Baseball is “America’s pastime”. The sport is filled with nostalgia and American history from Jackie Robinson and Derek Jeter to the disco demolition and your neighborhood little league team.
But, it’s the food that brings everything together.
Baseball was part of my introduction to American culture growing up. I would listen to games on the radio with my grandfather in Brooklyn, sitting on the porch during the summer eating ice cream or passing around a bag of Funyuns.
Before each game, it was the routine to grab a snack as we listened to the play-by-play and yelled at John Franco as he blew another save for the Mets.
Part of the fun at the ballpark is the trip to the concession stand for most fans.
Hot dogs, hamburgers, peanuts, cotton candy, ice cream, pretzels, nachos with all the trimmings. It’s a July Fourth barbeque on steroids.
Different teams around the country have their own menus featuring local dishes and traditional foods from the classic dodger dog in Los Angeles to Philly cheese steaks and Chicago deep dish.
Marlins Park, the home of the Miami Marlins, is like a giant buffet. The Taste of Miami, Sir Pizza, Don Camaron, helmet nachos, Cuban sandwiches, black bean burgers, mahi mahi tacos.
It’s all there.
What’s unique about Marlins stadium is the way Miami is represented throughout the menu.
During a recent trip to Marlins Park, I took a food tour with Chef Vince Navarrete, who is head of food operations at the stadium.
I was amazed to find out what goes into his day-to-day schedule. Navarrete is the man. He manages everything, ordering vegetables from South Florida farms to organizing the menu at a party for the Dutch royal family.
“It’s a fine marriage between what is local, not only local in the sense of trends and flavor profile but local in the sense of the sustainability of what’s around us,” says Navarrete. “Seeing what is Florida.”
Navarrete includes produce that’s in season from citrus, sweet mangos, passion fruits, dragon fruit, and star fruit. “Farm to fork is extremely important to us,” he explains. “Having the conversation with farmers letting us know what’s going to be the best part of their season. Fish mongers what they’re catching.
There’s also a section called Taste of Miami featuring local restaurants.
“If it’s a thriving business we want them here. We want that Taste of Miami in the ballpark. I wish I had a Cuban sandwich from Latin America, well we have that,” says Navarrete.
And you thought it was all peanuts, cracker jack, and pan con lechon.
From fan favorite restaurants to a great variety of foods the Marlins represent Miami alongside the traditional baseball fare. Stop by next season and bring your appetite. Grandpa you would have enjoyed it.