In the world of college athletics, professional sports or even NASCAR racing, rivalries are a ubiquitous, even pervasive, part of the game. Yankees fans don't necessarily go in for Red Sox diehards, and University of Alabama fanatics aren't likely to chat it up with Auburn University loyalists. Common ground can be scarce. However, according to The Ultimate Tailgater's Handbook, edited by Stephen Linn, it does exist; one need only look toward the parking lots and sidewalks of today's stadiums and arenas to find it. As Linn so eloquently notes, the tailgate is a unifier, bringing together the very American noble spirit of adventure, as well as the twin loves of healthy competition and the All-U-Can-Eat buffet. Part guidebook, part celebratory treatise on fully mobile, vehicle-based cuisine, The Ultimate Tailgater's Handbook is a comprehensive look at what it means to tailgate in today's world. Along with a brief history (the first tailgate most likely took place in 1869 before the Rutgers/Princeton football game) and several fun facts (one survey revealed that 30 percent of tailgaters never set foot in the stadium ), there are illustrations on what to wear, checklists of what to bring, recipes on what to cook, and diagrams of how to set it all up. There's even a lengthy debate on the ever-present question of gas versus charcoal grilling.
In essence, the Tailgater's Handbook won't leave you looking like an amateur when you're ready to entertain come game-time. Nashville-based writer Lacey Galbraith admits to being one of the 30 percent who rarely make it inside the stadium.