Not that gastronomic obsessions are exclusive to those from Louisiana. Washington resident Brent Hughes is a Howard electrical engineering graduate who has developed a taste for cooking. He has taken several courses at L’Academie de Cuisine and was putting his knowledge to the test on a patch of asphalt near the Georgia Avenue side of the parking lot. He was standing duty over a pair of two-tiered smokers, one filled with racks of untrimmed spare ribs and the other crowded with a small flock of chicken wings. He had devised his own rub and marinade for the meats, the former of which incorporated a spice rack of flavors, including cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, thyme and parsley. He added even more spices to his cough-inducing jerk rub.
If Hughes’s wings weren’t fiery enough, tailgaters could add a splash or two from one of Lula B’s sauces, which Damien Noble was proudly selling from a table. (The sauces are also available at area Wegmans.) Noble is the chief executive of Bowie-based Lula B’s Sauce and Seasonings, named after his mother, Lula Beatrice Winslow Noble, who started making sauces as a girl during the Great Depression. They’re made with real fruit, Noble boasted. “If you see something floating in there,” he deadpanned, “it’s not a bug.”
Smoke was, without question, the primary ingredient at the Howard tailgate. It hovered in the air, adding a distinct, woodsy aroma to all those cutting-edge fashions in the parking lot. It also cooked and flavored the three types of fish prepared by Sherman Addison, a retiree from Howard University Hospital. Addison adopted a lean approach with his fish, marinating them in lemon juice and lemon-pepper seasonings before smoking them over charcoal and soaked hickory chips; it was a technique that favored the meaty, almost nutty flavors of rainbow trout, whose rustic smokiness was balanced with a kiss of clean, light citrus.
Howard alumnus Robert Winters was applying smoke with a heavier hand over at his stretch of parking lot. He was using hickory and maple chips and chunks to slow-smoke, among other meaty bites, a boulder-size hunk of bone-in pork shoulder. He was fighting the clock. Howard University cuts off tailgating an hour after the game ends. The pitmaster was looking to pull his pork off the smoker around 5 p.m., which would roughly coincide with the school’s official deadline for the party.
Winters wasn’t worried. It was as if he knew the university — the same one that had already looked the other way over the use of fryers in the lot — would never dare shut down his pending pork feast.
“Trust me,” he said with an air of certainty. “After the game, they’ll all be over here.”
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Craig Jones' Red Beans and Rice
Iced Tea-Brined Chicken
Brent Hughes’ Spiced Chicken Wings
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