Food: The joys of being a Packer fan
When my buddy Roger Soleske pulled open the lid to his grill and revealed some of the most tantalizing pork loins I have ever seen, I knew the party was going in the right direction. I was attending my friends’ Rog and MJ’s annual Packer bash and at that moment I couldn’t think of any better place to be.
I have been friends with Rog and his wife, MJ, for a long time, long before they moved to the Northwoods from Green Bay. When they retired from jobs in Title Town and came to this part of Wisconsin, they brought a fervent love for the Packers with them. “I love living here but I miss all the Packer hub-bub in Green Bay,” MJ once told me. “It’s a part of life there.”
That got me thinking about how the Pack has always been a part of my life. Even as a kid, I can remember my father yelling at us to get out of the way of his television viewing when Bart Starr was at the helm. There was always a sense of anticipation at our house on Packer game days. It was a time to settle in and watch the action. And there have been times throughout my life when I’ve seen that action up close and personal.
I have been lucky enough to attend several Packer games throughout my life and at one, I actually got to march unto the field. That’s when my high school band was chosen to perform a half time show.
It’s a unique experience to be at the bottom of the bowl they call Lambeau Field playing a tuba; and it is a perspective that I have never forgotten. The entire band got to spend the majority of this game seated next to the players which was another unforgettable experience, especially since the high that day was a frigid 10 degrees.
Another time a friend of mine, who had season tickets, invited me to a game where I got to sit in end zone seats. I’ll never forget watching the Pack emerge from their tunnel. They were so close I could reach out and touch them has they ran past.
But as anyone who has ever attended a Packer game knows, watching the actual game is only a small part of the experience. There are no finer tailgaters than Wisconsin fans and the excitement and antics of these revelers was amazing. And I couldn’t believe the variety of tailgate food that was available. Of course brats and cheese were popular items but there were tailgaters cooking up all kinds of exotic fare; from shrimp and lobster kabobs to giant prime rib roasts. The aromas alone were beyond tantalizing.
I was also taken by the attire. While I myself had on a modest Packer hat and shirt, I saw people completely painted in green and gold; green and gold bikini wear; Packer pajamas; green and gold pants and even one guy who was dressed as a Packer clown. But everyone had one thing in common, they were happy, excited and all looking forward to sitting in the stands and cheering the Pack to victory.
It’s been a while since I’ve attended a Packer game in person, but I truly do love the home parties I get invited to. The food and drink are phenomenal, not to mention being in the company of other Packer fanatics. This week I’ve included a recipe that is a great tailgate addition, no matter if it is included in the shadow of Lambeau Field or in a neighbor’s garage.
In fact, that’s where Rog was grilling up his fabulous pork loins last weekend. And then during half-time, as we dined on this delicious food, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the Packers, and how their games are an excellent excuse to get together with good friends like Rog and MJ, during the fall and winter months. Go PACK Go!
Grilled Packer Poppers
6 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
12 slices bacon
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Spread cream cheese to fill jalapeno halves. Wrap with bacon. Secure with a toothpick. Place on the grill, and cook until bacon is crispy