Last weekend Empanada Boy and I flew out to Madison where we met his parents and my parents and sister for an awesome long weekend. We spent most of the weekend at the house in Eagle River (Northern Wisconsin) that Popover and Tofutti Cutie co-own with EB’s aunts and uncles. But we started the trip off right by attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison homecoming football game, in addition to all the other events and traditions (many of them food related) that came along with it. We started the morning off at 9 am with some tailgating. But this wasn’t just any kind of tailgating. As it happens, Popover is a very important person in the UW worldâ€” a Regent on the board of the university system. That got us all an invitation to a tailgating breakfast at the UW president’s house!
We were all introduced to the president and then filed into one of the bright airy rooms of the stately UW-owned home where we lined up for Bloody Marys with a bunch of other red-clad folk. We then proceeded to the buffet table where we piled our plates high with fresh fruit salad, beef hash, homemade chicken sausage topped with mango salsa, croissants, cinnamon buns, cheese and egg souffle and tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The food, catered by Viki Kohlman of Chez Vous, was much more high-class than my vision of tailgating fare, but it was quite tasty. The Bloody Marys were also remarkably good, considering their mass production. The only thing that left something to be desired was the coffee, watery and weak. As Mango Mama put it: “The president deserves to have better coffee.”
We finished our food and then headed to the stadium where pretty much the whole city was gathering in their red and white, badger-festooned regalia. EB, Flava Flav and I spent the first half of the game in the stands with fans of all kinds. From there, we had a perfect view of the marching band and cheerleading squad and watched as the Badgers outpaced the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It was more than 80 degrees that morning (crazy for October in Wisconsin) and we were in the direct sunlight, so we were glad when halftime came and Popover took us up to the Regents’ box where he, Tofutti, Mango Mama and Daddy Salmon had been watching.
The Regents and their guests had been snacking on brats and drinking soda (no beerâ€” it’s college!), but alas, the brats had already been cleared away by the time we got up there. I didn’t want Flav and Mango Mama to go without trying a brat, so I went down to one of the peons’ concession stand, got a brat, dressed it with mustard, relish, onions and kraut and brought it back up to the box. Juicy and flavorful, it was gone before I even thought of taking a picture. That wasn’t the end of the feasting, though. Part way through the third quarter, pizzas were delivered to the Regents’ box (in case you weren’t full enough already). These came in sausage, pepperoni and vegetable flavors and were fairly unremarkable, but we tried them anyway. After all, this may well have been our only chance to check out the Regents’ box.
In the end, the Badgers won the game and we got a great lesson in UW tradition. The Badgers went on to beat top-ranked Ohio State this weekend, and I cheered like a true fan when I heard the news.