Tips for tailgaters from grounded Eagles fans
As many football fans will tell you, the pregame tailgating experience cooking and dining al fresco in your favorite team’s arena parking lot is only slightly less fun than the game itself. Some set-ups can get pretty elaborate, with fancy barbecue grills and gourmet food and wine.
Philadelphia Eagles fan and kashrut-observant Marvin Raab of Cherry Hill used to get invited to a lot of these affairs. “The problem was I couldn’t eat anything potato chips, that was the extent of it. It was very difficult to be an Eagles fan and go tailgating when everyone else is eating shrimp and pork ribs and you’re just sitting there and can’t really participate.”
Then he met the Edenbaums.
About 10 years ago, Steve Edenbaum, also a Cherry Hill resident, and his sons, Mitchell and Andrew, began their ritual of grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers before the Eagles home games. Small potatoes, gastronomically speaking except their food was strictly kosher.
Raab, an owner of Vineland Kosher Poultry, hooked up with the Edenbaums five years later. The group of kosher tailgaters has grown over the years. It isn’t unusual to have 20 or more show up for the good food and good times.
“We have a big outing, a camper,” said Raab, who serves as a commissioner on the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. “The meals are a little bit more exciting, [and] everything is glatt kosher.”
The fare can be quite eclectic. Over the course of the season, in addition to the standard burgers and frankfurters, Raab has served lamb chops marinated in wine, hot wings, barbecued ribs, pastrami, and corned beef, all cooked on charcoal grills. The camper even has an “OU” on it, though he is quick to say it’s meant as a joke, not an “official” hechsher.
Everyone is welcome at Raab’s trailer, where he provides the food free of charge. (Sorry, alcoholic beverages are not included.) “Every week it’s different people. Some aren’t even Jewish; they just like the kosher food.”
Edenbaum and Raab wanted to make the point to their kids that “you can be an Eagles fan and still hold on to your religion and beliefs. They get to see that they can be part of an American [tradition] and still be kosher,” said Raab.
Philadelphia fans have a reputation of being less than welcoming to those they perceive as outsiders, but Raab said he’s never heard a negative word about the gatherings. “As long as you’re an Eagles’ fan, you’re safe.” Last year, in fact, he set up a portable sukka at the Oct. 16 game. “It’s cute,” Raab said, “but at the same time there’s a lesson to be learned. The kids see it and feel more like this is the way it should be.”
The Eagles’ season ended with their 27-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional playoff, but Raab and his buddies are looking forward to the 2007 season. “Even though we lost, we are proud of how our team played this year. There is always next year and we cannot wait. Go, Eagles!”
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