Sitting on the sidelines on a beautiful day while enjoying a polo game, one of sport’s most spectacular sights should be enough on its own, but it seems we all like a nosh with our thundering hooves. Polo is played on nearly every continent, and that thought makes my culinary curiosity kick in … what are they eating while watching polo in Barbados or Cape Town or Bangkok? So, I set about checking it out as any good culinarian would do, and I hope my investigation will help give your tailgate spread some global influences. I hit the Internet looking for some answers from the worldwide polo community and posted the question:
What do you serve at your tailgate that reflects the unique flavor of your region, country or club?
It should come as no surprise to the “real” polo spectators that the first responses were in the beverage category. Claudia Hodari described the national beverage of Argentina, “maté” to me: “In Argentina, more than eat, we drink "maté" while tailgating. Five or six of us sit around watching polo while one "cebe" pours the hot water. We pass the maté, or gourd, around and around, each taking his or her turn slurping (which is politically correct), to the last drop of bitter “yerba,” a tea-like herb, from the maté. If they do not want another turn, they say “gracias,” and won’t be served again on the next round. With maté, we eat "galletas de grasa" salty, rich crackers. The maté, yerba, and thermos are carried in a specially made pouch for such traveling purposes. Many of us usually bring our own maté kits to the polo matches. Our excursions range everywhere from our regular club practices, to Ellerstina's Gold Cup, the Hurlingham Open and even to Palermo. It's especially important on cooler days. If no one in the car comes prepared, we will often stop at a gas station on the way and buy "maté listo," fast-food style maté, served in a plastic cup, versus a gourd, with a straw and a Styrofoam thermos. Hot water is available for free at all the gas stations across Argentina.”
Sandra Funk’s comments describe the British way of enjoying the good polo life is to drink Pimm’s Cup No.1 while stomping divots. She shared the recipe from the famous 1989 book by John Lloyd, The Pimm’s Book of Polo. Mix 1 part Pimm’s Cup No.1 with 3 parts chilled lemonade, add some mint, cucumber, orange and strawberry. It takes only one sip to “tickle your fancy,” Sandra says.
Down Barbados way, the polo flavor is tropical and definitely spicier! The Island claimed by the British Crown in 1625 has a rich polo heritage dating back to 1884. Conkies and Bejan fish are the snack du jour while taking in the finals of the B’dos Open 14 goal finals at Holders Field. At the Brittany Polo Club, playing on the beach is a unique way to experience the sport. Sipping Muscadet and slurping oysters with a lobster pot au feu makes Michel Albin a popular man at his beach blanket polo picnic Making the point that polo is a global game both on the field and at the tailgate Romeo Gutierrez from Club de Polo Monterrey said… “Here in my club sometimes we give Mexican antojitos and some times we have Oriental food. It depends on the humor for the event and how classy it will be … and you know that oriental is the best for that finger food quality. Ha!”
While enjoying the game here on the west coast of Florida, we, too, can add our culinary heritage to the game … fresh stone crab claws with classic mustard sauce, locally grown tomato and basil salad topped off with a great piece of key lime pie!