Tailgate tour, Season 2: sampling the AFC's best

Setting the scene

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 27 Steelers 0

November 27, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Reporter

Jay DiEugenio has tasted barbecued raccoon, sampled squirrel pasta and eaten possibly every form of jambalaya ever concocted. It's all part of the job.

Actually, job is not the best description. For almost four months, the DiEugenio family - Jay (36 years old), Karen (34), Nick (14), Luc (12) and Frankie (5) - has been traveling in a motor home to every AFC stadium to collect material for a book.

"We want to make sure that tailgating stays around," said Jay DiEugenio, who parked the silver RV in Lot H for yesterday's Ravens game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's a whole subculture, a whole lifestyle," DiEugenio said. He's dressed in a gold T-shirt with the number 7, the name "Toothlessberger" and the motto "Real Men Wear Helmets." "It doesn't matter who you root for. Once you start grilling and step on that lot, everyone embraces you with open arms."

The DiEugenios, from Yorba Linda, Calif., undertook a similar journey last year, when they visited every NFC venue and published I Got Your Tailgate Party Right Here!, a compilation of the best recipes from tailgates outside of stadiums.

In Green Bay last year, the DiEugenios were treated to barbecued raccoon. Said Luc DiEugenio of the taste in his best diplomatic tone: "It has its own unique flavor."

This fall, the family encountered a group of fans at a campground between Kansas City and Indianapolis and was offered squirrel pasta awash in a lemon pepper sauce. "It didn't taste odd," Jay DiEugenio said.

It's not all fun and games, however, for the boys. Their school district e-mails lesson plans monthly, and the boys send their work back to their teachers by Express Mail.

And Jay and Karen DiEugenio try to plan visits to historical and cultural attractions during the week. On Saturday, the family traveled to Fort McHenry, which was a memorable time for Frankie DiEugenio, who was named after Francis Scott Key.

Luc DiEugenio said he misses his friends and family, but he admits that the trip has been a rewarding experience.

"Traveling in the RV is kind of hard, but you could say everything is," he said. "It is really fun because you get to meet great people, eat a lot of good food, and see the great spots in the country."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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