The Friendliest of Rivalries
For me, the UGA/South Carolina game has typically been one that it is almost too hot to care about. For years, it was so early in the season that the game and the tailgate were only fun because we had been waiting so long to cheer for the Dawgs again. Now that the matchup is played in cooler weather, I wonder if the rivalry will heat up? I know for many of you, this has always been a heated game – but for me, it’s been a fun week of teasing with friends from Carolina. There have been flags swapped on front porches and good natured jabs shared across Facebook. In the spirit of that friendship, I have invited one of my Gamecock fan friends to create this week’s tailgate menu inspired by her time at the University and her days on the coast in Beaufort.
But I have to do it with this caveat, my younger son is certain I have ruined the good thing I have going here by letting the enemy post. He enjoys my friend Julie and would love everything on her menu (but I’m not letting him have the Firefly Vodka). He just thinks only Bulldogs should be allowed to share their ideas here. He’ll be running in the State Cross Country meet at game time, so let’s just not tell him, ok?
Bulldog fans, meet Julie Jensen. She’s a southern X-Pat living in New York right now, but she’s a great cook and a fun hostess, and she enjoyed her time in college as much as the rest of us – even if she was wearing the wrong color red….
I am not a native of SC, but after over 25 years of my family being there, I think it’s Ok to claim it as home. I have driven into Beaufort so many times – coming home from college, when I had my first adult job, returning from seminary, and when I worked in far away churches in far away states, twice now above the Mason-Dixon line. Each time I cross the Broad River Bridge, I open my sunroof, inhale deeply, smell the water and the mud and know I am home.
That said, I spent 7 years of my adult life living in Cartersville, GA. Which created a small issue. I am a graduate from USC and a die-hard Gamecock. When I lived in Yankee territory, it was not a big deal – the sports religion there is NFL football on Sundays. I could watch the Gamecocks on Saturday and still get my preacher’s nap on Sunday. When there was a late game, ESPN would replay it early on Sunday mornings and I could catch the end while I edited my sermon. It was not until I moved to Georgia that I realized how much I missed being in SEC territory. I keep the rivalries friendly (well, except for Clemson, but that’s a different story) and love to egg on Dawgs, who love to return the favor. If you are going to dish it out, you have to be able to take it in return. I even worked well with a colleague who’s son played for the Dawgs, and we’re still good friends. Football created a starting point for pastoral conversations with church and community members as a common joy, and a common place to mourn. I’m not going to lie, the Sunday’s when we won, and they lost were much more fun than when it was the other way around. if you are going to dish it out, you have to be able to take it in return.
So this is a big Saturday on my personal calendar. The day that I spent 7 years in exile in enemy territory. The day that reminds me of home, and of Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, which when I left the Lowcountry and drove back to school, was how I knew I was almost home. When Nikki asked me if I wanted to write the guest blog post for today, I was excited – she was letting the enemy provide the menu! What’s a fan to do but reach out to her friends where it all began? The ones who went to the first games together when we moved in to Wade Hampton Residence Hall our freshman year, and still stay in touch. We call ourselves the Hampton Honeys, and they helped me plan the recipe.
Lindsay provided the ideas for the appetizer. BBQ sliders with coleslaw. I’m smart enough to let each of you decide for yourselves what kind of BBQ to use. My first choice is from Scott’s Walk-Up Barbeque in Cartersville. But I still remember that it was at USC where I was first introduced to good BBQ. Real BBQ. The kind of stuff you dream about with sauce and slaw on your face and the perfect bread to soak it up.
The main dish was my choice. Just outside of Beaufort is Saint Helena Island. You drive over it on your way to Hunting Island State Park (my favorite beach) and Fripp Island. The tiny community of Frogmore is home to two things. Frogmore International Airport and Frogmore Stew (AKA Lowcountry boil). For years I thought it was a soupy dish. No. Not even close. Frogmore stew is boiling water seasoned with Old Bay seasoning that cooks and flavors the sweet local shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn on the cob. Drain it, pour it out on paper, and eat it. Preferably with lots of butter and a cold beer. This smells like the sea and good food and reminds me of summer and fall days outside with family and friends.
Dessert comes from Nanda Ann (Nan for short). Peach Cobbler, best served hot with ice cream. While Georgia has the name The Peach State, South Carolina actually produces more peaches. So we will consider this the dish to bring us together across team lines. The peaches can be from either state, canned, or fresh, or frozen. Nan did what any of us would do and asked her mom for the recipe, which reminded me of our girl’s trips to Greenville and Myrtle Beach.
Every game needs a cocktail. This is the South, after all. I was going to suggest something Zima based, as it was the drink of choice for a while when we were all learning to drink. But none of us actually liked it, and even though it is back, no one wants to try it again. So, Lindsay came to the rescue with the reminder that Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka (which I cannot even find here in NY State) is the unofficial alcohol of SC. I recommend 1 part Firefly to 2 parts lemonade over ice served in a mason jar.
When we kickoff on Saturday, I will be thinking about my college friends and the first time we held up our hands and sang “here’s a health Carolina…” I’ll remember the first time the team ran out to 2001 and Cocky ran across the end zone with the flag celebrating a touchdown. I will also remember those I love in Georgia who taught me to appreciate the Dawgs (shhh…. Sometimes I cheer for them. Don’t tell). My mom and I will text each other back and forth as we watch – her in Beaufort, and me in rural New York. I’ll reach out to my Georgia friends and, for a few hours, the miles between us won’t feel as far. I’m going to find some BBQ and peaches and tea and think of home for a bit. If you need me, I’ll be the one in my gameday shirt yelling “Go Gamecocks!” at the TV.
Julie, when I get home from the cross country meet, I’ll be yelling “Go Dawgs!” right back at ya! (Too bad I can’t get to the flag on your front porch!)