You know what I love? Baseball. There’s just something about it, you know? As America’s pastime, it’s so historically and culturally significant—patriotic, in fact. As a summer sport, it was always a game I enjoyed during a break from school, when fun, relaxation, and baseball was what life was all about. As a daily sport, it’s great for someone like me. The practice to game ratio is great; when you win, you get to keep the momentum going; and when you lose, you can get right back to it the next day.
Now that I’m older, and no longer play the game myself, it’s this last reason that really sticks with me. Baseball is an everyday sport. Sometimes it’s a grind. Sometimes it’s full of highs. In that way, it’s a lot like life. It also becomes a part of your life due to this same, everyday nature. For six months, it becomes your routine. You watch, or listen, spending time with the announcers for a few hours, as you go about your day. It’s a hobby, a passion, habitual.
You know what else is a hobby and a passion of mine? Food! Maybe it’s a coincidence that I love food and baseball. Then again, maybe there’s a unique intersection between the two; one that doesn’t really exist for any other game. There really aren’t any basketball, or tennis, or golf, or hockey, or football (no, wings and Papa John’s don’t count) foods. But there are baseball foods. No other sports have relationships with food quite like baseball. I mean, come on, take a look at the lyrics of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game:”
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd,
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame,
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out
At the old ball game!
See! One line reads, “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.” There’s no sport that celebrates food quite like baseball. When you go to the game, you expect to consume certain items. Those foods conjure up feelings of being at the ballpark, relaxing on a warm, summer night, enjoying a bite while enjoying the game. Those foods are baseball foods. Now, if you’re lucky enough to have the resources and time to buy season tickets and attend the games, you’ll have your fill of ballpark favorites. However, if you only make it to your stadium of choice every once in a while, you can bring the flavors of the ballpark home for a fun way to experience the nightly telecast. Here are nine items to take note of:
These are the quintessential baseball food. In “Field of Dreams”, when Ray goes to the game with Terrence, what do they order? A dog and a beer. Fenway Franks, Dodger Dogs, Coney Dogs—it doesn’t matter where you are or what park you visit, hot dogs are there. Now, all hot dogs aren’t made equal. Sure, you might like a steamed dog, wrapped in foil, purchased from a vendor (for real?), but for me, I’m going with a grilled, all-beef, kosher dog with caramelized onions and yellow mustard. For a nice caramelized onion recipe, click here.
When you’re in the mood for an encased meat, but you’re not interested in a hot dog, you’re likely to seek out a brat. For a great, ballpark experience, I recommend buying some uncooked sausage from a butcher, boiling them in beer, and finishing them on the grill. For a great recipe, check here.
There’s no ballpark snack like the next two items—they’re in the song, for goodness sake! It’s tough to beat sitting at a game, working your way through a bag of peanuts. At home, I’d recommend roasting your own. Doing so gives you access to a freshness you can’t get with peanuts out of a bag. Never roasted your own peanuts? Try this recipe here.
In case you’re not familiar with this wonderful snack, Cracker Jack is the brand name of a caramel popcorn mixed with peanuts that comes with a fun prize at the bottom of the box. Imagine this, though: making your own peanut caramel corn. Sound delicious? Of course it does! Check out a recipe here.
Nachos aren’t necessarily a traditional ballpark food, but they’re now ubiquitous in stadiums across the country. In fact, my cousin Danny always gets a batch of nachos when he attends a game. At the end of the day, if you’re not in the mood for peanuts or Cracker Jack, you could do a lot worse than nachos. For a nice recipe, check here.
When you’re at the game on a hot summer night, and you’re looking for dessert, chances are you’ll be looking to get a helmet sundae. Don’t know what a helmet sundae is? It’s an ice cream sundae, in a mini (or sometimes, if you’re lucky, a large) MLB helmet. For an authentic and fun ballpark-at-home twist, get some MLB mini helmets to use for sundae dishes. It’ll be a big hit with the kids! Check out mini helmets at Amazon here.
This beverage is everywhere at the ballpark, and nowadays, you’re likely to have a choice between macro- and micro-brews. Ever wonder about brewing your own? Now’s your chance. Check out how to brew your own suds at home.
As kids, there was always one thing my sister and I looked forward to consuming once we were done with our hot dogs, peanuts, and Cracker Jack. Cotton candy. The spectacle of a cotton candy vendor was something to behold, and seeing it hand-spun, in person, was a miracle of science. Want to bring that fun and wonderment home for all? Check out this recipe here.
Now that baseball season is here, you might find yourself craving some of these goodies. Hopefully, you’re able to get to a few games this year, but in case you don’t, never fear! You can bring the tastes of the ballpark to your home. Play ball!
Header image courtesy of Kevin Harber/flickr.