06 September, 2011


After my very first attempt at authentic New Orleans Gumbo three years ago, I was certain that I had the PERFECT recipe for the PERFECT tailgating dish to mark the yearly visit of our brothers from the bayou – ESPECIALLY when that initial batch disappeared in less than twenty minutes on gameday.


I got a taste of Tina Hastings’ version for Super Bowl XLIV when the Saints themselves won it.

I knew she had a better recipe. So, after a brief conversation with James’ extraordinary wife, I mentally bookmarked what she did differently, and by Jiminy, when Nawlin’s comes callin’ – Crazy Joe’s Gumbo will be a lot more like Tinas’. I’m not going to go into great detail about that recipe. That’s not the point of my rant. What DID get me thinking about recipes, was coaching philosophies, and what we can expect from the Panthers this year. It became abundantly clear after Chef Ronnie cut ties with wasted draft pick Everett Brown, and what he and his staff felt were the proper ingredients for a winning team. Of course, all his desired spices and such aren’t immediately available RIGHT NOW – so, instead of FRESH cilantro, Ronnie’s gonna have to go with the dried shaker jar stuff, in some part.

And I’m thinking about pizza, now. How many restaurants have made their name and their living out of that most vital of American staples? If you were blindfolded, and handed a slice of Pizza Hut’s original thin crust pizza, you would immediately recognize the taste and texture, yes? Same if your mouth had a slice of Little Squeezer’s shoved into it. And, if you were handed a generic slice of authentic Brooklyn Style Noo Yawk pizza, you wouldn’t want EITHER of those weak offerings! The NFL is a lot like pizza. Everyone loves pizza. Just not ALL pizza.

So, where am I going with this, you may ask? Those of you who know me and the way my mind operates already know. For the rest of you, read on.

The ingredients that make up the Carolina Panthers have been changed. Forever. What we knew for the past 17 years no longer applies. That veteran driven team of Dom Capers? Gone. The fast-paced offensive group of Frisbee-catchin’ dogs of the See-fart era? Not with these guys. The conservative, defensively oriented team of John Fox? You won’t see it again for generations. What we have now, is a team that is designed to go through the tight end when we have the ball. And to Rivera’s credit, he made sure he had the ingredients for that. This is Chudzinski’s specialty. And goes with virtually any kind of wine. A sure recipe for exciting Sunday afternoons. Shockey, Olsen, and Newton make for a very nice mix, ESPECIALLY when you have fresh Otah, and HEY! Just in, nice, farm grown Hangartner! And on defense, Chef Rivera wants to serve the blitz, early and often. Just for this season, we DO NOT have the richly marbled slabs of beef necessary in the middle to facilitate that, nor do we have the zippy corners to ignite the defensive backfield with flames of heat. Well, you don’t go to Morton’s for barbecue, do you? The Carolina Panthers aren’t serving quality defense this year, but I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that if you like touchdowns, and exciting vertical plays, you are going to be happy with the Panthers this season. Unfortunately, the other team we will be playing will be enjoying plenty of their own.

One of the things I most liked to eat years ago was Hooter’s Three-Mile-Island wings. I remember taking my best customer and pal “Big Woo” and the rest of Carolina Place’s support staff to the South Boulevard location , and eat heaps of ‘em, along with buckets of raw oysters and pitchers of beer, and Kenny would take a nice order from me the next day or so. But the next morning?

Johnny Cash wrote a song that exemplified my feeling ----

“oh it burns, burns, burns…..the ring of fire….the ring of fire….”

You will need your Tums to watch the Panthers this year. Oh, they’ll be tasty at times, but they will go down like alligator sausage other times… And you’ll feel the burn, burn, burn…

So, with that said, I’m going to go week by week over the Panther’s schedule – and gastronomically predict the palatability factor for each one –


New era for the Cardy-noles – they find out how much they gave up for Kevin Kolb. To his advantage, he’s got Larry Fitzgerald to throw to. But the desert’s not the benefit it once was – Uof P Stadium is comfortably weather-conditioned for your dining pleasure. The Panther’s D won’t be as bad as we’ve seen, and I think Arizona will be at a disadvantage of not having a TRUE scouting report on Cam Newton. Cam shows WHY he’s the #1 draft choice and the ‘Cats win their ’11 debut in a shootout! If you like defense, you won’t like this game. Enjoy, but don’t forget your antacids.


