Last weekend Tony, Gio and I had the privilege of attending the NDSU Bison home game against the University of Northern Iowa with our friends Greg and Stacy Rick, their daughters Brenna, Caitlin and Delaney, and new friends Steve and Leann Wright. We had planned to join them pre-game for a tailgating extravaganza, but unfortunately the threat of wintery weather thwarted our plans. As North Dakotans and Minnesotans, we should have known better, since that weather never did materialize.
My parents are both NDSU alumni, and I grew up going to Bison home games with my Dad and siblings, when the games were still held outdoors at Dacotah Field. Since Tony and I returned to Fargo thirteen years ago, I’ve only been to a handful of games, and this was Tony’s second Bison game – ever.
There are a few reasons for our lack of participation in the local phenomenon better known as Bison Nation. First, I’ll hearken back to that famous episode from South Park, and Blame Canada. I’m married to a Canadian, and college sports just weren’t a part of his upbringing. Second, we’re restaurateurs, which means we’re not available for recreation on Saturdays like normal people. And third, Tony is a Miami Dolphins fan. He’s simply not accustomed to backing a winning team.
Neither of us was prepared for the impressive level of showmanship that has become the norm for a Bison home game. As the FargoDome dimmed to near darkness, with just spotlights panning around the stadium, we looked at each other, totally unprepared for what was about to happen. The crowd erupted into a raucous symphony of boos, and we realized that the opposing team was making its entrance onto the field (although it was so dark we could barely see them).
With AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” pulsing in the background, the crowd’s demeanor changed as soon as the giant TV screens showed Coach Craig Bohl leading the Bison through the tunnel, preparing to make their grand entrance. I have to be honest, we were completely caught up in the madness. The screams, cheers and whistles from the crowd were nearly deafening, and the air was electric with an intensity that was almost palpable. This was a call to battle, and we were ready to join the fight.
The first half started off a little shaky for the Bison, and Greg was beginning to worry that Tony may have brought the bad luck as we entered halftime with the Panthers up 13-7. Regrettably, we had to leave before the second half started so that Tony could return to work in the Sarello’s kitchen, and Gio and I could attend a wedding, so we missed the dramatic turnaround in the third and fourth quarters when the Bison defeated UNI 24-23. Hopefully, Greg and Stacy won’t attribute this comeback to our absence, because we absolutely loved our Bison experience and hope to be invited back again.
It’s NDSU Homecoming Week and we’re joining the celebration with a great tailgating recipe for Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions. Earlier this year we introduced this dish at Sarello’s, and it’s become one of our most popular appetizers. For this occasion, we’re adding some good, crusty bread like a French baguette, Mexican bolillo rolls, or Italian ciabatta, to create the perfect tailgating sandwich, or “sangwich,” as Italians have been known to say.
This recipe is ideal for tailgating because it’s simple to prepare, delicious, and most importantly, portable. The sausages can be cooked right on the grill, and you can sauté the peppers and onions on the side burner, or even prepare them in advance and warm them up just before serving. If you’re a Bison Fan, we recommend using just green and yellow peppers for your Homecoming Tailgating party.
Just before serving, we toss the sauteed peppers and onions in a light coating of warm tomato sauce over medium-high heat for about a minute. We’ve included our recipe for an easy tomato sauce, but you can also use your favorite from a jar.
Our best wishes to Coach Bohl , the Bison team and staff, and all of the fans and alumni in Bison Nation for a Happy Homecoming. Now, get out there on Game Day and demolish Missouri State.