Drew Robinson is the pitmaster at Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q. He previously wrote about serving up gratitude in trouble times, why barbecue matters and the historic rivalry between Alabama and LSU.
No matter who you are or where you live, rituals are an intrinsic element to human life. Whether they’re based in religion, home, work, the kitchen or elsewhere, people rely on rituals to bring rhythm and order to their lives. They are the place where tradition and superstition intersect, and this is as much the case with tailgating as with any other ritual I can think of.
There is not a more superstitious group of people than sports fans who typically develop their own rituals and turn to traditions to assist them in helping carry their team to victory. Arguably, the cornerstone of every tailgating ritual is the food.
At the best tailgates, preparing the food is as important as the act of eating itself. Because my friends and I at Jim ‘N Nick’s love football passionately (Roll Tide!), we tailgate often - and it almost always involves barbecue. At a recent tailgate, someone asked me, "What is it about barbecue that lends itself so perfectly to the circumstance?"
At 5:31 p.m. Eastern, raise a glass to the decades that have elapsed since the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, officially ending 13 years of Prohibition and re-legalizing the production, purchase and consumption of alcohol in the United States.
“What America needs now is a drink,” quipped President Franklin D. Roosevelt when Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah ratified the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933.
Of course, numerous “speakeasies” - named because patrons often had to whisper a password through a locked door to gain admittance - sprung up in Prohibition’s wake. Police Commissioner Grover Whalen estimated that New York alone had over 32,000 speakeasies, and the neo-speakeasy fad persists in cocktail bars. (You can also drink in bars that were speakeasies in the ‘20s and ‘30s and that are still serving today.)
Other things arose out of Prohibition, including the real creativity with which determined drinkers evaded the law. Popular songs of the era just before Prohibition included “What’ll We Do On A Saturday Night (When The Town Goes Dry),” “Everybody Wants A Key To My Cellar” and even Irving Berlin’s “You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake On Tea.”
Editor's Note: Mark Hill is Director of Photography for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Although I have been in love with photography since I was 12, my first serious relationship with the subject began as a wide-eyed intern in New York City. A well-regarded food photographer took me under his wing and taught me all aspects of the craft, starting with a respect for the food that nourishes us.
For me, the key to good food photography is that whatever you are shooting needs to looks fresh from the kitchen. Not all food is inherently beautiful - a rack of ribs, for example - but if it appears fresh and hot out of the smoker, it will look appetizing.
The plate needs to be composed in the kitchen as carefully as you frame your camera. Look at how the food is plated. Ask yourself if the most important element is highlighted. If not, rotate the plate to make it more prominent. Does the garnish enhance the plate or distract? If it distracts, reduce or eliminate it all together. Don’t be afraid to move things around.
Here are a few tips that will really make food images their best. They all apply if using the fanciest digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or mobile phone camera.
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