Personally, I like to get hoagie (Fink’s) and cheesesteak (Philip’s) trays delivered. Reduce the workload on your end!
You could find out you have a new food you love if you show up to one of your friend’s tailgates too. My dad’s buddy Brian cooked up scrapple one morning in Jetro and it was just incredible. I don’t think I had eaten before, which sounds crazy coming from a dude who trips over himself to mention that he’s from Philly. It became an instant favorite. I tried making it myself before games during quarantine and it just wasn’t the same. If you’re tailgating, make sure your cook knows what they know what they’re doing and not a clueless man-child like me!
I remember once during the Eagles’ playoff game against the Saints during Chip Kelly’s first season. It was a night game. Top-two coldest game I’ve ever been to along with the Christmas Day game in 2017. My mom made some chili for the tailgate. It was incredible. If you’re not tailgating or attending the game, chili (or some other kind of homemade soup) is still an incredible option for December games (can’t be before Thanksgiving) and potentially playoff matchups.
Whenever you’re watching at home, can you really go wrong with pizza and wings? You might think that’s played out and tiresome and that people do that too often, but think about it for a second. WHY do people always have pizza and wings? Because they’re the best. Not taking into account my physical well-being, they are my two favorite foods. It could be a Week 1 game at 1:00 p.m. It could be a Week 13 game at 4:25 p.m. It could be a Monday Night Football game. It doesn’t matter. Pizza and wings are always going to be a success. The obvious caveat here is that you MUST have a go-to place for pizza and wings. You should NEVER experiment with a new wing place if you have guests over for an Eagles game. Have some freaking decency.
What I like about them is that they’re great for having multiple trips to the kitchen. When your anxiety is through the roof during a game, you can always head back in there, stuff a slice of pizza down your gullet and get back in front of the TV before the Birds’ offense takes the field after a quick commercial break.
Never forget, I once made the case for tomato pie specifically too. It’s great for anxiety-induced picking:
Taking a bite of it when the sauce thickens after being left out and getting room temperature just hits perfectly. Grab a pie from Cacia’s on Ritner Street in South Philly and bring it to Jetro or the K Lot in Week 2. You’ll be the MVP of the tailgate.
Its excellence is consistent. You might take tomato pie for granted. Don’t. Have a slice while you’re stress-eating during the Dallas Monday Night Football game. You’ll love it. If you don’t order one the following game, you’ll think, “Damn, I really wish we still had tomato pie.”
If it’s the middle of the season and the Eagles are good, you may find yourself needing to one-up yourself every game. I think back to 2017. The beer was colder. The food was tastier. Bars never closed. It was as if the Multiverse splintered off. If they’re beating the crap out of teams and you’re rolling with your weekly guests and perhaps want to upgrade from that traditional pizza and wings offering, go nuts. No one wants to see you getting crazy if the team stinks. Keep that in mind.
Make some baked ziti. Put some roast pork in the crockpot and pick up some fresh rolls. Can you pull off a meatloaf? Figure it out. It’s Week 10 against Denver and the Eagles are 6-3. It’s time to check out that chicken parm recipe you’ve had saved on Pinterest for the last five months. Maybe you have a housing situation that allows you to have a smoker. Like I said earlier, I like me some brisket. Wake up early, take the dog for a quick walk and then throw some ribs in the smoker.
If the Eagles are really good? And they’re playing in primetime? And they’re playing an NFC rival or another big contender? You may have come upon, as the great Jeff McDevitt would call it, a “‘Boli Night.” We’re talking about the delicacy known as a stromboli here. This is the big time. I know Jeff has his spots, but my personal favorite is Pizza Shack in South Philly. A cheesesteak stromboli right next to a pepperoni and cheese stromboli on your kitchen table? Eagles by 50.
Conversely, I am a big proponent of the breakfast stromboli. Yep, you heard that right. Isabella Pizza on East Passyunk Avenue does a breakfast ‘boli filled with egg, cheese, potato, and your choice of meat. The pork roll one is absolutely fire. I think I ordered that for breakfast on my birthday last year. If the Birds have a huge game at 1:00 p.m, ordering a breakfast ‘boli at 10:30 a.m. or so could be the move! If you have three or so people, you’re probably fine just ordering one, but there’s nothing wrong with ordering two and throwing it back in the toaster oven later on in the afternoon to heat up for more munching.
The next time the Eagles play a London game? I’m going breakfast ‘boli no doubt, no fish and chips BS.
I once ordered a scrapple, egg, and cheese breakfast ‘boli on a Saturday night and then put it on a griddle in the morning at a tailgate. It’s not the same as a fresh one, but it got the job done.
Do we need to get into booze? That feels like another 1,200 words. I’ll keep it relatively short.
If you don’t drink, that’s totally fine. Drink whatever beer you want, but be mindful if you’re throwing them back all day to not drink something too heavy (it’s going to be a Kenwood season for me). Don’t drink hard liquor before 11 a.m. for a 1 p.m. game and don’t get out of hand on the stuff if you’re doing an all-day tailgate for an 8:15 p.m. game. I ultimately can’t tell you what to do, those are just suggestions. Sometimes I like taking a shot after a touchdown, but my days of drinking whiskey or vodka-clubs during Eagles games are long in the past.
A mimosa before a 1 p.m. never misses. Maybe mix up the juice you use. I’m a pineapple guy. It’s a Clancy family favorite to throw some Bailey’s in a pregame coffee too.
Some sides? Snacks? I like a nice Tostitos Scoop big bag with some hummus, salsa or guac. Actually, get one of those football-shaped trays with the dividers and do a little bit of each in them along with the chips in the big opening. If you’re trying to put your rough and wild Eagles parties behind you, maybe you upgrade to a meat and cheese plate. Philadelphia is overflowing with great spots where you can get some amazing sopressata, prosciutto and the like. Walk into the Reading Terminal and you’ll eventually bump into some.
If you want to get some pastries (cannoli?!?) and cookies, any South Philly bakery will do, but, to be honest, you’re fine grabbing something from Acme or Giant too. My personal favorite cannoli place is Termini Brothers, but in South Philly, debating cannolis is even fiercer than debating cheesesteaks. I don’t care about the fight. Just give me a ricotta cheese cannoli and let me get angry at the Eagles in peace.
I’m writing this at 10 a.m. in July. All I’ve had is a cup of coffee. I’m starving. The Eagles open their season in 53 days. The things I’d do to be in front of my TV right now with my loved ones, eating some (all?) of these options and watching the Eagles thrash the Falcons. I always harp on the “Eagles are a religion” thing for Philly and it’s true. It’s the breaking of the bread (or Liscio’s roll I guess), that concept of communion where we all stuff our faces and get ready for that thing that connects us all.