This is where you want to come early and stuff yourself on Clay’s open pit. Because Green Bay’s superior defense and experienced offense will make the Panthers look like middle school Mystery Meat. Add to the gastrointestinal discomfort will be the countless Packer fans in our stadium. What can I say? They travel well. And they’re all over the damn place.


Today, we all got the news that Chef Del Rio sent his sous Chef David Gerrard packin’. In favor of JOSH FREAKIN’ McCLOWN? The Jags are in a decline, just like my dearly departed favorite watering hole, Township Grille. Panthers win a good one, and taste good doin’ it.


In my yearly predictions, I have The Bears in LAST PLACE. Do you hear me? IN LAST FREAKIN’ PLACE! And there’s a few reasons I think so. I’m backin’ it up. A game we aren’t supposed to win, and we DO. Hey, Morton’s has good barbecue after all! Who knew?


I remember years ago, Kathie getting one bad meal in a New Orleans restaurant. When you’re food’s bad in The Big Easy, you go down harder than the pump where James fills the Party Prowler. This year’s Saints ain’t Arnauds, but they’re not Hardee’s, either… The positive part is that the Saints defense isn’t cordon-bleu this season. We’ll get our points, just not enough.


Uggh. Imagine your worst lunch room nightmare. What is a three-hour game will feel like eight.


A team that sucks and starts Wrecks-Gross-Man. Win. Easy. Like killin’ a whole bag of Oreos and milk after some serious munchies. No Tums.


Remember 2009? Sous Chef Matt Moore almost singlehandedly BEAT playoff-bound Brett Favre and his Vikings. A washed- up Donovan McSnabb leads this group in on a lovely fall afternoon, where the blitzing Panthers do enough to keep All Day in check, and WHOA! We’ve won four of our last six going into the bye!


All of the talking heads will begin to talk about the vast improvements the Panthers have made. Games will be sold out by now, and Cam Newton will be signed to his first big endorsement deal, tattoo free.


Remember how nice it was to come to Chez Jerry for the five home games in the first half of the season?
No more, babe. We’re going to be roadkill going forward, with only three home games left. This will be our last realistic chance for a home victory, and against a seasoned Hasselbeck, and Chris Johnson, not lookin’ good. Titans win a squeaker against us.


The Lions are going to be the NFL’S MOST IMPROVED TEAM this year, mark it down. And you will be guzzling Pepto to get through this one –


Without Peyton Manning, the Colts will be in a terminal tailspin. Like a veggie burger when you really, REALLY, need pure, steaming ANGUS BEEF. If they are without Son Of Archie, they will be as listless as peanut butter and jelly in a lunch bag by 3.00 PM. Our second road win of the year. And last.


The Suck-an-Ears by this time will be fighting hard for playoff positioning, and we are the team they will need to beat. And we will be shucked like we cost one dollar per cob of tasty corn. Damn, did I JUST say that???


Double uggh. I really, REALLY, hate the Duckies, and by this time, I will likely prefer munching on a plate of Dook Dookie as to stomach these guys.


We are going into Texans Town to play a first place team. There will be no doubt. It’s a team we’ve never beaten, and we’ll be waiting another four years to get another chance at this team that will one day be led by TJ Yates.


Come on Santa. PLEEEEEEEEEEZE can we have another home victory? PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE????

$(*@&#^%(@&#(*& might as well ask the %^#_&$^!@_$^ Hannukah fairy )#$^%_(!@^$
Panthers like bad fruitcake. Might as well crunch on a lump of coal. We’ll keep it close. Won’t be that bad, but the Bucs will be playing for their playoff lives. And they owe us.


May old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind, and that would include this version of the Carolina Panthers, who made us forget the quite forgettable acquaintance of the ’10 Panthers. We go 5-11, considerably better than last year, and the ingredients for a much tastier football team begin to simmer, as Chef Ron begins his shopping list at the Mega-NFL-Mart for 2012, for yet the next step in our Panther’s culinary and football evolution.

Excuse me while I call Domino’s for a sausage and pepperoni pizza.

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