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Ciaccio puts her tailgating tastes on pages of book

December 30, 2007

It took her five years to finish the 62-page book, but now that it’s complete, Julia Ciaccio is already thinking about her next project.

Ciaccio, a Corona del Mar resident, recently self-published, “Julia’s Ultimate Guide to Tailgating and Celebrations.”

Ciaccio, who has become something of a tailgating maven as she follows her son and the UCLA football team, published the book to tell people the absolute necessities of tailgating.

Ciaccio’s lists of must-haves include no-brainers — like the grill — but thinking to pack a car battery charger could be considered a less obvious necessity.

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According to Ciaccio, car batteries are a must for high-falutin’ fans who like to lug a television to the game. The more high energy electronics, the bigger drain on a car battery.

No one wants to be stuck in a parking lot, especially after the person’s team just suffered a tough loss, with a dead battery.

Ciaccio’s book offers some recipes for game-day feasts, but mainly consists of menus so would-be party planners already know what works.

“You can’t just put menus together and think they’re going to work,” said Ciaccio, who is also a stylist at Salon L in Newport Beach. “I had to actually put them together and use the menus to make sure the food traveled well, and everybody enjoyed it, and it could last hours. Everybody after tailgates wanted to eat more food. If you get to a game and you have a five o’clock game, you get there maybe at one, then after the game, you’re maybe out at nine, and you’re eating again. So the food had to be able to sit well and travel well.”

There were some unlikely departures from the usual tailgating fare of barbecued meat slathered in sauce, including frittata and stuffed mushrooms.

Ciaccio used to prepare pre-game meals for her son Michael’s football team at Northwood High in Irvine. But she began tailgating in earnest when he became a member of the UCLA football team. Michael Ciaccio is a redshirt sophomore safety for the Bruins. This season, Ciaccio had a tailgate party for every home game, and followed the team to the Las Vegas Bowl, favorite dishes in tow.

But sharing what she’d come to know through years of cooking and planning wasn’t the only reason Ciaccio wanted to write a book. She also wanted to show her three children, ages 22, 19, and 18, that she could accomplish something on her own.

“I didn’t have a college degree,” Ciaccio said. “So my kids always kind of looked down on me because I didn’t have my college degree, and I had my hair styling certificate ... I didn’t have the four-year schooling, and I always instilled in my kids, you need to have a four-year education. They always teased me, and that’s when I decided, what can I do — they respect what I do — but I really want to put something out there that I can give to people and give to my children.”

— Soraya Nadia McDonald


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