The Kentucky Derby: more than just hats and horses


Being of the "any excuse, really" sort, I find it enjoyable to celebrate holidays and events I have no real ownership (or even knowledge) of, better yet if it's out of context. The Kentucky Derby is just such an occasion. What better excuse to get together on an otherwise random spring day to double fist mint juleps, comment on the otherworldly petiteness of the jockeys and try to catch a glimpse Anna Nicole Smith's baby daddy, all while feigning interest in the day's main attraction, the actual race. Worst case scenario, you hightail it after the race is over. It seriously lasts like only two minutes.

The race is on tomorrow at 5 p.m., with coverage starting an hour earlier. And by the way, in addition to mint juleps, there are a bunch of other Derby-specific foods to make, cajole others to make or otherwise seek out, out such as Derby Pie (made with chocolate and walnuts), various messy sandwiches such as pulled pork and "Hot Browns," which involve many variations on an open-faced turkey and bacon and cheese sauce theme, fried green tomatoes and bourbon bread pudding.

One of the most famous Derby day foods is benedictine, which is a "cucumber spread" but is really just cream cheese with a little cucumber juice, onion juice, cayenne, salt, oh, and some green food coloring (!). It's what you might call the Kentucky Derby's answer to French onion dip, and it's actually pretty damn good with crackers and chips. Here's a recipe for benedictine a friend from Kentucky uses (it's on the second page of the article), along with some additional info. The same friend also recommends the bread pudding recipe made by the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville. She adds raisins to hers, which she soaks the night before in bourbon.

So, anyone want to invite me to a Derby party?