Adventures In Gluten-Free Tailgating

Little Obi-Wan hints at wanting a chocolate twist

Little Obi-Wan: Auntie, where you going?
Me: The football game.
Little Obi-Wan: You should go to the bakery.
Me: Why should I go to the bakery?
Little Obi-Wan: You can go to the bakery and get a chocolate twist!

And that’s how we left my bestie’s house to head to the USC v. Hawai`i game.

The game was the reason why we went on vacation when we did.  We were supposed to go to California in December for my uncle’s wedding, but that fell through.  I was looking forward to seeing my family there as well as spend lots of time with my bestieand her family.

Uncle Ed hasn’t heard the end of it from Auntie El after she saw he covered her OSU hat with the USC Beat Hawai`i pin.

After bugging Uncle Ed over and over about what I should bring and what they would have for tailgating, he finally told me to bring whatever I would want to eat that would be safe for me.  That should have been a no-brainer, but I had to ask.  Right?

We finally made it to the L.A. Coliseum after getting turned around thanks to our smartphone navigation being not-so-smart and then parking at the furthest parking lot on USC’s campus from the Coliseum.  We seriously need to find our TomTom.  Darth Vader has only steered me wrong once.  Our phone navigation just kept infuriating me to the point of almost chucking the phone out of the window.

One good thing about parking so far was being able to see so much of the USC campus as Uncle Ed walked us over to their tailgating spot in the Coliseum parking lot.  The really odd thing was seeing so much red and gold around campus.  Tents were taking up every inch of grass space that we walked by.  I had never seen so much partying on a college campus before.  Maybe that’s because my own university was miles from our football stadium so there was no on-campus tailgating and then walking over for football games.  I was overwhelmed by all of it just because it was my first time being in the middle of so much going on before a college football game.  Okay any football game.  Maybe we’re just too laid back in Hawai`i.

Lazy Gluten-free Teriyaki Chicken

I decided to make gluten-free teriyaki chicken.  The thing about teriyaki is I really don’t like cooking the sauce or all the sugar that goes into it.  So I did what any lazy person on vacation would do.  I didn’t cook it.   You know what?  It still turned out delicious.  Chaz grilled the chicken on the grill with foil underneath along with mixed veggies.  I was able to fill up for lunch and an early dinner before going in to the game.  I’m going to be a little unorthodox and give you the recipe in the middle of my story.

Lazy Gluten-Free Teriyaki Chicken

4 chicken thighs, bone-in (skin-on if you prefer, too)

1 10 ounce bottle San-J gluten-free tamari

1 thumb length piece of ginger, sliced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 or more slices fresh ripe pineapple


Place all ingredients in a bowl or ziploc bag and marinate for 24 hours.  Remove chicken from the teriyaki sauce and shake off any garlic or ginger pieces that might be on it.  Grill until cooked through.

Easy enough, right?

My cousins disappeared not long after they ate.  I wound up talking to my auntie and uncles for the most part since they ran off.  We found out later that they found the University of Hawai`i Alumni tailgate.  And they didn’t even call to tell me!  That’s okay.  I had a good time with my auntie and uncles.  Especially since I hadn’t seen Uncle Ed and Uncle Euge since Auntie El and Uncle D got married.  That was a long time ago, folks.


Auntie El brought lots of food, of which I could only have the haupia and that was all right by me.  Being under a red tent made the plate and haupia look pink.  It’s really white.  If you’re wondering what the heck haupia is, it is a coconut pudding.  It has the texture of pudding, but the consistency of gelatin so you can eat it with your fingers.

Auntie El also brought me some VuQo Vodka.  It’s made from coconut and is made by a relative.  It’s not widely available, but we had been at a liquor store the night before that was supposed to carry it and they didn’t have it.  Auntie saw my sad face on Facebook and took pity on me.  I have the best aunties.  I didn’t have any while tailgating. I was already drinking my Green’s Dubble Dark Ale when she gave it to me and I learned a long time ago not to mix beer and liquor.  Bad things happen.  I did try it the next day.  First thought was, “Smooooooooooth” as I’m coughing a little.  It’s high-octane.  Second thought was, “We need this in Cincinnati.”  There was no way I was going to get it back safely on the plane so I left it with my bestie.

Goat with “special sauce”

Uncle Euge was rather proud of himself that they brought goat.  They never brought goat to a tailgate before.  It was in honor of my visit that they decided to bring goat for the first time.  My uncles have a sick sense of humor.  If you haven’t read my goat story, check out the link I just provided.  Uncle Euge asked if he should pour on the special sauce on once he had the goat grilled and prepped.  “Would you pour it on if you were trying to get me to eat it?” I asked.  “Yes,” he answered.  “Then do it.”  They got a few people to try the goat.  Not sure how many.  But one guy loudly proclaimed, “I’m still chewing!”  Yes.  Goat is pretty chewy.  I had a good chuckle at his expense.

Me giving Uncle Euge Hawai`i beads and him giving me USC beads. He promptly lost the Hawai`i beads. I was a good niece and wore them until I got home. I still have them, too.

Uncle D, Auntie El, and my cousins, Ulu (who happens to be going to school nearby), Lana, and Lani didn’t stay for the game, so as everything was being packed up to go into the Coliseum they took off to back home.  It was fun while it lasted.

With cousins Ulu, Lana, Lani, & Z, and Uncle D

I spent a little time with my cousin Z while everything was being packed up.  It was my first time meeting him (he’s big for a five year-old, yeah?).  He was getting a bit cranky and was on the verge of a tantrum, so I distracted him with some assisted problem-solving.  Tantrum averted.  He’s a funny little guy and I’m happy Uncle Euge and Auntie P adopted him.

Uncle Ed bought our tickets for the game and thought we were sitting in front of them. It turns out we were across the aisle and up a few aisles from them.  They were pretty good seats.  It was getting to them that was crazy.  Once Chaz saw which row we were in, he left to go smoke.  That left me to get to our seats on my own.  It started with the guy on the end.

Smartass Big Guy: Woah, wait a minute.  I don’t think I can let you in wearing that. *points to my Hawai`i jersey*

Hawai`i does their pre-game haka

Me: Should I go get my uncles?  They’re right over there.  *points across the aisle to my uncles*

Smartass Big Guy: Why?  Are they bigger than me?

Me: No, but they’d do anything for their niece.

Cue: chorus of “ooooooohs” and laughter from the surrounding crowd.

I’m a sucker for marching bands. I’m probably one of the few who actually watch the half-time shows. I know how much work they put in. That and you have to give them respect. It’s not easy to play an instrument and march around. Been there, done that.

The benefit of growing up with so many uncles is I can meet smartassery with even more smartassery.

I was stopped three more times (it would figure our seats were right in the middle of the row) by guys being smartasses and me responding in kind, then

The camera grew legs. OMG, it’s an alien!

being let through with laughter.  After sitting, I got some more comments from the two Armchair Quarterbacks behind me.  They were nice guys, but they had a comment for every stinking play.

USC takes their football seriously.   I know from my uncles and the two of them being alumni and die-hard fans, as well as from what I saw while I was there.  It’s absolute insanity.  At least for someone not used to so much fan intensity.

What really threw me off was the use of a P.A. system by the band and the cheerleaders.  Especially when the cheerleader using the mic on your end of the field is doing a half-assed, “Defense!” cheer.  If you’re going to use a mic, have some spirit!  It was just disconcerting to watch a play in relative quiet (other than the comments from the peanut gallery behind me) and then suddenly you have band music or an less-than-spirited male cheerleader yelling into a mic coming out of the speakers stacked up in the end zone.  Really?  Maybe I just think Hawai`i does it better and that any marching band worth their salt doesn’t need a system to be heard.

The things you see at a USC game. The guy even had USC pompoms.

Then there was the roving aerial camera on the wire.  I kept thinking aliens were invading.  Freaked me out!

I was so full from the food I ate during the tailgate that I didn’t even need to dip into my stores of Kind or Uberbars I had hiding in my camera bag.  Nor was I tempted by the stadium food.  I think Chaz ran off and had himself something at the start of the 3rd quarter.  He did enjoy the hot dog he had from the vendors in the parking lot after the game though.  So did my uncles and Z.

Uncle Euge, me, Chaz, & Uncle Ed

After the games, my uncles and their friends hang out in the parking lot where they tailgated and make coffee while eating dessert.  Smart move since there is so much traffic getting out of the area.  We stuck around for a bit and made plans to see each other for dinner later on in the week.  Then Chaz and I were off on the long hike to our rental car.  Walking through campus devoid of all the red tents and tailgaters was a different experience.  With everyone out of the way, I could appreciate all the architecture even with no sunlight.  I plan on going back just to take pictures one day.

When we got back to my bestie’s, her Old Man’s birthday party was still going.  I got to see a couple of their friends I’ve met before for a few minutes before they left.  Wild and crazy Hollywood parties.  I tell ya.

Little Obi-Wan was already in bed by the time we got home so Chaz woke up early the next morning and ran off to the bakery for guess what?

Yup. Little Obi-Wan got his chocolate twist. You should have seen the smile on his face when I gave him the bag.


  1. What a great day with family! I’ve actually never tailgated before, but your sweet story makes me want to! Can you imagine the gf tailgating feast we could all put on?

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